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Twins Have Thrown New Light on Roof for the All-Star Game

Associated Press

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, site of Tuesday’s All-Star Game, is sporting more than $200,000 in improvements--changes officials hope will stem complaints that the stadium is unfit for major league baseball.

Most of the grievances centered on the lights used to illuminate the cavernous Metrodome ceiling, a Teflon-coated roof weighing more 340 tons.

Players said the ball almost was impossible to track as it sailed across alternating light and dark patches. Television camera crews had the same problem.

In May, after the Yankees lost to the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome, New York played the next game under protest, citing the lighting and saying the 3-year-old stadium “was not up to major league standards.”

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“What takes place in the Metrodome is not a ballgame. It is a circus,” Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said at the time.

Since then, 47 new lights have been installed at a cost of $100,000, said Jerry Bell, director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.

“We don’t think people lose the ball anymore indoors than in the sun, but when people come indoors, they expect it to be perfect, I guess,” said Bell.

Twins outfielder Tom Brunansky, who had complained about not being able to see the ball, thinks the added lights are a definite improvement.

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Now, he said, that problem “has pretty well been eliminated.”

But there were other annoyances, like the warning track.

Players said it was hard to distinguish the track from the Super Turf playing surface, and that it became slippery from the frequent washings it needed.

The new one the commission installed, at a cost of $100,000, should eliminate the problem. This warning track is the same color as the infield dirt and is made of a synthetic abrasive substance for better traction and more cushion, Bell said.

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For the All-Star Game itself, 300 extra seats are being installed along the first-and third-base lines of the stadium, which has an overall capacity of 55,122. New work areas are being added for the estimated 400 to 500 journalists expected to cover the event.

One improvement was completed before the season started--raising the outfield walls from 13 feet to 23 feet. Bell said the change was made at the request of the Twins, who felt too many visiting teams were hitting home runs.

Twins owner Carl Pohlad said he knows the improvements won’t satisfy baseball purists who believe the game should only be played outdoors.

But he argues: “When you live up in Minneapolis, 20 to 25% of the games were either rained out or played in inclement weather, and you didn’t draw a crowd because of the weather. It certainly justifies a dome here.”

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Pohlad defends the Metrodome, located just east of downtown Minneapolis, as being worthy to have a major league team call it home.

"(New York Yankees Manager) Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner might not agree, but that’s only because they lost the game,” Pohlad said. “If they (had) won, you wouldn’t have heard a thing out of them. I got a kick out of it.”

Bell said the dome “provides this metropolitan area with a stadium they can rely on.”

“In terms of Minnesota baseball, the dome has been a tremendous success,” he said.

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