That's Tony Oliva checking out ballpark construction from the roof of Target Center.
It will be widely reported today that the Twins and the city of Minneapolis will be applying to host the All-Star game in 2014. Those hoping for a more substantive announcement from the roof of Target Center today would have been disappointed -- unless they were listening carefully and had been following the project very closely. More on that in a minute.
While it's not a done deal, one has to believe that such an announcement wouldn't be made unless there was a pretty good chance that the event would be awarded. I'm sure the team has had some conversations with the commissioner, maybe just casually and off-the-record. I suspect that's how these things really get decided. In fact, Fox9 reports the All-Star schedule this way:
2009: Busch Stadium, St. Louis (confirmed)
2010: Angel Stadium of Anaheim (confirmed)
2011: Chase Field, Phoenix (unconfirmed)
2012: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City (unconfirmed)
2013: Citi Field, New York (unconfirmed)
Adding 2014 as Minneapolis (unconfirmed, of course) is good news, but the real news was to be found in a quick exchange between Mike Opat and Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, who said that his new budget will include $3 million for pedestrian improvements around the ballpark.
This figure has been tossed around before, and his budget may not be adopted exactly as he intends. But it's a great step for him and the city to make, considering that they have been essentially AWOL on the ballpark project to-date. There is now at least some acknowledgment that the city will benefit from the existence of a major league ballpark within its limits.
Were such a financial commitment not on the table, it would have been hard to stomach the announcement that the city would be trying to cash in on the ballpark without really contributing anything. It's not that I don't want to see the city benefit -- I do. But the ballpark will be a much more coherent addition if it interfaces seamlessly with the rest of its surroundings. Without that, it may as well have been built in the middle of a big suburban parking lot somewhere.
The Target Center rooftop patio. Hardly glamorous, but a great view of the ballpark.
The city has primary control over that aspect, and must be relied upon for facilitating deep integration. It's possible to make an argument that the failure of the Metrodome to stimulate any nearby development is the direct result of the city not taking the necessary steps to create a ripe environment (perhaps at the behest of certain powerful land-owners in the vicinity).
Today's announcement was certainly a feel-good event, complete with a hot dog vendor (handing out real hot dogs) and Cracker Jack party favors. There were bats imprinted with a 2014 All-Star Game logo. Jerry Bell and Dave St. Peter answered questions about the state of construction (on budget, on schedule). Members of the Ballpark Authority were there, as was a representative from Meet Minneapolis (an organization I know little or nothing about, but which sounds valuable). I'm pretty sure I even saw Clyde Doeppner -- owner of a bunch of Met Stadium memorabilia which may find its way into a Twins museum inside the new park.
Did you know there was a little patio on top of the Target Center? It's not much to see, but standing up there it's obvious that portions of Target Center are in serious need of a paint job. And there are weeds growing in the patio cracks. Very weird.
There were media representatives from all the stations, and some web sites I'd never heard of (in fairness, most of them have probably never heard of this site either). There will be lots of coverage, even though it's sort of a minor story -- what with the event nearly six years down the road (and the long-standing practice of getting All-Star games to the most interesting venues in the sport, which this certainly will be).
Tony Oliva acknowledged that he just hopes to be around to see that 2014 All-Star game. We all hope so, Tony.
Tony Oliva, R. T. Rybak and Mike Opat
Left to right: Opat, Oliva, Dave St. Peter, Melvin Tennant (Meet Minneapolis), Jerry Bell, Rybak
"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 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
A very unique space
First Avenue at left, bike parking area at lower right
This is what passes for imagination at Miller Park -- they didn't even get the shape right! (Source: LP)
From the roof of the Minnekahda building (courtesy Bruce Lambrecht).
This is as close as I could get to a pedestrian-eye view of Seventh Street (looking west away from downtown). It's inviting, not imposing, and remarkably dignified.
I never think of Ron Jackson at all.
I took this picture from the Overlook at great personal risk, because everything Thome was hitting was landing out that direction.
This will be a great sight on game nights.
The Seventh Street facade
Photo by Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune
Here's the view as you step to the front of the outer moat beyond first base.
Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)
Not much facade left to be finished at this point.
Nuts on Clark (a couple blocks north of Wrigley Field)
Franchise history before Minnesota. (Click to enlarge.)
The future history of Minnesota ballparks will go here
A little higher angle shows how the two stations are close to one another but distinctly separate. The oval, glass-enclosed area is the entrance from the Northstar platform below into the ballpark. The LRT platform is comparable to the other stations along that route.
TC meets the Mayor (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number
7:42 PM It moves to the left in the image and begins to blossom.
Secret entrance exposed!
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.
Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
View level as seen through the Seventh Street circulation ramp