Design and the Twins Brand: Q&A with Dave St. Peter, President of the Minnesota Twins

Extensive renovations to CenturyLink Sports Complex, the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins, opened at the beginning of March and the team also celebrates its fifth year in Populous-designed Target Field this spring.  We took a few minutes to chat with Dave St. Peter, president of the Minnesota Twins (@TwinsPrez), about the value of design and the role it has played in building the Twins brand.

POPULOUS: How important are the buildings, spaces and experiences you provide to fans and athletes to the future of the Twins?

DAVE ST. PETER: It’s a critical pillar in terms of what we’re (The Twins) trying to accomplish. Facilities go a long way towards setting the tone for an organization-wide culture – they are also a very significant reflection of the brand and are an opportunity for us to create an incredible fan experience. Facility development is something every sports organization needs to be focused on every single day of every single year – there are always things we can do better for fans, staff, athletes, and ultimately, for the brand, and facility development is part of this.

POPULOUS: Talk to us about the design process. How do you ensure consistency of the Twins brand from Fort Myers to Minneapolis?

DAVE ST. PETER: First, by understanding that every project is unique there are things that will vary… but there are important principles we want to maintain in each facility to create consistency within the brand. We’ve been fortunate to have continuity relative to project team members both from the Twins and from Populous. When you complete multiple projects together it is a huge advantage. But creating that consistency of the brand requires discipline – we have to ask ourselves in each decision we make: “What are our priorities relative to player development? What are our priorities relative to the fan experience? What are the stories we are trying to tell and how can graphics and art and design contribute to the presentation of that story in our buildings.” We put a high priority on that, and it’s a critical component of a successful venue.

POPULOUS: As you look at Target Field and the renovations to CenturyLink Sports Complex, what are you most proud of?

DAVE ST. PETER: With regards to Target Field, the complexity of that particular site and the attention to detail required. It was an architectural feat by Populous– we took an 8.5 acre parcel of land and turned it into a majestic, intimate, urban ballpark. It’s a remarkable feat, and it’s the reason that Target Field will stand the test of time.

At CenturyLink Sports Complex, it was also a complex project because it was a renovation. Ultimately, we took the foundation established when Lee County Sports Complex opened 25 years ago and preserved the accessibility and intimacy of the entire complex and Hammond Stadium. We also took the experience to a new level for fans, players and staff. It’s safe to say CenturyLink Sports Complex is now at or near the top when looking at every Major League Baseball team’s spring training facilities.

POPULOUS: How do you explain the value of design to building the Twins brand?

DAVE ST. PETER: Design matters. We aren’t looking for a cookie cutter approach… we are looking for ideas that are unique and designs that lead to better game day, athlete and fan experience. We have an owner in the Pohlad family that is keenly aware of the opportunity we have to deliver landmark facilities and iconic designs. Every design decision we make isn’t put through an ROI filter. We believe aesthetics, experiential design, sustainability… these are all very, very important and we’re in a unique position, since we don’t make decisions solely based on ROI.

POPULOUS: How do you envision targeting next generation fans via design?

DAVE ST. PETER: It’s a work in progress. We’ve done a lot of research and spent a lot of time with Populous talking trends and understanding what younger fans are looking for. You’ll see at Target Field this year that we are listening and responding to that with the creation of the new bar and restaurant in left field, Barrio, which we believe will be a very popular spot among young people. We are committed to continuing to study, research and understand fan demographics and the future fan. Expectations will be different – it may be less about the fixed seat and more about transient experiences, and certainly about socializing and technology. As we embark on the Target Field master plan, we will focus on creating incremental changes that will focus on young people.

This post is part of a two-part series on spring training design. Revisit Bruce Miller’s thoughts on spring training design and advancements in player development here. 

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