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Twins unveil remodeled spring training facility

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It's time for baseball again – at least in Florida.

Minnesota Twins' pitchers and catchers reported to spring training Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., the same day the team unveiled its newly remodeled spring training facility.

At least 4,000 fans toured the facility at a four-hour open house Sunday, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. Fans were allowed to go just about everywhere in Hammond Stadium except the clubhouse, the training room and the infield.

Twins players Brian Dozier, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins met and greeted fans, posing for photos and signing autographs.

Fans who go to the field will see new amenities including a boardwalk-style concourse around the outfield, bar-style seating, and upgraded food and seating. The capacity of the stadium was also increased to 9,300, the Associated Press reports.

The $48.5 million upgrade also includes a new "player development academy" for minor league players. The AP describes it as a three-story building to house, feed, teach and train prospects year round.

The facility offers English language lessons for Spanish-speaking prospects and online learning opportunities for players who have yet to complete their education.

The overhaul brought the Twins' facilities up to par with those of the Boston Red Sox, who moved into the $80 million JetBlue Park and Fenway South complex three years ago.

The Twins contributed about 15 percent of the cost, while tourism taxes in the Fort Myers area paid for the rest, according to the Associated Press.

The Twins play their first home game at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, against the University of Minnesota and their first Grapefruit League game at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, March 5, against the Boston Red Sox.

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