Above: May 2009 progress of Target Field
Below: Day 64 of the main tour in Omaha
It may only be mid-January, but with pitchers & catchers reporting in a month, and the release of the Northwoods & independent league schedules last week, Erik and I couldn't help but start brainstorming our tour stops for this year. For me, the planning is half the fun of our baseball trips, and the anticipation for Opening Day makes the long, cold Midwest winters bearable. This year, we have a couple of wedding/bachlor party dates we have to work around for my brother and a friend, but we still plan on making two Tour Plus stops - the College World Series and Target Field.
The College World Series is hosted by Omaha annually for 12 days at the end of June. Just as in 2009, we briefly tossed out the idea of going to Spring Training, but we again decided to postpone that because starting next year, Omaha is getting two new ballparks. One park will be for the O-Royals, and the other for the CWS and possibly Creighton University. We realize this means that we'll now have to return to Omaha again someday to see these new parks, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see this event in the last season of historic Rosenblatt Stadium. Erik and I are admittedly not the biggest NCAA baseball fans, but the atmosphere at this event is supposed to be electric and unparalleled, and we are both eager to scout future major league talent. Right now, we're thinking of either going early in the Series when all the doubleheaders are so we could see more games, or just going for the last 3 days to see the finals; both options definitely have their advantages. This trip would also involve an independent league stop to nearby Sioux City, IA and/or Sioux Falls, SD.
Our second trip is a little more vaguely defined at this point, but the crux of it will be a couple games at the new home of the Twins, Target Field. Erik said a heartfelt goodbye to the Metrodome last season, but we're both excited for the return of outdoor baseball in Minneapolis. We would obviously love to see the Brewers play the Twins there, but we're not stupid enough to spend a couple spring nights at an open-air ballpark in Minnesota. I've attended enough April games at the GAB in Cincinnati to know that would be a bad idea. So, we're looking at a variety of weekends, ranging from mid-July to mid-August. Our final decision is going to be based on a number of factors: which CWS option we choose, the Twins promotional calendar, the Northwoods League schedule, Erik's job situation, and working around a couple of wedding events I have to attend. We have a few tentative options right now that all also include a couple of Northwoods games, and spending a day in Duluth.
After the main tour in 2007 (wow it's been almost 3 years already!), we pretty much had our 2008-10 trips quasi-mapped out. Starting in 2011, we only have some rough ideas, and a long list of baseball events and ballparks we have to see before we die. The ultimate goal is still to see as many professional and semi-pro stadiums as we can, and the next major league park opening up after this season will be Marlins Park in 2012.