Kevin Smith, the Twins' executive director of public affairs, has seen the impact Target Field has had on young players first-hand.
The two-year-old ballpark has already served as host to several high school baseball championships, and with that thrill looming in the background, he has seen an appreciable difference in the intensity of the semifinals leading into it.
"They have a little bit more juice to them than they have in years past," Smith said. "Those kids from Minnesota really look forward to playing at Target Field."
Now kids taking part in the expansive Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program will feel the same way.
For the next couple of years, beginning Tuesday, the RBI World Series is moving to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, with the two baseball championship games -- for the junior and senior divisions -- taking place at the Twins' gorgeous new stadium.
The RBI leagues are implemented all across the United States and the Caribbean in order to give inner-city kids the opportunity to play baseball and softball for free year-round, and Smith knows the impact it has had in his community.
That's why the Twins were so anxious to bring the championship tournament to their backyard.
"For us to be selected to host the World Series for baseball and softball, the pinnacle of the RBI program, is just really humbling, actually," Smith said. "And we take it, really, very seriously. We really like it. ... They're really good programs. And so to have kind of the cream of the crop come to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and play in our good fields, is awesome. We're stoked for these next few weeks, that's for sure."
The RBI World Series will pin eight teams in each of three divisions -- senior boys (16- to 18-year-olds), junior boys (13-15) and girls softball (19 and under) -- in round-robin tournaments that will decide three champions.
The girls section will be held Aug. 3-7 -- with their championship game being held at the University of Minnesota -- and the boys will go Aug. 10-14. As part of the tournament, teams will take part in opening and closing banquets featuring special guest speakers, workouts attended to by scouts and, of course, competition from some of the best ballplayers around.
The Twins hosted regional championships back when their Major League club played at the Metrodome.
Their new venue played a big part in making them the new RBI World Series home.
"Being involved with the program has been important to our franchise, and I think we really just love the opportunity to see these kids thrive and enjoy the game and really learn life lessons that baseball teaches you," Smith said. "Winning. Losing. Being a good sport. Knowing when you get beat, you shake your opponent's hand and look him in the eye and say, 'Good job.' All those things are important to our organization, and helping kids in that RBI program kind of learn those lessons is just one of those things that we do."
The RBI program is in its 23rd season and will soon stage its 19th World Series after having it in South Florida the last couple of years.
RBI now impacts more than 200,000 youngsters in over 300 programs worldwide.
Adding the Junior RBI program for kids ages 6-12 two years ago caused a big spike in participation. The hope is that the thousands of kids who enrolled in the new program can stay involved in baseball and softball at least until they begin college.
"Obviously the overall program has been growing, but our growth has been, to this point, most significant in the [5- to 12-year-olds]," RBI director David James said. "So, obviously, as we said when we started Junior RBI, the key is going to be for the next three years, is to watch these 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds that are in Junior RBI. Are they staying in the program as they become 13, 14 and 15? Because that was obviously the goal of Junior RBI, to use that as a feeder program for the older divisions."
The 24 teams making up the RBI World Series are composed of the three divisional winners in eight regions. As of now, seven of those regions had crowned champs, with the Northeast Regional Tournament -- the largest of them all -- finishing up on Monday.
The representatives for the seven other regions are as follows ...
Senior Baseball: Union League Boys & Girls Club/Chicago RBI (Central region), Harrisburg RBI (Mid-Atlantic), Tampa Boys & Girls Club RBI (Southeast), Houston RBI (Southwest), Venice Boys and Girls Club RBI (West), Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI (East), Venezuela RBI (Caribbean).
Junior Baseball: Chicago White Sox RBI (Central), Philadelphia Phillies RBI (Mid-Atlantic), RBI Atlanta (Southeast), Houston RBI (Southwest), L.A. RBI (West), Think Detroit PAL/Orchard Children's Services (East), RBI Dominicana (Caribbean).
Girls Softball: Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club in St. Louis (Central), Harrisburg RBI (Mid-Atlantic), RBI Atlanta (Southeast), Houston RBI (Southwest), L.A. RBI (West), Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI (East), RBI Santo Domingo (Caribbean).
Soon, they'll all take the field with a championship in mind.
"It is a competition," James said, "and these coaches and these kids are looking forward to seeing how their teams match up against the best that RBI has to offer across the country."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.