Let the "stick it to Rick" epilogue to this stadium debate begin (wait, I see that it's already underway). I'm ready. I've got it coming.
But I feel about as bad as a weatherman who forecast rain and got sun. As I've said many times before, predicting stadium politics is a lot like meteorology: you will be wrong on a regular basis.
So here I am, wrong, and still with a fair amount of consolation. That's because I'm among the celebrators that A) the Vikes are locked up for the foreseeable future, and B) the whole ugly mess is behind us (almost). My property taxes will probably go down (they'd better), and at least I won't be paying for this stadium -- at least not directly -- probably.
I think it was clear in my previous post that I would have voted against this plan only because I thought a much better one was available. And I predicted its demise over and over because, at pretty much every step of the way, I thought this scheme had so many liabilities that it would have large blocks of legislators lining up to eagerly vote against it. To me, it was a waste of precious time.
Nope. I was wrong.
But what we've just witnessed was the impossible made possible. All the stars aligned just right -- and not by accident. No, this was done through the skills and determination of a very small band of legislators, who somehow managed to overcome incredible odds and even brought more than enough of their cohorts along. You have to appreciate and applaud the abilities of anyone who could thread this particularly tiny needle, and I come away mightily impressed by Sen. Julie Rosen, who appears to have provided the fuel on which this happened.
Not expecting someone like her to grit her teeth and do what had to be done was perhaps my chief mistake.
But I also underestimated the role of fear in this decision. Though clear eyes could see that the odds of the Vikings leaving any time soon were infinitesimal, neither legislators nor their noisy constituents always see with clear eyes. They can be easily spooked. And deliberative bodies tend to amplify fears. (I don't think this represents speaking out of turn. Many, many speeches, especially in the House, revealed that plain old fear of losing the Vikings was the primary motivation among those who supported the plan.) I discounted these things, thinking that there were cooler heads holding the reins.
Boing. I got it wrong.
I also erroneously thought that this process would be informed by its two immediate predecessors. I consider that the funding and siting of both TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field represent triumphs of the legislative process and of urban planning. They are models for how a very messy process can come out with exceptionally positive results. That cannot be said for this plan in either siting or funding. (It will take a decade or more to find out whether I'm wrong in believing that the Metrodome site is a truly lousy place to put a new stadium. The verdict on the funding may come sooner. I'm sure that, if I'm wrong again, you'll tell me.)
I forgot that, when it comes right down to it, each stadium debate is its own unique animal. The players are all different, the economic conditions are all different, the levels and quality of desperation are all different. And just like so many other things in life, past performance is not indicative of future results.
Some of you thought that I was hopeful that this plan would fail. And to a degree, I was. I think a major opportunity has been missed by not leveraging the large investments already made on the other side of downtown. I say this as a citizen of Minneapolis, and not as a sports fan or politics-watcher or failed stadium prognosticator. We could have, and should have, done better.
But this is not the first such opportunity missed, nor will it be the last. And it certainly isn't fatal to the future of downtown Minneapolis. Here's hoping that the same can ultimately be said about the near-billion dollars (when financing costs are considered) that the city has now committed to -- well, soon is likely to commit to -- spending.
In fact, I'm very curious to see what the Vikings can do with a billion dollars. Can they build the best stadium in the NFL? Will they? Can they build a great team to play in it? Will they?
I sincerely hope so on all counts.
And though you may think this hypocritical, I mean it sincerely: Skol Vikings!
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Looking from the doorway to the south, across Seventh Street
Steps going up at Gate 29/Carew
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
7:32 PM Glare begins at about the left field foul pole.
The moat walkway viewed from across the park.
Clyde Doeppner proudly displays colored bricks he scavenged from the Met during its demolition. These are the colors in question!
At lower left are the seats I'm not going to use any time soon.
The view from the upper concourse.
The shade of the canopy gives way to a brief shaft of light. It would do the same again a short while later when the sun passed through that tiny open sliver between the View and Terrace levels.
Bag checking at Ball Park Lanes was incredibly simple, as was the pick up later. The line was short and fast-moving.
TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)
Storage tracks in the foreground.
Harmon is visible (barely) at the very center of the crowd.
The entry from the platform to the ballpark.
The heretofore unseen north facade (click to enlarge). Does it look like a ballpark? And what's with the bamboo?
One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:
This is the Suite Level. There are multiple suites between each pillar, and there will be seating on the area in front of the suites which currently looks like it could be a walkway.
Looking from the middle of the third base side back toward the entry door
Section 139, Row 8
That's Tony Oliva checking out ballpark construction from the roof of Target Center.
Final Metrodome baseball sight
Clyde Doepner's Met Stadium Memorabilia (Source: LP)
More flowers, more pennants.
From an earlier visit: Don't bother with those escalators either. They were also roped off. And how about a bench? Or a planter? Or even a trash can? That woman is doing the only thing she can: leaning up against a post to do her texting.
The connection from the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue. You can now see where the little grassy area and franchise history board will be (the triangular area in the foreground).
A closer look at the bridge and walls. You can see where the tracks will be laid.
Work on the pavilion in center.
The entrances are all the way around on the other side.
Dancing for the cameras
You can finally see how the plaza will meet the street on the north side of this emergency exit tower (which will be converted to a regular entrance/exit)