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.
Awesome seat. Awesome sun. Awesome hitter. (Photo by Tony Voda, courtesy Jared Wieseler)
Click to enlarge.
Grid for the ironwood louvres is in place
The connection from the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue. You can now see where the little grassy area and franchise history board will be (the triangular area in the foreground).
From behind the wind veil
The Guthrie Theater's Wurtele Thrust Stage seating
This would be easy to miss, but I found it on a cart located directly behind the Batter's Eye seating on the upper concourse in center field.
Beams connecting the plaza to the Target Center walkway
Ballpark elevation viewed from Seventh Street. (Click to enlarge.)
8:02 PM It's at peak, affecting mostly the upper deck.
The finished product.
Lots of people are doing it.
An early concept for St. Paul.
They could not help the Twins on this night.
The view from my seats in Section 237 (The Trap), Row 1 (can't see much of center field without standing up...)
Close-up on the diagram of the Club Level with finishing materials (click to enlarge)
Touring the Rapid Park site (L-R: Commissioners Wade, Vekich, Sykora, Cramer, and tour guide Chuck Ballentine, source: RP)
Wood-backed seats viewed through gate 6
CBP: retro in facade only
Do you think somebody's already cooking hot dogs out there?
Roped off for the LRT crowd
Lower deck view of the out-of-town scoreboard.
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.