Last reviewed December 2020
Minnesota Issues Resource Guides
Baseball Stadiums in Minnesota
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.
Books and Reports • Articles • Internet Resources • Additional Library Resources • Groups
Financing and constructing baseball stadiums in Minnesota has fueled political debate for many years. With the completion of Target Field in 2010, the Minnesota Twins are playing outdoor baseball for the first time since 1982 when they left Met Stadium to play in the Metrodome. The St. Paul Saints, though the team itself had a hiatus from the 1960s to the 1990s, have always played outdoor baseball in Minnesota. In 2015 they played their first season at the new CHS Field in downtown St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood.
This timeline is a starting point for researching the history of baseball and baseball stadiums in Minnesota.
pre-1884: Minnesota's first recorded organized "base ball club" is the team in Nininger City, formed in 1857, one year before statehood. Though professional baseball doesn't begin in Minnesota until 1884, many clubs and teams play in the state before then (e.g. North Star Club, Olympic Club, Crescent Club, Brown Stockings, Red Caps, Blue Stars, etc.). Teams play in various locations; for example, the Blue Stockings play on 8th St. in South Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Browns play at the corner of Nicollet and Lake streets.
1884: Professional baseball officially begins in Minnesota with three minor league teams - Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Stillwater - joining the Northwestern League. The Minneapolis team plays at 17th Street between Portland and Chicago Avenues in South Minneapolis. The St. Paul team begins season practices on grounds across the Mississippi from downtown St. Paul, and then moves to West Seventh Grounds (also known as Fort Street Grounds) on St. Clair and West Seventh. Rules are changed to allow overhanded pitching.
1886: Minneapolis plays just off Lake and Minnehaha. St. Paul plays at West Side Park, on Eaton St. and Chicago Ave. on the West Side.
1888: The St. Paul team leaves the Northwestern League to play in the Western Association. Mid-season they move to Athletic Park on State Street.
1889: Minneapolis plays their games at Athletic Park, a small "band box" facility in downtown Minneapolis behind the West Hotel (not to be confused with St. Paul's Athletic Park).
1896: The Minneapolis team (called the "Millers" to honor the city's flour milling industry) move to Nicollet Park at the corner of Nicollet Ave. and Lake St. in South Minneapolis, about the exact location the Minneapolis Browns played in the 1880s. The Millers play at Nicollet Park until 1956 when they move to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.
1897: The St. Paul team (most commonly nicknamed the "Saints" or the "Apostles") moves to Lexington Park, on the southwest corner of Lexington and University Avenues. The team plays there until 1957, except from 1903 to 1909 when they play at the "Pillbox," a ballpark on the edge of downtown St. Paul; Sunday games were still played at Lexington Park in those years.
1902: The St. Paul Saints and the Minneapolis Millers join the newly-formed minor-league American Association as charter members.
1953: In the fall, St. Paul voters approve a $39 million bond issue for municipal improvements. Of that amount, $2 million is earmarked for a new ballpark in St. Paul. This reflects St. Paul's attempt to attract a major league team to the area.
1954: 164 acres of farm land in Bloomington is chosen as the site for a baseball stadium in the Twin Cities. The Metropolitan Sports Area Commission, which will operate the new stadium, is officially established by an August 13th ownership and operations agreement between Minneapolis and Bloomington, an agreement that is validated by the legislature in 1955 (see Laws of Minnesota 1955, Chap. 445). This also reflects an attempt to attract a major league team to the area, a prospect which had been discussed throughout the early 1950s.
1955: Ground breaking ceremonies are held June 20th at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. The Millers play their last game at Nicollet Park on September 28th, beating the Rochester Red Wings in game 7 to win their first Junior World Series championship.
1956: The Minneapolis Millers open Metropolitan Stadium on April 24th against the Wichita Braves. The seating capacity is about 18,200. Construction on Midway Stadium in St. Paul, future home of the Saints, begins. Midway Stadium is located on the east side of Snelling, southeast of the fair grounds.
1957: The St. Paul Saints open Midway Stadium on April 25 with a day-night doubleheader against the Wichita Braves.
1958: In September, Minneapolis approves $9 million in general obligation bonds to expand the seating capacity of Met Stadium, if a major league team is signed by January 1, 1959. A team is not signed by the deadline, so the bonds are not sold.
1960: Minneapolis approves an overall issuance of $8.5 million in bonds over a three-year period to expand seating capacity of Metropolitan Stadium ahead of Minnesota's first major league team.
1961: Minnesota's first major league baseball team, the Twins (formerly the Washington Senators), play their first season in the state at Metropolitan Stadium. The team was named for the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints disband, ending a years-long cross-town rivalry. The Saints and Millers had been the best teams in the American Association over their fifty-nine years of play
1974: Early in the year, the Boards of Directors' of the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce each appoint a stadium task force to study sports facilities in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Their joint final report issued in 1975 finds that "there is an immediate and urgent need for improved facilities for football and baseball in the Twin Cities."
1976: Stadium politics dominate the legislative session. Governor Wendell Anderson instructs the State Planning Agency to examine stadium proposals. They issue A Report on Sport Stadium Proposals in 1976. Stadium proposals include remodeling Metropolitan Stadium, expanding the University of Minnesota's Memorial Stadium, building a recessed stadium in Lakeville, building a $28 million open air stadium, or constructing a $126 million multi-purpose domed stadium.
1977: Governor Rudy Perpich announces support for a covered stadium. The Minnesota Legislature passes and Governor Rudy Perpich signs Laws of Minnesota 1977, chapter 89. It includes financing provisions for sports facilities in the metropolitan area. The legislation doesn't specify a site but it does state that no public money may be used to purchase the land that the stadium will be built on. This law transfers the duties of the Metropolitan Sports Area Commission to the newly created Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. It also establishes a 2% on-sale liquor tax in the seven metro counties to begin August 1, 1977, the revenue from which is to be placed in the debt service fund or other permissible special funds outlined in the law.
1978: A district judge finds the public debt portion of the bill passed in 1977 unconstitutional since it was not passed by the House and Senate with at least 60% of the votes. Land on the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis is purchased late in the year for a stadium, approximately $14.5 million of which is raised by Twin Cities businesses. In December, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission votes 4-3 for a domed multipurpose facility on this site.
1979: The Minnesota Legislature passes and Governor Al Quie signs Laws of Minnesota 1979, chapter 203 which modifies 1977 law described above. The Legislature also repeals the seven-county liquor tax passed in 1977 with the passage of Laws of Minnesota 1979, chapter 26. The Metropolitan Council issues public revenue bonds backed by the City of Minneapolis. In addition Minneapolis adopts a 3% liquor sales tax and hotel/motel accommodations tax to assist with stadium operations. Ground is broken for the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in December. The stadium will be shared by the Minnesota Twins baseball team, Minnesota Vikings football team, and the University of Minnesota college football team.
1981: The Twins play their last game at Met Stadium September 30, losing 5-2 to the Kansas City Royals.
1982: The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is completed in April at an approximate cost of $55 million for construction costs. The full cost of the stadium is almost $124 million with the inclusion of nonconstruction costs. The Twins play their first regular season game in the Metrodome on April 6, losing to the Seattle Mariners 11-7.
1984: Minneapolis lowers its 3% liquor sales tax and hotel/motel accommodations tax to 2%. This is the last year the tax is utilized.
1985: Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington is demolished.
1987: The Twins win their first World Series championship, beating the St. Louis Cardinals.
1989: The H.H.H. Metrodome Retractable Roof Study is completed.
1991: The Twins win their second World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
1993: The current incarnation of the St. Paul Saints is formed in the Northern League, one of several independent minor leagues not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
1996: The Advisory Task Force on Professional Sports in Minnesota releases its Final Report on January 31. A nonbinding professional sport stadium construction referendum is discussed by the Minnesota Legislature in HF2974/SF2464.
1997: Eleven bills are introduced in the Minnesota Legislature regarding a new professional baseball stadium and a special session is called to debate the issue. None are passed. A joint bipartisan stadium task force is formed. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 1997-1998 session include the following House files and Senate files.
The Minnesota Legislature also introduces HF107/SF111. The bills would transfer the ownership of the Metrodome to the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins; neither pass. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) releases Analysis of Stadium Options.
1998: Twins owner Carl Pohlad attempts to sell the team to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver. Charlotte, North Carolina voters reject a new stadium. Stadium bills that are introduced in Minnesota fail to pass.
1999: The legislature proposes SF801/HF87 to create public ownership of the Twins, but nothing passes. Minneapolis and St. Paul generate competing proposals to build a professional baseball stadium. A St. Paul referendum on the issue fails on November 2, 1999.
2000: New Ball Park Inc., a group of downtown Minneapolis business leaders, works to find private money to finance a ballpark. The Twins announce the creation of Minnesotans for Major League Baseball, a citizen committee to address keeping the franchise permanently in Minnesota.
2001: The Minnesota Legislature and Governor Jesse Ventura create an 18-member Stadium Task Force that prepares recommendations for the 2002 Legislature to address stadium concerns of the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, and the University of Minnesota (see task force report and minutes). Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 2001-2002 session include the following House files and Senate files.
2002: The existence of the Twins is threatened by Major League Baseball contraction plans. The legislature passes HF2214, providing state financing for a $330 million stadium in St. Paul. The Twins turn down St. Paul's plan.
2003: Governor Pawlenty sets up a Stadium Screening Committee to provide information, analysis and advice in making a professional stadium proposal for the legislative session in 2004. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 2003-2004 session include the following Senate Files.
2004: The Stadium Screening Committee issues a final report to Governor Tim Pawlenty recommending action be taken in 2004 for a ballpark and football stadium (see committee television archives). Stadium bills that are introduced (SF3062 and SF2536) do not pass.
2005: Stadium bills are introduced but fail to pass. Debate focuses on a stadium in Hennepin County and if the proposed sales tax should be exempted from the referendum requirement. Baseball stadium bills introduced in the 2005-2006 session include the following House files and Senate files.
2006: Funding is established for a new Twins stadium, with HF2480/SF2297 receiving numerous hearings. Whether to include a Hennepin County sales tax without a referendum continues to be a focus of the stadium discussions. The final version of the bill includes a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County that will generate the county's $392 million contribution to the $522 million, 42,000 seat stadium located in Minneapolis' Warehouse District. HF2480 passes and becomes Laws of Minnesota 2006, Chapter 257. The law diverts a portion of the money raised by the Hennepin County sales tax to county youth activities and libraries. Also included is a provision that the Twins' nickname, logo, colors, records and trophies would become property of the state of Minnesota should the team ever move to another city.
2007: The groundbreaking for the new outdoor ballpark in Minneapolis takes place on August 30, 2007.
2008-2009: Construction proceeds on Target Field.
2009: The St. Paul Saints begin a push to build a new stadium in downtown Saint Paul. The proposed 7,500 seat stadium would be located in the Lowertown neighborhood. The city of Saint Paul requests $25 million dollars in its 2010 bonding wish list to the Minnesota Legislature. The Twins play their last regular season game in the Metrodome on October 6, beating the Detroit Tigers 6-5.
2010: The new Target Field opens with a two-game exhibition series against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 2 and April 3. Forbes magazine reports that the value of the Twins has increased 14% to $405 million since their move to Target Field.
2012: In July, the Saint Paul City Council approves financing for the Lowertown ballpark. St. Paul receives a $25 million economic development grant from the state to help finance a ballpark for the St. Paul Saints on September 13. The following day Ryan Construction is named contractor for the project. In October, the Minnesota Taxpayer's League files a lawsuit to stop the plans, alleging the contract was improperly awarded.
2013: SF633/HF749 are introduced to establish a property tax exemption for the St. Paul Ballpark. Similar language is later passed in an omnibus bill, HF677. As part of 2013 omnibus liquor bill SF541, an on-sale liquor license for the ballpark is authorized by the Legislature, subject to the approval of the St. Paul City Council. In December, cleanup of contaminated soil on the site begins.
2014: Construction begins in April on the new St. Paul Saints stadium in Lowertown. In September, the Saints announce naming rights for the new stadium were sold to CHS Inc., the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative. The terms of the deal are not disclosed. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played at Target Field on July 15, 2014.
2015: On March 4, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman turns on the lights at CHS Field. The Hamline Pipers play the inaugural game at CHS field on April 11; the Saints play an exhibition game on May 18 followed by their home opener on May 21.
2020: In December it was announced that the St. Paul Saints would leave their independent league to become the Twins' Triple-A affiliate.
Significant Books and Reports
Advancing Arts and Athletics: Planning and Funding Arts and Sports in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Planning, 1998. (GV430.M6 M566 1998) (This report is by Governor Carlson's Task Force on Sports Facilities.)
Berg, Steve. Target Field: The New Home of the Minnesota Twins. Minneapolis: MBI Publishing, 2010. (GV416.T37 B47 2010)
Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball. CATO Institute, 2004. (Vertical File S 148.2)
Final Report of the Minnesota Stadiums Task Force. St. Paul: Minnesota Stadiums Task Force, January 25, 2002.
Hennepin County and Twins Baseball Club Ballpark Proposal and Principles of Agreement, 2006.
Keiser, Richard. "Ya Don't Have to Get Snippy About it: Sports Stadium Politics in Minnesota" in Perspectives on Minnesota Government and Politics. Eds. Steven M. Hoffman, Homer Williamson, and Kay Wolsborn. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003. 197-207.
Klobuchar, Amy. Uncovering the Dome. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc., 1982. (GV416.M6 K45 1982)
Levin, Richard C., George J. Mitchell, Paul A. Volcker, and George F. Will. Report of the Independent Members of the Commissioner's Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics. New York: Major League Baseball, 2000. (GV875.A1 R37 2000)
Minnesota Ballpark Authority. Annual Report. Minneapolis: Minnesota Ballpark Authority, 2009. (GV417.T37 M564)
Minnesota Ballpark Authority. Annual Financial Report. Minneapolis: Minnesota Ballpark Authority, 2009. (GV416.M6 M565)
Minnesota Ballpark Authority. Ballpark Budget Project Overview. Minneapolis: Minnesota Ballpark Authority, April 2010.
Minnesota Stadium and Arena History. St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, 2010.
Minnesota Twins/Hennepin County New Ballpark Summary 2005 . (GV413 .M56 2005)
The Minnesota Urban Ballpark Final Environmental Impact Statement. Hennepin County, 2007. (GV416 .M564 2007)
Poitras, Marc and Lawrence Hadley. Do New Major League Baseball Parks Pay for Themselves? Dayton: University of Dayton, 2003. (GV716 .D63 2003)
Rippel, Joel A. (with forewords by Harmon Killebrew and Sid Hartman) 75 Memorable Moments in Minnesota Sports. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003. (GV584.M65 R56 2003)
Thornley, Stew. Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006. (GV863 .M6 T46 2006)
Thornley, Stew. Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie. Charleston: The History Press, 2014. (GV875.M55 T57 2014)
Thornley, Stew. The St. Paul Saints: Baseball in the Capital City. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2015. (GV875.S73 T56 2015)
Weiner, Jay. Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. (GV716.W43 2000)
Zimbalist, Andrew S. May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004. (GV880 .Z58 2004)
(articles in reverse chronological order)
Helfand, Betsy. "St. Paul Saints Set to Become Twins' Triple-A Affiliate." St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 1, 2020.
Melo, Frederick. "St. Paul Saints Debut New Lowertown Ballpark." St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 21, 2015.
Johnson, Brian. "Finally, it's Time to Play Ball at CHS Field." Finance and Commerce, May 21, 2015.
Nelson, Tim. "For Fans with Special Needs, New Stadiums will be Game Changers." MPR News, February 18, 2014.
Platt, Adam. "Every Night is Opening Night: Through 20 Years, Good and Bad, the Renegade St. Paul Saints Fought the Good Fight, Remaking Minor League Baseball While They Were At It; Now If They Could Only Get Out of Midway Stadium." Twin Cities Business, July 2012, p. 38-43.
Langdon, Philip. "Minnesota's Ballpark: Urban Yet Not Retro." Public Square: A CNU Journal, October/November 2010, p. 1, 6-7.
Meland, Christa. "Is Target Field on Target?" Twin Cities Business, October 2010.
Weiner, Jay. "Target Field: Economic Impact is Years — and Dreams — Away." MinnPost, April 9, 2010.
"Value of Twins Takes Healthy Leap". Star Tribune, April 8, 2010.
Weiner, Jay. "Target Field: The House That Jerry Bell Willed to Completion." MinnPost, April 1, 2010.
Gee, David. "The Business of Baseball." Minnesota Business, April 2010, p. 24-28.
Tanick, Marshall H. "Play Ball: 50 Years of Twins Litigation Lore." Bench & Bar of Minnesota, April 2010, p. 16-19.
Gordon, Jack. "The Coolest Ballpark in America." Twin Cities Business, March 2010, p.32-7.
Jacobson, Don. "The Starting 9: The Nine People that Made Target Field Possible." Twin Cities Business, March 2010, p. 38-43.
Mador, Jessica and Brandt Williams. "Twins Get the Keys to Target Field." MPR News, January 4, 2010.
Grow, Doug. "A Change of Heart: After All My Pohlad-bashing Days, It's Time to Praise Them for the Twins Stadium 'Extras'." MinnPost, September 8, 2009.
Anderson Jr., G.R. "The New Twins Park: A Big Roadblock at Home Plate." City Pages, February 7, 2007.
"Stadium Wars: Back from the Dead." City Pages, May 11, 2005.
Goldstein, Tom. "Ballpark Frankness." City Pages, September 8, 1999, p. 14-20.
Johnson, Charles. How Major League Baseball Came to Minnesota, 1982. (Vertical File S 148.2)
Significant Internet Resources
Minnesota Ballpark Authority - A public body that was created by the 2006 Legislature to oversee the construction and operation of Target Field.
Target Field information and Minnesota Twins history, including a history of the Metrodome.
Additional Library Resources
For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
S148.2 (Sports - Baseball), S150 (Stadiums)
For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use this Library catalog search: Baseball Stadiums (Minnesota).
For further information on sports facilities, see Financing Professional Sports Facilities.
Groups Involved with this Issue