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Bad Ballparks

June 25, 2007 12:03 AM

It's a little hard to believe that a single state can house two of the worst parks in baseball.

It had been a while since I watched a game which originated in Dolphin Stadium, and I took the opportunity this afternoon to read up about it in the fabulous Complete Guide to Big League Ballparks from the good folks over at Ballpark Digest. About the time I finished the article, Dicknbert were talking about how the equivalent here would be the Twins playing in a park called Viking Stadium.

The indignity of the naming aside, it sounds like a truly terrible place to see big league baseball. Put that together with the Tropicana Concrete Catwalk Palace, and you have a lot of games played under awful fan conditions. Setting the level of play aside for a moment, is it any wonder that neither of these teams has been able to build much of a fan base?

Maybe the Metrodome's claim on the title "worst ballpark ever" is more slippery than I've always thought.

New Renderings

I had a chance this week to see some revised renderings of the Twins ballpark. These are not publicly available yet, but they do show that the design is still undergoing deep review within the Twins organization, and they are not above making changes even at this relatively late date.

The primary change was the significant shrinkage of the restaurant out in center field. It looked not quite half the size as in the familiar drawing. In it's place was an expansion of the outfield seats which has previously been mentioned here. that, in turn, corrected one of my growing concerns about the angle of the seats in that left field pavilion. There is now a slight bend extending up from where the fence bends, allowing all those seats to face the infield directly.

In addition, a party deck has appeared on top of the building at the left field corner. This should please MOJO!

Media Notes

Reusse had an interesting tidbit today:

Complications have ensued with the smallish site behind the Target Center parking ramps. Twins owner Carl Pohlad's contribution in the original deal was advertised as $130 million, but team officials have accepted it will be closer to $200 million by the time the slow-moving outdoor ballpark opens in April 2010.

Hennepin County's investment is capped at $350 million, so the Pohlad family figures to wind up with roughly 35 percent of the tab.

He says this like it's a bad thing! Sounds like the Pohlads are interested in seeing the site work and are willing to commit with their wallets. What could be wrong with that?

Of course, he's writing in the context of simmering negotiations to replace the Dome with a new Vikings stadium. The total dollars maybe should make people nervous, but all of the numbers I've heard the Vikings use seem somehow more realistic than anything the Twins ever used. Wilf doesn't seem like a scammer to me. He seems like someone who it's safe to do a deal with. Maybe that's why Pogemiller (and the Legislature as a whole) could be a little more receptive to what he has to say.

I'm also a bit baffled by the characterization of the project as "slow-moving." In addition to new renderings, I looked at some time-lines this week which show everything as almost exactly on schedule.

What some people, including Reusse, seem to overlook is that there is a huge amount of boring legal work which must be accomplished before any earth can be moved. Just think about what it takes to convince a railroad that they need to move their railroad tracks! I was impressed to learn that all of the major documents necessary to begin this project have been completed and signed. That this got done in less than 12 months is something of a minor miracle given the complexity of the site.

It would be instructive to compare our site to those of, say, the Yankees, Mets, and Nats. (I'll get right on it.)

About Those Complications...

Mike Kaszuba has a piece in today's Strib which touches base with Bruce Lambrecht on the eve of the hearings which will determine the value of the ballpark land.

The final value will be interesting in that it will settle once and for all who was being realistic and who was being grabby. I'll be very disappointed if the value comes in exactly halfway between the county's offer ($13.35 million) and the landowners' request (which we still don't know, but is said to be up to six times that much).

Let's give credit to Lambrecht for at least one thing: his idea to put a ballpark on this land was inspired. It will likely be a home run for everybody involved. I remember those early drawings (mentioned in Kaszuba's article) and how they made the whole thing seem not just plausible, but exciting. From the very first time I heard this idea, the whole thing seemed like something which was probably too good to ever happen. There had to be a catch.

Early Concept Drawing

An early concept drawing for the site

Condemnation may have eliminated one of those catches, and there are a few more hovering out there which will have to be addressed. But I'm willing to give Lambrecht credit for the initial vision -- even if he had something to gain.

Land Deal

You've probably read that the Vikings bought up a bunch of land around the Metrodome, and even managed to get an option on the one missing piece (the Strib's main headquarters site). While this has no real impact on the Twins, it highlights something often overlooked when talking about stadiums.

Wilf is a developer, and he knows a thing or two about land values. He was smart enough to move at a moment when the seller, the Star Tribune, was in deep need of some fast cash. Does it matter to him whether a new stadium gets built near there?

On one level, it does not. The land is pretty valuable with or without a new stadium. Of course it's probably worth more in the long run if he gets his retractable roof. And the purchase sends a pretty clear message to the Legislature about his commitment level to making something work.

As far as I'm concerned, this land deal is a masterstroke. And I hope he gets what he wants because it will be very good for that still-bleak end of downtown.

About That Surface Parking

I'm sure you've read here or elsewhere about the surface parking lot to be built to the southwest of the new ballpark. One of the early options discussed was to build a parking ramp at that location, with the idea that something could be built above that ramp at a later date.

But everyone involved was mindful of that little parking ramp next to the LRT station at the Metrodome. It, too, was built with the idea that something could later be built on top of it. But that is easier said than done. It's almost impossible to know how to build a foundation unless you know what kind of building is going to go on top of it...

Instead, the Twins will build surface parking, and have struck a deal with MnDOT to have a special area of the "A" ramp set aside for any additional parking they need. Then, in exchange for covering the potential increased cost of land acquisition, the team obtained the right (for 15 years) to develop above that triangular piece of land.

Long-term, this could be very good for the team and the ballpark, and it sounds like a very clever way to have resolved the land value stand-off.

Thanks

Thank you to everyone who extended their sympathies in the past week. I'm not sure how she would have felt about being memorialized here -- my grandma was never overly sentimental. But your kind words and stories have been appreciated.

And thanks for stopping by today!

Comments


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Is there any word about when those updated drawings will become public?

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 10:22 AM by kevin in az Highlight this comment 1

right after the condemnation hearings. They need to know whether they can afford limestone or move the big blue baggie from the metrodome to line the exterior...

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 10:32 AM by zygmiester Highlight this comment 2

that would be cool. they should incorporate that big blue baggie into the design. without the dodge ads on it.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 11:10 AM by mike Highlight this comment 3

hahaha, good one zygmiester, what a cool funny person you are. cough cough....

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 11:15 AM by Tim Highlight this comment 4

Taken from the recently posted Strib article;

"He also noted that the value of land in downtown Minneapolis may have risen with the recent purchase of four city blocks near the Metrodome by Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, for a reported $45 million. Wilf bought the property from the owners of the Star Tribune."

Who's the moron on this site that said this transaction would have "no bearing?" It was used in the OPENING ARGUMENTS for crying out loud....

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 12:48 PM by zygmiester Highlight this comment 5

Good news about the seating on top of the left field corner building. The more unique options for seating the better.

Now I wish that those involved in the planning would make sure that there is enough quality seating in the upper decks behind homeplate. (We don't want what they are doing in Washington D.C.) I'm hoping they at least decide to move some of these seats closer to the action, which should happen since they are so worried about the small site and railroad tracks anyway.

The Mets' Citi Field is further along the construction process than Yankee Stadium II. The initial construction photos for both of these projects are rather bland so far, much like their renderings.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 1:33 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 6

let's wait to hear the other side. they can argue using the metrodome transaction all they want. you're some freaking shill for the landowners because you're a stadium opponent. go sniff some more glue. 65 million, that's a laughable amount.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 1:53 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 7

Maricopa County Stadium District pays off Chase Field debt 19 years early.

Click the link for the story.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 2:20 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 8

I'll bet that LPII is laughing a lot more than Mike Opat by the end of this deal.....

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 2:23 PM by reallytim? Highlight this comment 9

dude just go to another site. you can't even put down your real name or email.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 2:40 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 10

Like I'd give you a shot at my email.

65 cents is probably a "laughable" amount to you. What do you care the Rapid Park site costs? it only costs you 3 cents on 20 bucks, right? The problem is the whole process stinks and this is just the beginning. When this thing is done, the whole county will be taken for ride. Non sports fans by having to help pay for this fiasco, and baseball fans because they got sold a "bill of goods" by snake oil salesmen Opat...nobody wins! except Carl of course.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 6:50 PM by duuuuuuude Highlight this comment 11

STM/zygmiester also called the readers of this site a bunch of "f*gs" at the Greet Machine. He's just another punk that talks trash behind a computer and would never have the balls to say anything like that in person.

Posted on June 25, 2007 at 7:19 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 12


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Overview of the storage tracks.



The right field overhang as seen from Seventh Street (with dude)












Trees now line Seventh Street



Frost on the pumpkins, snow on the plaza






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This was on BPM night. Nice neon, but I'm still waiting to see the homer show.



Denard Span ready, in a swoop of sunlight.



The right field overhang is in place, and the first base stands are starting to go in.



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Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)



Someone please get those poor people a drink of water. (Gate 34, after the game had started)



Grid for the ironwood louvres is in place






View level as seen through the Seventh Street circulation ramp






A very unique space















Photo by Tyler Wycoff



Quote wall






Big board, as viewed from section 327, row 9.



The Northstar station at night



Cleveland






Chef stand and menu in the Carew atrium



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The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)



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Better them than me



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Delmon Young getting warmed up






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TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)



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