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Who's Got the Details?

The Ballpark Authority is Set, But It's Missing Something Big

June 29, 2006 9:58 PM

Thanks for stopping by today. There is no shortage of things to write about, just something of a shortage of time in my schedule to do it. I also prefer to really think about topics rather than just tossing off a few words about something random. I hope you find something interesting here, and can stop back every few days to hear some new thoughts, and add your own.

Speaking of adding your own, it's been reported that the Twins web site only allows 250 characters for you to submit ideas. I haven't checked this but if it's true, that's not enough!

I've added a page strictly for your ideas (linked here and in the menu on the right). Make them as elaborate as you want. There's no limit on space. After we've collected a bunch, I'll forward them to the Twins through whatever channels I can muster.

Be creative!

Impractical, expensive, undeniably cool (Anaheim Stadium, source LP)

Impractical, expensive, undeniably cool (Angel Stadium, source LP)

In a minute I'm going to talk about the importance of ballpark details like the one pictured above. First, let me tell you why it's on my mind.

The governor has made his appointments to the Ballpark Authority, and I feel like I should comment. But there's nearly nothing to say about John Wade and Michael Vekich other than what you've already heard. Wade heads the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and Vekich runs Skyline Exhibits (trade show displays) and is a regent of the University of Minnesota. He was also once a Minneapolis City Council member and an interim head of the Minnesota Lottery a few years back.

*Yawn* I'd write more, but getting hold of these people has been impossible. (If you are reading this, Ballpark Authority members, check your email, OK?)

Comerica Park main entrance

Comerica Park main entrance: Tigers, bats, and much (maybe too much) more (Source: LP)

So the committee which will build the ballpark is now set. I'm trying real hard to withold any judgement about this group until we see some of their first moves. But I'm a natural cynic when it comes to political appointees.

Frankly, I was hoping there would be at least one acknowledged ballpark and/or Minnesota baseball expert. But I miscalculated the job of this body.

This is what passes for imagination at Miller Park

This is what passes for imagination at Miller Park -- they didn't even get the shape right! (Source: LP)

It's clear from the pedigrees of these people that they are experts in large development projects, the content of which is rather immaterial.

Maybe this is good. (Maybe not.)

It certainly means that the Twins liaison to this body will be of the utmost importance. The committee members will be very busy negotiating contracts and hiring contractors and such. They will probably have little interest in what the scoreboard looks like, but they'll be very concerned about who will build it and how much they'll get paid.

These are important matters, to be sure. But also important are all the details. And history has shown that these details cannot be left to engineers or people who lack imagination. That's how you get things like concrete donuts, and New Comiskey. That's how you get Metrodomes.

Someone has to be the Imagination of this ballpark, and there's no one fitting that description on the Ballpark Authority. I don't know enough about the Twins organization to know who it might be on the inside, but I certainly hope there is someone with creativity, good taste, restraint, persuasive abililties, and a sense of history.

You see, someone has to become the heart and soul of this place while it is being imagined, designed and built. Someone must oversee things like colors (green is nice, but let's not just copy the other teams, OK?), entrances, historical connections, the shape of the infield cutouts -- even such minutia as the font used on the outfield walls, and the detail on the arm rests and drain covers. Someone must care that the place has a character which matches (even inspires) the team and the franchise. Someone must agonize over the color of the brick or the exact shade of the seats. Someone must imagine all the little touches that fans will only notice on their 20th or 30th trip to the park.

A few details worth noticing

A few details worth noticing (Kauffmann Stadium, New Comiskey, Comerica Park, Source: LP)

It cannot be the architects or engineers, though they'll certainly do the first draft. And now it is clear that it will not be the members of the Ballpark Authority. This is something of a disappointment, but I should have seen it coming. It's going to have to be someone from the team -- and this must be their only job.

This person (or team) will need clout because details add expense. Some will see added expense as the enemy at all times. Others -- who are wiser -- will realize that such small expenses make the place a Place. The best will use imagination and improve the design without adding expense.

Guthrie Theater (original design colors)

Guthrie Theater (original design colors)

Think about the new Guthrie Theater. The exterior facade was originally to be tan in color in order to echo surrounding buildings. But somewhere along the way it was decided that blue, while not moving in unison with the buildings around, harmonizes nicely with them. What's more, midnite blue is truer to the purpose of the building. The color change likely cost nothing more than the original design, but made a huge difference in the finished result.

Now, the Guthrie organization is filled with artists, so it's not really a surprise that they got the artistic decisions right. But what about the Twins organization? What about HOK (the odds-on favorite to get the architectural gig)? What about the Ballpark Authority?

This is why I'm thinking about details now.

I remember when MLB told the Cubs to add lights to Wrigley Field. Though it went against a long tradition, the reasons for doing it were all practical, and the time had come to give up the tradition and make the change.

They could have simply put up vertical light standards spaced evenly around the park. I bet this would have been cheap and fast. This would have been the easy way to do it.

The right way, of course, was something altogether different. Some imagination was required, as well as a little bit more money. The character of the ballpark was at stake and, to their credit, the Cubs organization took the high road. In doing it the right way, they not only solved a problem of practicality, but they actually improved on their already-amazing stadium. The put a crown on top of their jewel.

The lights went on, and it was a Good Thing

The lights went on, and it was a Good Thing

The point is that while function is important, it takes just a little bit of extra effort and imagination (and possibly money) to go from functional to beautiful, from practical to magical. The Ballpark Authority and the Twins will need to make sure someone is in charge of making the place everything it can be.

That's something they lack out of the gate, and will need to find very quickly.


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No surprises with the ballpark commission. Governments see this as a big public works project and have appointed people who represent big public works projects, can negotiate contracts, etc. I am interested in the Ballpark Implementation Committee that is talked about at the City. Currently Councilmembers Johnson and Goodman are on it, and there is talk that staff people may be involved too. Is this a City-only organization or will other parties be involved. If the later, a Twins Representative and an outdoor ballpark advocate should be on the committee.

At the University, for big projects or renovations, a working committee is established that consists of members of the unit for whom the building is intended as well as members of facility management, capital planning, etc. It is this working group that works closely with the architect on program elements, including sometimes the little architectural details you mention above. Hopefully the Ballpark Commission institutes something similar or that the ballpark implementation committee takes up this role.

P.S. That entrance at Comerica is too busy, I am hoping for something a little graceful.

Posted on July 6, 2006 at 10:43 AM by freealonzo Highlight this comment 1

I heard from a source that works under Pohlad that some members of the Twins front office including St. Peter have been scouting other newer ballparks, not limited to parks the Twins have played in this season. Did anyone read Jim Caple's rankings of MLB ballparks for a few years ago? Good stuff.

Posted on July 7, 2006 at 03:33 AM by CG Highlight this comment 2

From Dave St. Peters Blog.....he is referring to the new St Louis Ballpark...

"and a split upper deck (which is the same design we would like to implement in Minnesota's new ballpark)."

Does anyone know why they do this?

I personally don't like the design of a split upper deck. I think it looks awkward!!!

Is anyone a fan of this design?

Posted on July 11, 2006 at 10:33 AM by MOJO Highlight this comment 3

After checking out new Busch on google images, I can see why they do this. For one it places more seats toward the field instead of farther back like the metrodome.

It should also be easier for both parts of the upper deck to get to the concourse since each section will have multiple sets of stairs, which in theory should lead to less congestion.

As for the design, I'm not sure what to make. Without fans it does look a little awkward. With fans it looks fine. Generally if the stadium has more sections they will have more options for ticket prices...even in the upper deck.

Posted on July 11, 2006 at 4:42 PM by CG Highlight this comment 4

CG.....I think I might have confused St Peter's comments. I thought he was referring to a Split or Break in the upper deck similar to the park in Philadelphia. I posted a link to a picture that refers to what I am talking about.....just click on my name. The reason I brought this up is because St Louis also has this design.

I think I would be ok if there are 2 upper decks similar to what you mentioned, however I am not a fan of the "break" in the upper deck.

Posted on July 11, 2006 at 5:39 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 5

I hear ya, it seems like the break is a spatial thing so they can overlap some seats. What do you think the pros and cons would be of this style?

Posted on July 11, 2006 at 10:57 PM by CG Highlight this comment 6

Quick correction about Miller Park - your photo is from the Brewers "Walk of Fame," and has nothing to do with "preserving" home plate or the old Milwaukee County Stadium. The old Milwaukee County Stadium home plate has been preserved in the Little League Park that lies just outside the home plate entrance of Miller Park - on the grounds of the old stadium! All summer long, little league players, girls softball players, adult kickball teams, etc. get to play on the same field that used to be Milwaukee County Stadium. And, the original home plate is preserved in the left field concourse of the little league stadium, and a tribute to the Milwaukee Braves has been erected along this left field line as well. The foul poles in the little league field are the original foul poles from Milwaukee County Stadium also. We think they got a lot of things right in Milwaukee, and the little league park is booked solid - each and every year. There is a waiting list to get in the place. People in Milwaukee love it!

By the way, several Twin Cities little league teams played in the little league park prior to a Brewers - Twins interleague game recently!

We love our little league park and its ties to our good old Milwaukee County Stadium. Miller Park got a lot of stuff right - I hope we can do as well in Minneapolis. Please keep the creative ideas coming. That's where these good concepts come from - interested fans and citizens!

Posted on October 1, 2006 at 5:47 PM by Mike Duckett Highlight this comment 7

Mike is correct that there is a very nice plaque located at the site of County Stadium's home plate. It's off the third base line of the little league park, up in front of a concession area. Very cool.

The "home plate" shown above is just a cement imprint in a generic sidewalk which circles the outside of Miller Park. But to be correct, one of the corners should really be a 90-degree angle. As it is, it looks more like an aerial view of the Pentagon than a home plate.

I haven't written my full review of Miller Park. I agree, Mike, that they got some things very right. I'll try to focus on the positives a little more. -- Rick

Posted on October 31, 2006 at 12:10 AM by Rick 8

good job

Posted on May 9, 2007 at 4:37 PM by joe Highlight this comment 9

My dad's company, Architectural Alliance, along with Jean Nouvel, one of the worlds leading superstar architects did the Guthrie. Those kinds of decisions are made at the very highest level of design. I have no doubt that HOK will do a fantastic job with the stadium. If you have ever been to any of their stadiums, you will be amazed. They are set to partner with my dad's firm on the new Gopher football stadium, which will no doubt be a splendid building. They are a company that will not stake their reputation by doing cheap work with hefty budget constraints. Building giant, multipurpose stadiums may have been the thing in the 70s and 80s, but this is not the case today. Unless you can build a stadium right, you don't build one. Aside from the Tampa Bay disaster, there hasn't really been a bad stadium built in the US in the last 12 years (the worst is probably Miller park, which is still not bad). If you have any doubt on this, consider how good of a job they did on the XCEL.

Posted on July 2, 2007 at 2:53 PM by Adam Highlight this comment 10

who cares

Posted on April 10, 2011 at 8:02 PM by bulldog Highlight this comment 11

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

Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3046 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.

There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow! (I loved this place as a kid.)

A new restaurant going in at Fifth Street and Second Avenue

The Target Center rooftop patio. Hardly glamorous, but a great view of the ballpark.

Even today, throw a fastball to that guy at your own risk.

Ye Olde Tyme Vegetable Cart (and its modern cousin)

A spectacular golden hour

Here's another look at the Oliva 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.

Red is old Yankee Stadium. This diagram comes from

This is the trapezoid (for lack of a better name) in right center. Be sure to notice section of seats just below the pavilion and above the fence (which I hadn't noticed before). For those who are interested, what looks like an old-style scoreboard is in fact a high-def video board which will look, at times, like an old-fashioned scoreboard.

The process of building the canopy is really amazing to watch.

Ballpark elevation viewed from the promenade (HERC plant) side. (Click to enlarge.)

A desolate Marquette Ave

"Hey, Ma, it says here we go in at gate 34. Must be all the way around on the other side!" Seriously, though, this is a really inspired idea.

A little ground's crew action in the first inning the other night.

Gate 29 "Carew" is at right.

Miller Park: Gymnasium with skylight (Source: RP)

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.

Today's match-up (click to enlarge)

What has been actually built so far is only a tiny subset of this vision.

Remember the pitch heard throughout Twins Territory? What an amazing day that was, April 12, 2010. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)

WCCO-TV building

Quote wall

Thanks for all the hard work out there, Cold Safety-Line Dudes. (I'm glad that my job does not require safety lines...)

The same section seen from Target Center. Yep, looks like bridge supports.

Photo by Tyler Wycoff

The storage tunnel is barely visible at left behind that guy.

Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)

The HERC side, viewed from Fifth Street.

This is very early in the day.

Final pieces arrive

Click to enlarge greatly. See yourself?


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

Complete Bibliography

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