MINNEAPOLIS The Minnesota Twins will call their new ballpark Target Field.
The baseball team and Target Corp. announced Monday an agreement in principle on an exclusive 25-year partnership that includes naming rights to the Twins' new stadium, scheduled to open for the 2010 season just across from Target Center, home to the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.
The retailer and the Twins also will collaborate on the design of Target Plaza, which includes a pedestrian bridge and public gathering space connecting the $517 million, 40,000-seat Target Field to downtown Minneapolis. The walkway will run right next to Target Center, and they're all just a few blocks away from Target's corporate headquarters in downtown Minneapolis.
The deal ensures Target's already high profile in its hometown will be even higher. Target Corp. spokeswoman Lissa Reitz said the stadium and arena deals are independent of each other. She would not say whether Target intends to extend its naming rights on the arena when that deal comes up for renewal.
Sandy Sweetser, senior director of marketing and event services for Target Center, said the current naming rights deal on the arena runs through Aug. 31, 2011. Target's name has been on the arena since it opened in 1990, and she welcomed the stadium announcement.
"We're very excited about it from the Target Center standpoint.... We know what a great partner they've been and I think the Twins will find them just as wonderful," she said.
This is the first time the Twins have had naming rights to sell. They've played in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome since 1982 and in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961-81.
"For us it's certainly the dawn of a new era," Twins president Dave St. Peter said.
St. Peter said the team is thrilled to have a partner with deep Minnesota roots, a strong record of philanthropy and a focus on families. One example of their plans, he said, will include "Target Seats" at every game that will be provided to disadvantaged children and their families.
St. Peter said Target's involvement in the plaza design will mean more cash for features such as additional seating, more canopies to provide shelter from the elements, perhaps some public art, as well as extending it all the way out to First Avenue so it's a level walk for fans coming from downtown.
"Between the baseball team and the basketball team and the whole corridor to downtown, Target has firmly entrenched themselves," said Jeff Knapple, an expert in naming rights deals at Wasserman Media Group LLC in Los Angeles.
The Twins and Target did not release financial terms of their deal. Knapple said he guessed that the deal could be worth $5 million to $6 million a year.
David M. Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Sports Business Institute, also didn't know of any other situation where a sponsor had naming rights to two adjacent major venues. American Airlines has had multiple naming rights deals, but not in the same cities, he said.
Carter said the stadium deal suggests that Target is seeking to make an even stronger connection to fans in its home market.
The Twins and Target said they plan to jointly develop a variety of marketing and promotional programs. St. Peter said those haven't been finalized, "but certainly Target is as savvy a marketer as you'll find in the world."
Baseball and basketball fans "aren't necessarily the same demographic," so this creates an opportunity for Target to craft different messages for fans of each team, Carter said.