Here are a few excerpts:
Frank Miles of Jacksonville, Ala., is a stadium counter. A 76-year-old baseball fanatic, Miles has been in every major league ballpark — except Target Field.
Like hundreds of other baseball stadium tourists around the country, Miles will check Target Field, the brand-new Twins ballpark, off his list this summer. He loves the old classics like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, but he likes the new ones, too, including recently opened PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Citi Field in New York.
"I've seen 'em all, every major league ballpark — all the new ones, except this one," Miles said. "I've not heard much about it, but I'll be there this year on a tour."
Glenn Dunlap, owner of Big League Tours in Indianapolis, said he'll be bringing a group into Minneapolis this summer for the first time in his company's five years of operation.
"The Metrodome was not much of an attraction," said Dunlap of the Twins' former home. "We didn't have a lot of demand from baseball fans to come up to the Metrodome."
Increased tourism to Minneapolis for Twins games is bound to have a positive effect on surrounding businesses. As Dunlap points out, baseball is only part of the lure for ballpark tourists. They like to come early, stay late and thoroughly explore what the ballpark and the city have to offer.
"People are interested in the walleye-on-a-stick and the s'mores they're offering there (at Target Field)," Dunlap said. "State Fair food — that's great. It's part of what people enjoy about visiting different stadiums — the influences on local food and what's in and around the park.
"Target could be a great park. The part that makes a ballpark interesting is what the city does around it. Look at a Coors Field, right in the heart of Denver. That was in a district they've since built up around it, and it has become a great destination spot for the city."
Conversely, Dunlap said, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is in an area that needs to be developed.
"They've got a long way to go before people will go hang out there," Dunlap said. "It's what's around Target Field, what's welcoming to baseball fans, not just Twins fans.
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