Here we are, the season underway, and we're relegated to listening/watching from a distance, drooling with anticipation at the chance to see another game down in the Railyard.
While we wait, let's look back at the weekend. Here are the boys taking their field for the first time:
I'm not ready to do any systematic review yet, but here are a few thoughts from my experiences this weekend. The experience was, for me, like most of you, overwhelmingly positive.
The first pitch.
On Friday night, I raced down to the Glove to meet faithful ninja Danny, who responded to my plea for a spare ticket. (Words can't describe how grateful I am, Dan!)
Flagpole At the Ready
Flagpole historian Ben McEvers at far right (click for the full photo set, graciously loaned to this site by Pat Backen)
The Twins took a moment on Friday night to recognize some representatives from the Richfield American Legion who kindly presented the team with an American flag and a POW flag to be flown from the old Met Stadium flagpole.
That moment marked the end of the long saga that took the pole from the demolition of the old stadium, to a prominent spot on Portland Avenue for almost a quarter of a century, and finally back to a baseball field -- where it certainly belongs.
The ceremony was attended by Joe Pohlad (who has also been seen handing miniature statues to Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew), and was recorded -- along with radio interviews -- for posterity.
The whole story has twists and turns that no one could have imagined when the idea first surfaced. I'm going to try and tell you some of those twists and turns in the next few days. But we can all say that we're relieved that the saga is over, and with a happy ending.
My hope was to witness the flagpole dedication (see sidebar), but I was thwarted by the LRT. Technically, of course, it was my own fault. I apparently got on a train too late to make it in time.
But it highlights a big difference between riding the train to the Metrodome and riding it all the way to Target Field. That difference is stoplights.
From my station (Midtown) to the Metrodome is all separate right-of-way. The train preempts stoplights when it encounters them along the way, and flows essentially separate from the parallel auto traffic (mostly on Hiawatha Avenue).
But once you come up around the Metrodome, the train joins the downtown grid and loses all of its useful preemptive abilities. It sits at stoplights just like everybody else.
From the official train schedule, Midtown to the Dome is about 2 1/4 miles in 7 minutes (20 MPH). From the Dome to TF is just under a mile in around 9 minutes (6 MPH). That's a big difference.
I didn't realize this (though I should have) or I would have set out half an hour sooner. (Central Corridor riders take note. Your route will be stoplights all the way. Though they are promising that light timing will be either adjusted or preempted in certain stretches by the train, your overall experience will be much more like the Dome-to-TF leg of Hiawatha than the VA-to-Dome leg.)
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Lots of speakers, but in some places, no sound.
I've had a few weird experiences now with the sound system, and I'm wondering whether it's actually complete.
For one thing, you generally can't make out what the PA announcer is saying from the main concourse. I've also heard complaints from people sitting down close to the field.
I know that there were probably some choices that had to be made to prevent the audio from broadcasting all around the neighborhood (and duplicating complaints that came from people up to a mile away from TCF Bank stadium last fall). But muting the concourses (and some bathrooms) wouldn't seem to be required for that.
It bears listening.
Stand Up and, um, Watch!
I've seen a few comments come through about drink rails, mostly complaints that there weren't enough. But I have to admit that I'm totally bowled over by how much standing room there is in this park. I bet they could sell 10,000 SRO tickets to a playoff game. It's one of those unexpected pleasant surprises.
I'm too short to see over that wall. How about a little platform or something?
Standing, standing, standing.
This is a great spot for casually watching the game.
A spot that's always full!
One friend said to me that people are essentially treating their tickets like cover charges and then just walking around to watch the game from various positions. I'll admit that I did that very thing for both exhibition games, sitting in a seat for no more than a couple of innings.
It does make me suspect that it will be a little longer than I originally thought before the concourses settle down a bit. They were still pretty packed at these games.
I took this because of the view reflected in the store windows. (The store is cool too.)
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I made a comment about seat articulation -- or lack thereof -- after the Gopher game. I've had a chance to do a little more observation on this, and it's more of a mixed bag than my first impression.
You may remember that one of the early features touted was that every seat in the park would face the infield. Well, that just plain isn't the case, though it's not as bad as I first thought.
In addition to whole sections being articulated toward the infield, I found many seating areas that featured some additional articulation of the actual seats. In the upper deck, for example, it's quite excellent.
But the lower deck has some spots where the combination of section and seat angles comes up short. Specifically, it looks like the Field Box and outer Diamond Box sections may be affected. I'm still researching this, so please report what you experience.
Mauer steps in for the first time.
Somebody asked how long it would be before the tarp had a sponsor. Well, not very long.
By the way, I'm putting together an area on this site where you will be able to post and read reviews of seating sections. Hope to have it up by opening day...
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Next, because I'm a geek, I have to note my frustration at Verizon's data services at Target Field. I tried repeatedly to send pictures in real time to keep all of you who could not be there up to date. But I couldn't get a picture out to save my soul.
My hunch is that Verizon is prioritizing voice and plain text messages over picture messages (which take up a whole lot more bandwidth than simple text). Either that or they don't have either enough capacity or a close enough tower to Target Field to do the job. Every one of my attempts would connect, then stall and fail. That's a sure sign that it's being metered somehow.
I contacted their media department with the question, but have not gotten an answer. If I get one, I'll let you know. (Blackberry users seem to have no problems, by the way.)
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Finally, for today, one more quick story.
I took 4-year-old Noah with me to the Gopher game for no other reason than I just wanted to show him the park. He was a trouper, even when it got a little cold and the concession wait got a little long. He wore my old TC hat, far too big for his head, most of the way.
While we were there, he asked me a couple of times, "Why are you laughing, Dad?" I had no reason. And I wasn't so much laughing as just plain giggling at what I was seeing in semi-disbelief.
Well, it must have made an impression on him, as apparently has some of my other talk about the place. Yesterday, he brought home this drawing from school:
"It's Target Field, Dad! And that's you looking at it! And there's the flagpole!"
(For the record, I believe that the green extension is the grass beneath the Overlook.)
It's maybe the best gift I've ever gotten, and Target Field is now, at least for me, a place where fathers connect with sons. Ballpark magic.
"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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
I had to hold the camera as far over my head as I could to get this shot, in which the infield is finally visible. It's a spot made for your average Timberwolves player.
...but you can get a feel for what it will be like.
Bronze glove delivered (awaiting installation) with Met flag pole horizontal behind the gate
Here's one big problem with a retractable roof: completely terrible seating in left. These scant few seats would have been tucked under the track. No sunshine, no open concourse, it was a terribly kludgy idea. With some hindsight, it's very clear that adding a retractable roof on this small site would have required compromises which would have just been too extensive to tolerate. Without it, the design was free to grow into something much more memorable.
You can't get there from here.
Click to enlarge.
They help create a psychological safe area along the plaza edge, and help you forget that cars are zipping by directly beneath you.
Branding on the plaza
The rough outlines of our urban trench. (North is up.)
Write your own caption. (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
2007, Noah's first game (Torii's last)
Click to see the full-size image.
A sign that your mall is all but dead: roped off escalators. (This is at about 4:00 PM on a weekday.)
Here you can see the real beauty of the Seventh Street side, and get a solid sense of why the overall design really works. The building's purpose is clearly visible, there are numerous connections from inside to outside, scale is nicely mitigated, the stone is attractively used, materials are pleasantly mixed and truly complementary. It's just a winner in so many ways.
You can get a hand-carved sandwich, or ice cream while pondering the career of Julio Becquer.
The plaza as seen from the B ramp.
The splendid view from the roof of the Minikahda building. (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Such promise. (Click to enlarge.)
Target Plaza looking toward the grandstand
This looks south and shows the track configuration for Northstar. The platform shown is just a placeholder. To the best of my knowledge, concept drawings for this platform have not been released. Keep in mind, this is NOT part of the ballpark project. It is completely separate.
Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.
This opportunity is half a block up Third Avenue and thousands of people walk right by before and after games.
From the Downtown Council's 2025 Plan, a Metrodome "Revelopment" and a strong indication of where they think a new Vikings stadium should go.
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
I meant to include this shot the other day. It's the new LRT bridge being built next to the remaining half of the Fifth Street bridge. The new half is almost TWICE the width of the portion torn down. And the other end runs right into a HERC administration building! (Click to see the view from nearly the same spot about 85 years ago.)
Here's a curious little room at the end of the circulation ramp. What could they be selling there?
Circulation building with construction team on top
In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.