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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Three weeks ago this was a patch of scruffy trees. Now it's a patio. In case you were wondering, that's where I've been...
Ullger warms up.
Instrument of evil.
A peak inside what will become the main concourse.
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.
What a great sight!
There must be millions of details needing tending
These images are found at the top of the staircase, which leads to the Suite Level.
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.
From the ground beneath the troubled skyway.
Balcony of the Town Ball Tavern.
This view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown and shows how the LRT tracks sort of snuggle up to the ballpark.
Through the windows of the Metropolitan Club you can see one of the displays of Met Stadium memorabilia.
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
Work has begun on the plaza, and the activity has started to impact I-394 traffic.
Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number
OK, it doesn't really look like that at all...
Some details are visible here, like the back of an escalator.
Remember the pitch heard throughout Twins Territory? What an amazing day that was, April 12, 2010. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
One more time from the third base side.
I will take a picture of just about anything.
A new address for the Admin building
Champion's Club details (click to enlarge)
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).
Up inside the circulation building. (That's the LRT platform visible through the windows.)
Walkway construction is progressing
There are no caddies in baseball.
Yes, it's pretty tempting to just walk right in...
Click to see the full-size image.
The brown grass was left over from the first attempt at groundbreaking (canceled after the 35W bridge collapse)