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Meet the Ballpark Authority

June 22, 2006 1:25 AM

Joan Campbell

Joan Campbell

In the news this week, the city has appointed former City Council member Joan Campbell as their representative to the new Ballpark Authority. Yesterday, Hennepin County announced their two appointees: retiring Republican state representative Barb Sykora from Excelsior and the very-well-connected Steve Cramer, who is also a former City Council member.

Two more members will be named soon (probably tomorrow) by the governor.

Barb Sykora

Barb Sykora

The Ballpark Authority is something of an odd duck, being a political body and yet also a construction manager. You'll note that all of the appointees so far are politicians first, and not necessarily ballpark experts. But they have the authority to hire people to take care of the nitty gritty. The text of the law places no limits on how big their organization can be, just saying they have the authority to hire whomever it takes to get the job done.

And the job includes everything from buying the land, to negotiating contracts with entities as varied as the team, the construction companies and the various governmental bodies which will be involved. Eventually, they will be the official "owners" of the ballpark and responsible for its everyday operations.

But their first big task will be to hire an architect.

I asked Dave St. Peter about this process, wondering how they feel about having someone else -- a public body, no less -- deciding who will design their park. He seemed unconcerned, saying, "It's a public facility, and the public should have something to say about the design." He also noted that the Twins will have a liason to the authority and expect to have "something to say" about the architect, but are happy playing within the rules of the bill.

So I looked at the "rules of the bill" and found this odd clause, the purpose of which is a bit unclear:

The authority may contract for materials, supplies, and equipment ... except that the authority, with the consent of the county, may employ or contract with persons, firms, or corporations to perform one or more or all of the functions of architect, engineer, or construction manager with respect to all or any part of the ballpark and public infrastructure. Alternatively, at the request of the team and with the consent of the county, the authority shall authorize the team to provide for the design and construction of the ballpark and related public infrastructure, subject to terms of this act.

This sounds like the team could request control for themselves, and the county and Ballpark Authority could grant it if they want. One wonders if this isn't what will ultimately take place.

Anyway, it's too early to say much about the members of this committee. Biographical information is tough to come by. City Pages ran a fine story about Joan Campbell's departure from the City Council in 2001. Cramer is mentioned in passing in another City Pages story about Bassett Creek which, as I noted a couple of weeks ago, runs directly beneath the ballpark site. Cramer also can be found associated with many big development deals in the city when he worked as director of the MCDA. I can't find much of interest on Sykora beyond her official legislature page.

I will certainly try to contact all of them for initial thoughts about the project. In addition to being a Big Development Deal, my hope is that they realize this is also a ballpark -- that is, a building being built within a special culture. In that way it differs substantially from everything else they may have done.

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Joan Campbell was known as carrying labor's water during her time at City Hall. She is definitely friendly to the Construction Trades and is probably their "rep."

I think Barb Sykora could be considered an old school republican, more interested in fiscal conservancy and looking out for business interests than in conservative social issues such as school prayer, et al. She represents some pretty tony areas around Lake Minnetonka.

Steve Cramer has been a City Council member and headed the MCDA while the Heritage Park development deal was being negotiated. Also was the head of Project for Pride in Living -- a non-profit developer of affordable housing. Knows his way around a pro forma and development deals, well connected to the City. Good guy.

As for architect. It will be interesting how HOK fits in. They have been selected to do TCF Bank Stadium and are doing three very high profile ballparks out east: Washington Nationals, NY Mets, NY Yankees. Assuming their best talent will be working on those parks, do they have the horses to also work on the Twins ballpark?

Posted on June 22, 2006 at 09:06 AM by freealonzo Highlight this comment 1

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Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond



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Stairs wrap around the skyway escape tower. A very nice finishing touch.



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Back of scoreboard; facade in context.






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There must be millions of details needing tending



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