New Ballpark May Have Manual Scoreboards After All (for a while)
April 1, 2008 10:07 AM
I promise that I'm going to get to the new Nationals ballpark later today. But this little tidbit can't wait.
What started out as a small design and construction problem is quickly turning into a major issue. I've been hearing rumblings for a month or so, but couldn't confirm it until today (EDIT: April the First -- nudge, nudge).
According to the design documents I saw last summer, all of the video cabling for the new park, some of which is already buried in multiple layers of concrete, was designed and is being installed specifically to meet HD-DVD standards. This wouldn't be a problem but for the fact that Toshiba pulled the plug on HD-DVD back in February. As you probably know, Blu-Ray won out in the standards war, and HD-DVD has all but disappeared from the marketplace.
This means that a gigantic investment has been rendered nearly -- but not completely -- unusable. I've been trying to get Dave St. Peter to talk about this but without success so far. Dan Kenney, over at the Ballpark Authority, hasn't actually confirmed it, but when I asked, he would only say (repeatedly) that the Twins have agreed to pay for all cost overruns. I suspect that something like this would have to be considered a cost overrun, right?
Looking into the technology, it appears that unless the cabling can be upgraded in place (a very difficult proposition), the new scoreboards will be limited to 1080I resolution instead of the higher 1080P resolution which had been always intended. From a distance, you might not notice anything at first, but it's really a pretty major downgrade -- considering what they're spending on the various hi-def boards.
The preferred solution is to remove the incompatible cabling and replace it entirely. But this could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to six months of retro-fitting, and possibly (though not likely) even jeopardize the April 2010 opening. I did hear that two hand-operated manual scoreboards have been designed and will be built in the summer of 2009 if it looks like the hi-def won't be ready to go for the first few months of the 2010 season. That way they can at least open the park, and maybe even have a little fun with it. (Though I bet the whole mess could get pretty embarrassing...)
Well, today I think I finally confirmed this by peering through the chain link fence on the Seventh Street side. There were a couple of guys working with jackhammers cutting very precise lines in the almost brand new concrete. If you know of another reason why they might be doing this, please let me know because I can't think of any.
I was able to snap this unfortunately blurry picture (click to see a digitally-enhanced version):
On the bright side, the Twins could just choose to stick with HD-DVD, in which case when the park opens they will get a high-end player for $99 and five free HD-DVD movies, including "The Bad News Bears" (Billy Bob Thornton remake version) and "Damn Yankees."
You gotta have heart! Happy April!
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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."
– Bernie Williams
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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.
A detailed crowd shot. Click to enlarge greatly.
The lights went on, and it was a Good Thing
Here's where I was when the alarm went off, and though the siren wasn't terribly loud, at least one guy is plugging his ears.
Click to enlarge.
The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Click to enlarge.
Work in progress to improve the streetscape on Second Avenue
Ullger warms up.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Section A, Row WC
That's Noah and my brother, Chris, checking out the Loge Box amenities
This is the outside portion of the Metropolitan Club.
From the roof of the B ramp, you can see just how futile it will be to get a glimpse of the action.
Loading dock -- already in use!
Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)
At left, across the tracks by that pile of dirt is where the Northstar commuter train platform will be built, and where Twins fans will apparently NOT be able to get a train after night games. (For reference, that's the Fifth Street bridge, with the ballpark site just beyond it. The east corner of Ford Centre is just visible at the right edge of the picture.)
This is the staircase (ramp?) leading up to the trapezoid. Nice flagpole too. You'll be able to find me and Ben McEvers at the base of that flagpole on opening day in 2010!
Viewed from a different angle, it seems fair to wonder is some of those seats will have slightly obscured views. Yet, if they're cheap, that's not a problem.
Those two empty seats in the front row are where we started the game.
A skyway-level view down Seventh Street.
Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
This view is from the roof of a warehouse which stood where the A ramp is today. The HERC is now located where the tracks turned north (toward the top).
This is a background image extracted from one of the blueprint pages. It's essentially a schematic of the park (Terrace Level). In it you can see the shape of the various seating areas (to a certain extent).
Do you know who did this drawing? If so, please tell me so I can give them proper credit.
Stairs and escalator down to the platform
Gate 29 Carew
This is what passes for imagination at Miller Park -- they didn't even get the shape right! (Source: LP)
Seventh Street windows
At lower left are the seats I'm not going to use any time soon.
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
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures