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More Model Talk

June 6, 2007 11:57 PM

MOJO and I had a chance to talk with Dave St. Peter over the ballpark concept model in the TCF atrium yesterday. Perhaps some of you were there as well. The crowd was small but very attentive.

Dave St. Peter talks about the ballpark concept model

Actually, MOJO served up most of the questions and I sat back and listened, chiming in only for clarification on a couple of points. Frankly, I would make a terrible investigative reporter. If you come here looking for juicy inside scoops, I'm sorry to say you'll probably be disappointed. Analysis, on the other hand, now that's my thing.

But we did get some very interesting tidbits.

The first one follows a bit on a thread which keeps resurfacing, and the point of which I am only now starting to get. After comparing the new park to the Dome in my previous article, I concluded that almost every seat in the new park will have a great view of the action, far better (and more comfortable on the neck) than the Metrodome.

But to do that, they've essentially gotten rid of all the bad seats. This sounds great until you realize that the better the seat, the higher the price. Bad seats = cheap seats. Good seats = expensive seats.

For those of us who can't really afford to venture into the lower deck or even infield seating, this could be a pretty big problem. When I look at the seating diagrams, I fully expect to see most games from the so-called "View Level" (which is just beneath the canopy) -- and probably pretty far down the lines.

Though the dollars will probably be different, it's instructive to look at the pricing levels at other similar parks such as PNC Park, Safeco Field and the one in San Francisco (which changes name too often for me to keep up). The Twins will likely create similar break points, with similar relative pricing levels.

The left field pavilion will be expanded toward center

This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.

When asked what changes have been made in the design since the concept model was built, the first thing St. Peter said is that they're trying to add more outfield seating. The left field pavilion has already been extended toward center by one full section, and may get more. The restaurant which was shown in the outfield has been moved to the building in the left field corner, which creates a lot more room.

Someone else asked about ticket prices, and Dave's answer hasn't changed much. He said that though they haven't settled on anything, they'll be trying to keep it as affordable as possible. That segued into a discussion of how gaining control of concessions will actually help keep ticket prices down. That led one person to say that he already pays more for food than he does for the ticket. (Though I didn't let on, the discussion put me in the mind of this article about ballpark prices over at The Hardball Times.)

Rooftop area

The renderings and concept model differ here. MOJO thinks this is the perfect place for a party deck. Dave St. Peter seemed to agree!

MOJO wanted clarification about the roof area on that building at the left field foul pole. St. Peter said that they'd had discussions about putting a party area there, and even had it in the design at one point. He didn't quite commit to it, but seemed to think it was a definite possibility.

Many people have asked me this, so I asked Dave about the roof of the parking ramp which dominates the view beyond center field (the so-called "B ramp"). The answer surprised me, because it turns out that those ramps are owned and/or controlled at least in part by the Federal government. Any time you build something over an interstate highway, the Federal Highway Administration has a say. This also goes for the plaza and walking bridge which will also cross I-394.

Dave said he had heard all kinds of ideas tossed around for the top of that ramp, including a restaurant, and the Twins are eager to be involved in any planning which takes place, but technically have no control over it. This sounded like one of the many legal details which have to be resolved in any project of this size.

On the other side of the park, the team does control the land to the south on which their parking lot will be built. They have development rights for 15 years on this land, and though it will be surface parking when the ballpark opens in 2010, it's entirely possible that something else will happen with that land before their option expires.

Future surface parking lot

A few weeks ago there were sand volleyball courts here. When the park opens, this will be surface parking. Maybe one day there will be something more interesting built on top of that parking...

On one hand, this is a bit disappointing. I've talked before about the neighborhood issues, and one thing that could help resolve the walkability of the area would be for something nice to be built on that land with retail storefronts opening onto Seventh Street. With that area remaining as surface parking below the bridge, there will be no disguising that the ballpark is essentially built between two freeway-style bridges. That, in turn, works against the neighborhood feel that the team clearly covets.

On the other hand, it's at least a hopeful situation. St. Peter made a point of saying that they don't want what happened to the Metrodome to happen at the new park. That is, they don't want their crown jewel to sit in a desolate landscape. Having the development rights means they can do something about it themselves. On balance, and over the long haul, it's likely an acceptable situation.

There were a few specific questions about things seen on the model, and Dave was quick to dismiss the model as just a concept that is now almost four months old. We shouldn't get hung up, he said, on any of the details we see there.

Screen over circulation ramps on Seventh Street
Circulation screen on Fifth Street

The proposed wooden screen covering the circulation ramp on Fifth Street (at left is the equivalent screen on Seventh Street).

One of those details on which I wanted some clarification was the screen which is pictured on the Fifth Street facade covering the circulation ramps. It looked to me like bamboo at first glance, but Dave clarified that the designers had suggested the wood lattice-like covering as a means of softening the appearance of those ugly ramps and integrating them with the rest of the facade. But he quickly added that nothing like that was in the current budget.

Seeing people moving in those ramps is very important in connecting what goes on inside to the neighborhood outside. It also lends an air of excitement and anticipation when approaching the ballpark on foot. How they solve that isn't as important as making sure that it does look integrated with the rest of the building without hiding the purpose of the area.

Next, I asked if there were buildings in downtown Minneapolis which were built with the type of limestone they expect to use. Again, the answer surprised me. They haven't actually picked out the stone yet, and have not exactly decided what color it will be, how rough it will be cut, and other such details. He did mention the WCCO-TV building as one that they like, and another building in downtown St. Paul (the name of which I didn't catch).

WCCO TV building

WCCO-TV building

One of the diagrams in the display that I hadn't seen before held a small but interesting detail. The park will be connected to the "A ramp" to the south (from which I have been taking my site status photos) by a skyway to be built over Seventh Street, and possibly connected to an escalator outside the ballpark. In addition, there has been talk of making a direct connection with the "B ramp" onto the plaza, or maybe directly into the park.

There was some scoreboard talk, and it's clear that St. Peter wants to make sure every seat in the place has access to instant replays in addition to vital stats. The current plan has the scoreboard directly above the bullpens, but St. Peter seemed concerned about fans sitting in foul territory down the left field line, whose view could be blocked by the restaurant building there.

This sounded like a very open issue. As I look at the design, it seems obvious that a second large scoreboard will be needed, perhaps over the main entry gates from the plaza. This would cover the left field pavilion nicely as well as anyone else whose view of the other scoreboard is blocked. Imagine that: TWIN scoreboards! That would be an MLB first, I think, and what better franchise to do it!

It would also offer an opportunity to implement a great idea I saw in the drawings for Cisco Field (currently proposed for the Oakland Athletics). In that design, the scoreboard is double-sided, allowing people on the plaza outside the park to see at least some of what's going on. This would be a great amenity to have, especially if the plaza ends up with green space of any sort.

Cisco Field scoreboard from behind

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

At events like this, Dave St. Peter always seems to be a very gracious and willing ballpark ambassador. I'm sure he hears the same gripes and ideas over and over, but he doesn't let on. And who among us wouldn't like to be in a position to say, "This ballpark needs more outfield seats!" I'll bet that designing a ballpark, though full of headaches and pressures, is really a lot of fun.

I think what I'll take away from this brief update is the sense that many things are still being decided, and the Twins staff is very active in these discussions. That is essential if this is to be a great ballpark. HOK, for all their strengths, is only as good as their collaborators. Their style is now recognizable, to the point of being almost a ballpark cliche. Their parks have something of a cookie-cutter quality.

But Dave's comments made it clear once again that the Twins do not want a cookie cutter park. They want to build "a landmark which can last 50 to 75 years -- or longer." How the Twins implement and shape the HOK style, as well as how they realize all of the millions of details, will determine just how successful and timeless this ballpark becomes.

Comments


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I didn't much like that restaurant sticking out over left-center field anyway. Reminded me of the metrodome football press box. I agree, more outfield seating!

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 08:21 AM by Tim Highlight this comment 1

As always, nice work Rick and again it was nice meeting you on Tuesday!

The Downtown Journal has a very interesting article this week regarding a new neighborhood near the ballpark. The neighborhood (Twinsville) would connect to the ballpark and extent all the way to Washington avenue. This has been discussed in the past, but it looks like it is finally coming to fruition. Hines is in charge of the development and looks to be doing a good job. They are going to incorporate "Dock Street" which will house restaurants, bars, condos and retail. I have attached the article to my name if you would like to read it. However, if you have time to grab the Downtown Journal from this week....it has a picture of what Dock Street will look like.

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 09:02 AM by MOJO Highlight this comment 2

I just paid $20 for a standing room only ticket at San Francisco's AT&T Park. They raise prices for the more attractive games like the one I'll be attending in July when they face the Dodgers. San Francisco is obviously more expensive than Minneapolis, but let's hope that the Twins can do better than $20 for standing room only.

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 09:41 AM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 3

I definitely can see that everyone is nervous about higher prices, and I don't blame people at all for feeling this way. However, if the Twins were to be building a new stadium on a different (bigger) site, I don't really think there would be much difference in the seating plan. Think about it, if they were to build the new stadium in an empty lot somewhere (like the old Met), its not like they would suddenly increase the capacity to 60,000.

The new parks around seem to be built for the around same number of fans as ours (PNC seats 38,500, AT&T has 41,600, Houston has 40,950). Looking at the future parks (excluding the Yankees which are a whole different animal all together), the new Mets stadium will hold 44,000, Washington's park will hold 41,000, the proposed Miami stadium will hold 38,000, and the A's new stadium will hold 34,000!!!

Suddenly the Twins' 42,000-seat stadium doesn't seem that small! The fact is, currently we are playing baseball in a football stadium, and I believe our current prices reflect that. I admit, to me, nothing is better than 55,000 screaming fans filling the Dome during the playoffs, but I would much rather pay the going rate for an outdoor MLB game in a nice, new, baseball-made stadium than be saving a few bucks and be the laughing stock (behind Tampa Bay) for the worst baseball stadium in the bigs.

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 1:42 PM by Ryan Highlight this comment 4

"They are going to incorporate "Dock Street" which will house restaurants, bars, condos and retail."

Is there going to be enough demand for all those condos in the North Loop? Historically, I thought Minneapolis was a poor condo market.

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 3:08 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 5

Were there any questions about the Lights? Are the going to stay with the "halo" or is that even up in the air? Maybe we should sell the idea to the Angels and make a few bucks.

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 3:28 PM by Andrew Bornhoft Highlight this comment 6

Not only the halo of lights, the models still show no light standard in right-field. How do they propose to light up right field?

One thing I really liked about the towering light standards at the Met was it kept the bugs way up high. I'm worried that the halo will attracts swarms of bugs for the folks sitting in the view and terrace levels. Not to mention, anything mounted in the bottom side of the canopy will be a haven for pigeons....ICK!

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 11:46 PM by kevin in az Highlight this comment 7

Literature I have read states that the designers believe the lights from the "halo" will be enough in right field, so that's why there is no light standard out there.

Posted on June 8, 2007 at 09:22 AM by The Tube Highlight this comment 8

Has anybody heard if Hines is making any progress with the City or County on any necessary contribution for their plans? Last I read, there wasn't much cooperation happening.

Posted on June 8, 2007 at 11:38 AM by Bob Highlight this comment 9

Rick, Great Site! Keep up the good work.

I love that drawing of the street outside Cisco park in Oakland. The grassy interior where you can sit outside of the park and see the scoreboard. I'd love to see a parkway style street like that incorporated into "Dock Street". With a two-sided scoreboard of course. This is also similar at Petco Park, another great park.

Posted on June 8, 2007 at 1:26 PM by Jon Highlight this comment 10

I just looked at Oaklands Cisco Field renderings. I have to say there are many more things that I like about there plans than our planned ballpark. First off, the light standards in the outfield and above the canopy. Classic. The angled canopy. Classic. The open sides of the brick exterior. The park doesn't look "heavy". At a glance, it too looks to be fit into a small site. I've was never sold on the artiness of our ballparks exterior and hallowed lit canaopy. I quess I'm a purest. I think the ballpark should look like a ballpark, and not an art museum, which ours looks like form the exterior. Oh well, I'm just glad we'll be outside again. FINALLY !!!

Posted on June 8, 2007 at 3:55 PM by John Highlight this comment 11

I'm pretty sure the proposed site in CA is a big open field that Cisco owns.

Posted on June 8, 2007 at 5:01 PM by The Tube Highlight this comment 12

Yes, "big open field" describes it nicely. If built as planned, they will be creating a sort of artificial cozyness which, while potentially nice, seems a little phony to me.

The Twins have no choice but to get cozy. That's a situation which can really lead to some creativity.

Posted on June 8, 2007 at 5:16 PM by Rick 13

Click on my name for a link to a picture I found of the current Cisco Field site.
If you ask me, it'd be the equivelent of putting Twinsville in, say, Anoka. Not that Anoka isn't worthy, just not quite the place I'd go for authentic coziness, which Cisco Field seems to be trying for. I'm a huge fan of what we're going to get in the North Loop.

Posted on June 9, 2007 at 1:16 PM by John K Highlight this comment 14

John has a good image. My link is to the location as found in Google Earth. That will give you a good idea of just how desolate the area really is. It is literally a gigantic vacant lot (2500 ft by 2000 feet), surrounded mostly by other gigantic vacant lots and adjacent to the Aviso Slough (which is itself gigantic).

Posted on June 9, 2007 at 1:28 PM by Rick 15

The only advantage to having that much space is tailgating. Have you asked Mr. St. Peter the idea behind the lighting set-up? I'm on the fence as to whether I like the halo lighting.

Posted on June 9, 2007 at 2:12 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 16

wtf?

Posted on February 8, 2011 at 8:32 PM by BULLDOG Highlight this comment 17


This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.



"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."

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Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.





Packed SRO beneath the notch.



Staircase view









You won't see much sky from these seats, but you'll always be warm



I still counted 11 flag poles...



The first completed mural



Carew atrium menu part 2



Pile driving in progress



Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)



Some of Minneapolis' finest checking out the construction through a spot where a knothole will be one day.






A mural featuring the names of a bunch of Minnesota towns.



Revised outfield configuration (courtesy HOK Sport)



Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)






Intersection overview






This view, from the Minnekahda building (or possibly a predecessor), looks toward the right field corner. The City Market, at left, occupied the land where the B ramp and Target Plaza now stand (over I-394). And the Overlook now juts out just a little beyond where that driveway enters the railyard.









I didn't check the menu too closely, but it looks like all the standard fare is available, and not much of the non-standard stuff.



TC caps everywhere! (Is that you?)



Miller Park: Gymnasium with skylight (Source: RP)






Giant screened images! (573 Club, my back to Seventh Ave windows)



This is the entrance behind home plate (not visible in the renderings which have been released). It shows that the upper deck is set back from the facade -- a very good thing if it remains in the final design.



CBP: retro in facade only



Fan number 3,030,673 came through this gate a few moments after I took this picture.



The base of the old Met Stadium flagpole. (The plaque refers to the "Flame of Freedom" and not the origin of the pole.)



The Hrbek gate is directly below. It's a lively place after a game.



What has been actually built so far is only a tiny subset of this vision.



This is during halftime.



This is very early in the day.



I could gaze at this streetscape all day. It isn't perfect, but as a model for Minneapolis, I love it. (Except the Biff, of course. Click to enlarge.)



I know you've seen this, but I can't get enough of it.



Bird's-eye view of the trees



Mary Larson (left), a music teacher from Maple Grove, was a TwinsFest SSB winner and got to sing the anthem before the game.



Some baseball legends (and Ron Coomer)



For $19.95 you can load up your plate (one trip only)



If you want, you can ask those folks how the game is going -- and even get a little bit of info from the big screen (Grandstand)












Good seats, but no scoreboard or sky.



Twins in HD on the big board






The Metrodome is converted to its football configuration after the Twins game on August 29, 2002





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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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Selected Bibliography - Surveys
 


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