A Better View
May 3, 2008 11:10 PM
Here's something you probably never thought of in relation to ballpark design: Where should the camera wells go?
It came to me this afternoon as I watched Kyle Lohse give up six quick runs to the Cubs in St. Louis. I started to notice a whole bunch of different camera angles, and some very creative camera placement. In fact, I couldn't remember ever seeing a view from center field quite like the one coming from the new Busch Stadium.
As an aside, has any new ballpark opening been as underplayed as New Busch? It flew under the radar all during the political process, was constructed in the shadow of its predecessor with barely a whisper of its presence, then kind of snuck open at the beginning of the 2006 season (during which the Cards became unlikely world champs). I remember more about the destruction of the Old Busch than I do about the first few days of New Busch.
Despite generally favorable reviews, and what I'm about to say about a certain design aspect, the ballpark is really quite boring and nondescript on the TV screen. It's a shame.
But they clearly spent some time thinking about ways to improve the TV coverage. And I thought it was a marked improvement over what we typically see. I could not quite figure out exactly how many cameras there were, but I did notice that...
1. The center field camera is only a whisker off center toward left -- unlike most such cameras in the MLB.
2. The dugout cameras are on the inside (between the dugout and the plate) rather than the more typical outside placement.
3. Sweeping panoramas were almost nonexistent. If there's a camera up by the broadcast booth, I don't think I ever saw it used.
For reference, here are a few essentially random center field shots from other parks in today's games. Of these, only Fenway has a similar orientation. (The red lines just highlight the path from the rubber to the plate.)
You can see that the farther the camera is toward left field, the greater the angle. And the lower the camera, the less visible space between the pitcher and hitter. Getting the camera up and close to straight-on yields a much taller, clearer and more useful view.
The key thing to realize is that Fenway and Yankee Stadium have been retrofitted for television, while all the rest were built during the TV era. This means that conscious decisions were made in most cases about where the camera should go (rather than, say, being stuck with a bad spot because there was no alternative).
There is little doubt that conscious choices have already been made by the Twins, and there's no way to know yet which view they prefer. But, for my money, the closer you get to straight on, the better. As fans, we all watch many more games on TV than in person, so the placement of this particular camera is pretty important to the viewing experience.
In the case of the Cubs-Cards game today, I found it much easier to tell just where the catcher was setting up, and could see the strike zone much more clearly. If Lohse had ever successfully hit the black, it would have been easy to pick up. And when Yadier Molina actually set up just about as far inside on a hitter as you can get, I could tell that he was a good foot off the plate. This seems to have some value when watching a game.
An added benefit for the team -- but not necessarily for the viewer -- is that they can sell advertising on both sides of the plate.
Maybe I'm in the minority here in preferring the straight-on view. Does anyone else have a preference?
Sixth Street Connection
In discussion over the last few days, much has been speculated about the connection of the plaza to Sixth Street North (the street that runs between Target Center and Butler Square).
Dan Kenney at the Ballpark Authority was kind enough to provide me with the most recent site plan, and this comment:
The ped bridge will extend over Second Avenue, and then split in two directions. In the current plan, the portion heading up 6th Street will extend just beyond Target Center's loading dock door, and a stairway will bring pedestrians down to the existing sidewalk. This is the plan that was approved in late February and is funded to be built.
What we are working on right now is finding a way to delete that stairway and then fund the extension of the bridge along the side of Target Center, so the plaza and the existing sidewalk at the corner of 6th Street and 1st Avenue at are the same elevation.
Just how important is this connection?
Well, I spent a little bit of time in the neighborhood on Friday, and noticed that pretty much all of the life is along either Washington Avenue or First Avenue -- a minimum of two full blocks from the nearest ballpark gate. The connection to Sixth Street (and Fifth, although this one is complicated by the light rail tracks) will determine how people interact with the restaurants and bars which are closest to the park.
Will people arrive early, park in a ramp, walk up to First Ave for dinner, then walk back? Will they saunter up for dinner at the end of a day game or just get back in their cars and go home?
(Of course, there will be restaurants within the ballpark, but it's hard to really count them toward the street life of the place.)
If they get the connection to Sixth Street right, we may be able to forgive the fact that the ballpark is surrounded by parking, industrial yuk, and empty space.
I ran across this very fine piece on the start of ground-breaking ceremonies for stations along the Northstar line.
Sure would be nice if the Strib were covering this type of thing...
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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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
The glorious Gate 34
The rough outlines of our urban trench. (North is up.)
The gate has grown a row of sponsorship
Here are some less intrusive things things you can actually get at the ballpark.
Freight trains run in very close proximity (Jerry Bell was standing at my left elbow when I took this picture)
The Overlook, as seen by outfielders
This view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown and shows how the LRT tracks sort of snuggle up to the ballpark.
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.
A view into the park down Sixth Street from just beyond Hennepin. Note that one side of the street contains century-old, classic buildings -- structures which are likely to last another century or more. The other side, not so much. (Click the image to see what it looked like from exactly the same spot 97 years ago.)
(Click to enlarge)
What can you see from up there? Some say not much.
From the best seat in the house (Section 8, Row A), the right field corner is blocked. (No one may care. Fine with me. People should know.)
Lots of pix waiting to be seen from Bert's memorable night.
This is from inside the B ramp, where an entrance to the plaza will one day be
I think AP is in there somewhere...
Gate 34 Puckett
Time to paint those supports Vikings-purple.
Viewed from up Sixth Street, the tip of the canopy looks like the claw of some gigantic crustacean!
Looking across the top of the batter's eye
Photo by Jeff Ewer
Ballpark elevation diagram, viewed from Fifth Street. (Click to enlarge.)
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
Left to right: Opat, Oliva, Dave St. Peter, Melvin Tennant (Meet Minneapolis), Jerry Bell, Rybak
OK, it doesn't really look like that at all...
A last look on the way out.
The service entrance area in left-center, now with bench seating
(Click to enlarge.)
A distinct misstep, ostensibly to guard against missteps. But methinks I smell a lawyer...
Plaza seating installation
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
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