"Hammond Stadium and the CenturyLink Sports Complex have had a great reputation over the years," Twins president Dave St. Peter said Thursday. "But I think the work we're doing here brings it back up to the top of the league."
The freshly anointed CenturyLink Sports Complex has been the location of the Twins' Spring Training camp and the franchise's player development center since 1991, and 2015 will be the team's 25th Spring Training at the complex. It is also home to the Fort Myers Miracle, Minnesota's Class A Advanced affiliate in the Florida State League, and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Twins. The Miracle won the Florida State League championship this year.
The Twins' top two prospects, outfielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano, are also both currently in Fort Myers -- Buxton for the fall instructional league and Sano to rehab from Tommy John surgery.
Buxton, the No. 1 prospect in the game, spent much of the 2013 and '14 seasons with the Miracle. Sano, MLB's No. 7 overall prospect, also played for the Miracle in '13.
Buxton is preparing to play in the Arizona Fall League, St. Peter said Thursday. Sano is swinging a bat and throwing at about 80-90 percent capacity, and he may play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
The CenturyLink Sports Complex includes Hammond Stadium, the Twins' Player Development Academy, five additional baseball fields and four softball fields. Hammond Stadium, expanded to a seating of capacity of 9,300 in the first round of upgrades, will also be the focus of the Phase II renovations for next spring.
St. Peter said the second round of renovations will have a similar goal in mind to the first, which included mural-sized depictions of important moments in Twins history and blown-up renderings of vintage Twins baseball cards adorning the walls of the Player Development Academy.
"You will see a lot of branding and a lot of attention to detail, all focused on trying to tell stories," St. Peter said. "Telling stories about the Twins, about Lee County, about the Miracle, and ultimately about what this franchise has meant to our fans."
The stadium's concourses, concessions, restrooms, individual and group seating, clubhouses, retail store, administrative offices and media facilities are all slated to be renovated by Spring Training 2015. CenturyLink will also install a fully converged network and several Internet upgrades.
On Thursday, in conjunction with the naming rights announcement, a hard-hat tour was given of the upgrades that are in-progress. The Hammond Stadium concourse and clubhouse areas are all under heavy construction, but they surround a baseball field in perfect playing condition.
"This is going to be some facility," Lee County commissioner Brian Hamman said.