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Volume 21 No. 1
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Twins fill concourse space with new Digital Clubhouse

Don Muret
The Minnesota Twins have made several technology upgrades at Target Field for this season, including the Digital Clubhouse, tied to the U.S. Bank Home Run Porch in left field.

The Digital Clubhouse, built next to the Town Ball Tavern in the left-field corner of the club level, is a sheltered outdoor area. It fills some of the park’s last remaining open concourse space, said Chris Iles, the Twins’ director of corporate and digital communications.

Inspiring the project for the Twins were similar destinations at other ballparks, most notably the San Francisco Giants’ @Cafe at AT&T Park and the Chicago White Sox’s #SoxSocial Lounge at U.S. Cellular Field, Iles said.

“We’ve seen the fan demand and it’s what they want,” he said. “There were no surveys involved, just watching industry trends. To some extent it’s social media, but it’s more of a digital experience.”

Starting at the home opener, April 7 against Oakland, fans can interact with several digital displays. The centerpiece is an old dugout bench from the Metrodome, the Twins’ home from 1982 to 2009, providing a unique photo opportunity for users of mobile devices to share with family and friends.

The space, in the left-field corner of the club level, will offer social media options.
In addition, a Twitter Mirror, a “selfie” tool popular with the Hollywood set, enables fans to send more customized photos tied to their Twitter handles through an iPad set up at the clubhouse.

Attendants supervising the digital clubhouse will post fan-generated messages and images in real time on Twitter and Instagram on a screen above the old bench, Isles said.

The clubhouse’s 80-inch touchscreen provides a vehicle for fans to access Twins-generated digital content.

The team is still developing that piece of the program, Isles said. It could include navigation through the #TwinsTerritory Instagram map, a global diagram of user-generated Instagram photos posted by Twins fans; sending congratulatory messages to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on his 1,000th victory (he’s at 998); plus access to the Twins’ video library and deeper statistics available through the Gameday feature of MLB’s At The Ballpark mobile application.

U.S. Bank is presenting sponsor of the digital clubhouse as part of its naming rights for a section of left-field seats. Its deal runs through 2014, and the new development in the Home Run Porch will be part of renewal discussions, team spokesman Kevin Smith said.

Team officials would not disclose the investment for the Digital Clubhouse, which was designed by HGA, a Minneapolis architect.

Overall, Target Field is upgrading its Wi-Fi system by installing 500 new access points, driven in large part by the stadium’s playing host to the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, said John Avenson, the Twins’ vice president of technology.

The new system, provided by Cisco, doubles the number of access points under the old Wi-Fi network in place at Target Field over the last four to five years. It’s part of MLB Advanced Media’s effort to bring all 30 ballparks up to speed in wireless technology, Avenson said.

> FOUR CORNERS: Greensboro Coliseum showcased its expanded upper concourse at the ACC men’s basketball tournament.

The renovation, completed in early March, adds 17,750 square feet to the arena, which turned 55 years old this year. Most of the new space is in the upper corners of the facility, where the old restrooms were situated. New restrooms were built in the inner ring of the upper deck.

In addition, the arena replaced the old seats in the upper level with 10,000 new cushioned seats. Total capacity is now about 22,000, a net loss of 1,800 seats after the first two years of renovations, said Scott Johnson, the coliseum’s deputy director.

To have enough suites for new ACC members Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, a new suite was built in Section 202 in the arena’s southeast corner, Johnson said, and the arena gave up some existing suites it controls.

As a decorative element and to cover up exposed ductwork from upper deck construction, Unifi, a North Carolina firm, produced large banners made from photographs taken at the arena’s signature events. The 50-plus signs were made from 16,000 recycled plastic bottles collected statewide.

The $24 million in total upgrades will be completed next year with the addition of some permanent concession stands on both concourses.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.