♫ Buy Me Some Braised-Short-Rib-and-Gouda-Stuffed-Hamburgers ♪

With the Twins’ home opener fast approaching, my thoughts don’t go to the first pitch or the seventh-inning stretch, but instead to the bounty of great food choices available at the game. I’ve been to a number of ballparks in the last few years and we definitely are lucky to have one as new as Target Field. There’s more than the stale nachos with processed cheese and the “dome dog” available now.

The Twins (and their partners) have taken ballpark concessions to a new level by incorporating local food specialties and concepts that honor great players in Minnesota Twins history.

The concession stands at Target Field are branded with nine different themes, each with specific menu highlights. Three of the concession themes pay tribute to Twins greats: pitcher Frank Viola (Frankie V's Italian), broadcaster Halsey Hall (Halsey's Sausage Haus) and pitcher Juan Berenguer (Senor Smoke's).

There’s a little of everything for everyone. Last year I managed to sample a few of the specialty food items: The cheese curds were good, but couldn’t come close to the taste and freshness of those at the State Fair. Kramarczuk's bratwurst, Polish and Hungarian sausages were definitely a step up from your typical ballpark brat.

The in-park marketing worked for Vincent, whose burger I didn’t have at the ballpark but rather enjoyed several times now at their Nicollet Mall restaurant. It is delicious. A real treat in terms of burgers, made with Angus beef and stuffed with braised short rib and smoked gouda cheese. A high-class Juicy Lucy—which is also an option available at Target Field!

It seems to me that branding food-service items is a great way to increase demand (and profits) while enhancing the experience for fans—unless of course the food quality doesn’t match up with the customer expectation of the associated brand. I haven’t done any scientific research on the topic, but it sure looks like Delaware North Sportservice, the Twins’ exclusive food, beverage and retail partner pulled it off in the first season. In fact the Twins announced last week that they are adding more Minnesota favorites to the concessions at Target Field. [I’m hoping that this blog assignment/series will get me in for a taste test. Please?]

New this season will be a turkey sandwich from Minnesota State Fair and Nicollett Mall food truck purveyor Turkey to Go, the Walk A Taco from St. Paul's El Burrito Mercado, the Minneapple Pie from the Cottage Grill just outside the Twin Cities, and two additional Kramarczuk's bratwurst dishes created specially for Target Field by Food Network, a Sportservice partner. The Twins and Sportservice are also introducing a Kosher hot dog cart.

Beyond the specialty items and the Kosher hot dog (which will be the same price as a non-Kosher one), there are also vegetarian and gluten-free items available. It seems there is something for everyone at Target Field. I’m glad I can bike to the games so I get a workout after sampling all the food.