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Becoming a Baseball Town

October 1, 2006 11:02 PM

What makes a great baseball place? Great teams and great stories, that's what.

It doesn't happen overnight. It happens over generations. And for those of us among the first generation of Twins fans, it's been a long time coming. But I smelled something other than RBIs coming from the Metrodome today. It smelled way more like the beginnings of a cultural shift than just a division championship.

2006 Twins

Justin Morneau, mobbed after a game-winning homer on June 9

Some say that Minneapolis just isn't a baseball town. Maybe it's because on an average weekday in August you have to wade through 12 pages of pre-season football coverage in the Strib to get to the box scores of games that matter. Maybe it's because the hometown nine play baseball in the corner of a football field. Maybe it's because the mainstream media is way more into scandal than stats.

But don't believe it. If the lively blogger landscape hasn't convinced you otherwise, check out the 40,000 people who stayed for 45 minutes after the end of a game to watch a couple of innings taking place very far away. For every person there, 400 more watched the same thing unfold on TV. That's more than just cool. That's the sign of a community that gets it. That's the sign of fans who have come to realize that the game is as small as a single pitch, and as big as a 162-game rainbow -- and you never know exactly which moment is going to matter most.

While other sports hogged the spotlight, baseball in Minnesota has been simmering for a couple of decades -- some would say languishing -- under a teflon lid, just waiting to be let loose. It's been right there all along, growing deep roots and the occasional blossom. We didn't know it, but this town was becoming a great baseball place.

One of those blossoms is before us now. This team may play on fake grass, but boy do they play. They play like today matters, and tomorrow will take care of itself if they just take care of today. They play as if yesterday's elbow troubles are as stale and flat as 2004 locker room champagne.

They play with their wits and their muscle, but also with their noses. And fish glue. And tiny super-heroes. And big lumber. And sideburns. They play with their hearts and boundless joy. And they have written a very good baseball story.

Baseball DNA

And that's how baseball will get you every time. It's the stories that draw us in and teach us the game. If the reaction to Kirby's death proved only one thing, it's that these great stories don't just stay with us, they define us and become us. Before you know it, you discover that this game is in your DNA -- that it's been there all along. Wherever this happens, you have a great baseball place.

Oh sure, it has something to do with winning. But it also has to do with a hometown batting champ who isn't pretending when he "aw, shucks" his way through a thousand TV interviews. Or an MVP candidate who looks truly shocked when asked what it's like to live in such an accomplished household. Or a Gold-Glove centerfielder in his contract year who plays and celebrates with as much joy as a Little Leaguer. Or a Cy Young candidate who can't stop talking about his teammates. Or a back-up catcher with enthusiasm strong enough to infect you as you watch from your couch. Or a fisherman who insists on taking the ball one last time.

Hennepin County may have cooked up the plan, and the Legislature may have approved it, but the 2006 Twins earned their new ballpark by giving us a story we'll tell for the rest of our lives. They, with their predecessors and teams yet to come, have shown us why we need this game and why we love it. They sealed the deal with four months of the best baseball we've ever seen in these parts. And they are not done.

We don't know what the line-up will look like when the Twins run out onto the freshly-mowed field in 2010, but one thing is for sure: the story of the 2006 Twins will be there with them. The stories of Kirby will be there with them. The stories of Harmon and Tony and Rod and Bert and Kent and every other player who ever wore a TC cap will be there with them.

And that's enough to make a great baseball place.

Twins Win!

Comments


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I guess I'll truly believe we have become a baseball town is when crowds at the game stop trying to start the wave.

Posted on October 3, 2006 at 07:18 AM by freealonzo Highlight this comment 1

I'm with you. Let's hope the new park is wave-proof! -- Rick

Posted on October 3, 2006 at 1:11 PM by Rick 2

As expected.....(click my name for the link)

"The Minnesota Twins have sent contract offers to the key players that will design and build their new ballpark.

Twins executive Jerry Bell said the team selected HOK Sport + Venue + Event of Kansas City, Mo., as the lead architect; Hammel, Green and Abrahamson Inc. (HGA) as the local architect; and M.A. Mortenson Co. as the builder. No deals have been signed yet, but team officials say an announcement should come within two weeks.

HOK will oversee all the major stadium design features, while Minneapolis-based HGA will assist on the project and handle some of the smaller details.

The selections should come as no surprise, as all three firms have a great deal of experience working on major building projects and already have been involved with the Twins project on some level.

The stadium legislation gave the Twins the authority to select the architects and construction firms, but Hennepin County has the final say. Once contracts are in place, the county will review the deals to ensure they fall within generally accepted market values and that the firms have enough capacity to handle the project.

HOK, Mortenson and HGA all declined to comment on the Twins stadium project, referring questions to the team.

HOK Sport + Venue + Event
HOK drew up the preliminary ballpark sketches that the Twins used during the legislative approval process and designed Xcel Energy Center, which the team has identified as a model for its new facility. The company designed eight of the nine major league stadiums that have opened since 2000 and is the architect on stadium projects underway for the Washington Nationals, New York Mets and New York Yankees.

Bell, the Twins' point person on the stadium project, cited HOK's vast experience as the dominant reason the Twins selected the firm.

The company is best known for its retro stadiums, like Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore and AT&T Park (formerly Pacific Bell Park) in San Francisco. Those ballparks feature brick and exposed steel, similar to the stadiums of past generations.

But HOK also has proven itself adept at designing more-contemporary facilities, such as Petco Park in San Diego, which has a sandstone exterior, and the Nationals' ballpark, which will feature large quantities of glass."

Posted on October 3, 2006 at 11:02 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 3

No surprise either but I wonder, HOK is designing new Yankees, new Mets, and new Nationals stadiums, all slated to open before the Twins. I know they are big but do they have the horses for a 4th major league stadium or will we get the interns and guys who usually do football stadiums?

Posted on October 4, 2006 at 12:39 PM by freealonzo Highlight this comment 4

Let's not forget that they also got the gig over at the U of M...

Posted on October 5, 2006 at 12:55 AM by Rick 5

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"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."

– Bernie Williams

Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.





Discovered on the upper concourse!









Believe it or not, the actual outfield wall will be about where this fence is now!



This is the back of the Cisco Field scoreboard, showing video to folks out on the plaza.



Greatest spot in the city for cooking up some hot dogs. And would you kill for that grill?









Another piece of the neighborhood puzzle: the Northstar platform.



One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:



That's Tony Oliva checking out ballpark construction from the roof of Target Center.












Just think: It could look like this!



Click to see the full-size image.






The Metrodome hot dog vendor. (Source: RP)









Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).



Notice that the wooden-backed club seats are now covered by a green tarp for protection from the elements.






The glorious Gate 34






The dessert carts came out earlier, and looked even better than last year.






The windows have started going in.






View from the Overlook



The heretofore unseen north facade (click to enlarge). Does it look like a ballpark? And what's with the bamboo?



Construction of the stands is moving from left to right in this image.



Emergency access viewed in context



(Click to enlarge.)









Frost on the pumpkins, snow on the plaza






Though there's nothing there now, you have to believe they'll find a way to add a party deck up there at some point.






This is the Metropolitan Club as viewed from the future Ballpark Authority office space.






The admin building (note TF logo on banner)



The main ticketing area beneath the restaurant.









A seating bowl comes into focus. Note that the netting has been installed on the foul pole. (Field Box)



Staircase view





Glossary

BPM - Ballpark Magic

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit

DSP - Dave St. Peter

FSE - Full Season Equivalent

FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

HPB - Home Plate Box

HRP - Home Run Porch

LC - Legends Club

LRT - Light Rail Transit

MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)

NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium

TF - Target Field

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