Monday, May 18, 2015
Living Like Champions in Minneapolis
All photos of Champions Club @ Target Field available on Flickr.
As any avid reader may remember, there were some dark years of my life when I was holed up in Waterloo, Iowa for a job. I made the best out of that unfortunate situation and ended up making a really good group of friends, and I am very blessed that we still get together a couple times a year. This past weekend we met up in Minneapolis where my friend Kyle lives now, and the weekend culminated with seats in probably the coolest place I've ever been in a ballpark, in what was already one of my favorite ballparks - the Champions Club at Target Field. My friend Justin scored these seats through his company, and we took full advantage in every way of living like "the one-percenters" for an afternoon for free.
The Champions Club is not unlike the Gehl Club at Miller Park, the 755 Club at Turner Field, or any other private all-inclusive area, but what sets the club level apart here is that it is right behind home plate on the ground level. It combines the experience of a ballgame and a Las Vegas casino buffet. For those who are more interested in the game, there are comfortable high-back chairs and a waitstaff with 12 rows of seats directly behind home plate, and for those who just want to indulge and be pampered, the club room is only a short walk down a flight of stairs. I tried to take in a little of both - it was hard to pass up watching as much of the game as I could from seats that good, but at the same time, there was a table with giant bowls of steak and bacon about 200 feet away. Had I not had to drive 5 hours home after the game, I probably would have been pounding beers two at a time as well. Everything was included and unlimited, and I also got the impression that if by the off-chance they didn't have something on the regular menu that you wanted, they would have made it for you for a price.
In the post from my original visit to Target Field, I talked about how the stadium architects had the challenge of trying to fit like 10 acres of stuff on 7 acres of site, and a consequence of this is that a lot of the sidewalks and plazas around the stadium cantilever over streets and parking lots. The Champions Club has a special parking lot with valet service that I would never have known about had I not had tickets here, because it is basically underneath the main level of the stadium. You feel like you're entering under a freeway overpass and it really contributes to the exclusive concept of this area. Once inside, there is a little room that I can only describe as having the aesthetics of an old supper club or country club - lots of wood, display cases, groupings of lounge furniture around televisions, and a team store. To add even further to the prestige of the Champions Club, the 1987 and 1991 World Series trophies can be found here. This area then opens into the main buffet hall and large bar area. We each had about 2 full plates of food here, fistfuls of candy, some ice cold Grain Belts, and even got our picture with T.C. Bear. He was being urged by his handlers to hurry up because he had a pregame parade to lead, but T.C. always has time for his fans, which is part of what makes him the best mascot in the major leagues.
What we did watch of the game got out of hand pretty quickly for the Twins, who have actually been playing surprisingly well under first-year manager Paul Molitor. They were going for the sweep against the Rays and ended up losing 11-3. Staff ace Chris Archer got the ball for Tampa Bay and gave up only 4 hits and 1 run over 6 innings. It started to rain in the 8th so we left, but by that time the outcome was pretty much already decided. Joe Mauer had his customary RBI single and it was really great to see ol' T-Nutts back in uniform for Minnesota where he belongs. He doesn't run well anymore but that guy looks like he could still play at least another 3 years. I will be making a return trip to Target Field in about 3 weeks as part of a Twin Cities doubleheader, and plan on being first in line for the Torii Hunter giveaway jersey.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 05.18:
Brewers 14-25, -11.5 (3 @ Tigers, 4 @ Braves)
Reds 18-20, -7.0 (2 @ Royals, 3 @ Indians)
Twins 21-17, -3.0 (2 @ Pirates, 3 @ White Sox)
2015 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 3 (+5 worked)
Peter - 12