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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.

Center field camera - St. Louis

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.)

Center field camera - Arizona


Center field camera - Boston


Center field camera - Florida


Center field camera - Philly


Center field camera - Toronto


Center field camera - Washington


Center field camera - Yankees

Yankee Stadium

Center field camera - Cleveland


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.

Current site plan

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.

Stay tuned.

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.

Northstar Doings

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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Agreed 100% on the straight on camera angle. Much easier to identify the strike zone.

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 02:20 AM by ace Highlight this comment 1

I agree. I like the straight camera angle also for the clearer view of the strike zone. I noticed in the model pictures Rick took from TwinsFest that there is a platform in center that I assume is for the camera. It appears to be offset to the left field side. Too bad. Maybe it just wasn't high enough to go straight away.

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 07:46 AM by AP Highlight this comment 2

if it's more straight on i can then yell at the tv less (or maybe more) for the strike and ball calls

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 08:48 AM by annoying customer Highlight this comment 3

Great point Rick...I was watching the Cubs/Cards game yesterday too and def noticed the straight-on cam because of the double advertising signs on both sides of the batter. Great idea to compare the other telecasts.

Hopefully DSP is still checking this blog or maybe you could reach out to your contacts at the Twins (have they taken you on as a consultant yet?!? they definitely should!) and make sure they have thought of this. I agree that it makes much more of a difference than some teams have thought of when designing the parks. Click my name for a picture (of yours) from your model discussion awhile back - I assume that small platform is for the cameras...right? Looks like its shaded to left. Hopefully they inch that baby a little closer to straight away. If you think about it, its a small price to pay to use up just a few seats in straight center for all the viewers watching on tv. I also hope that they set up cameras for the sweeping panoramas that you mentioned...those really make a big difference in setting the scene.

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 12:39 PM by Excited Highlight this comment 4

I like the straight-on view better as well, but I DO NOT WANT THE BEAUTIFUL LIMESTONE BACKSTOP COVERED BY ADVERTISING ON BOTH SIDES! This would ruin one of the main features of how people watching on television will recognize our ballpark.

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 4:42 PM by Tom Highlight this comment 5

Tom makes a great point. The limestone is beautiful and EXPENSIVE. It also has the potential to create some interesting wild pitch bounces.

It would be a terrible shame if it became invisible...

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 5:26 PM by Rick 6

I'm watching the ESPN Sunday night game right now...also at Busch Stadium, and now the camera is way to the left, looking some of the other views compared above. Does it just depend on the telecast (Fox vs. ESPN vs. others)?? Maybe the stadium set-up doesn't matter much.

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 7:15 PM by Excited Highlight this comment 7

maybe i'm just stubborn, but i don't like the overhead direct-view camera shots. it's too video game for me. i like angle they used to employ (like during the '87 world series). man, even alan anderson and les straker looked imposing with that overly low camera angle!

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 7:54 PM by yeahklye Highlight this comment 8

The camera angle depends on the broadcaster just like Excited was wondering. I actually prefer the slight angle. The view from over the pitcher's head seems too high to me. Also, the camera from behind home plate in Washington's new stadium is the target of numerous complaints because it's too high. Hopefully the new place will have something similar to the one used now at the Dome.

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 10:26 PM by ML Highlight this comment 9

You know, it didn't occur to me that different broadcast outfits would be able to place their cameras differently. I assumed that there were a specific number of locations built into the ballpark, and that all crews who came to town would have basically the same options to choose from.

Clearly, I need to do a little bit more research on how this all works.

And I will!

Posted on May 4, 2008 at 11:17 PM by Rick 10

Hello so I might be able to help a little with this part on your blog Rick. I work the broadcasts to start and for the (Center field camera) that is talked. While it does depend on which show i.e. FSN ESPN or FOX. ESPN has a thing called Pitch Tracker and its easy for them and the program to show the pitch’s from an upper deck died center field shot then a side view shot. Now if you remember in the earlier days of the twins the one centerfield camera was just above the outfield wall and now it is up 30 or so feet. Its to give the viewer some depth of field and when there is a runner at second and your not blocked as he takes his lead towards third.

As for ML the reason I have heard that WASHINGTONS (High Home camera/Game camera) is so high. It’s actually on the roof. When they built it they didn't plan on Camera placement for every spot and so it’s high very high. My understanding is that give it a year and it will be at a more normal spot.

Rick its mainly the same crew that works all the shows. Be it is the Home Show ie FSN/MY29 and then the Visit show which is who ever we play so there always two TV trucks doing the games. So when they come its mainly like this Center field, Tight Center field, High home, Low Third (in the twins dugout), High First and low first(in the visit dugout). That would be a basic show to cover a simply MLB game. Other places to put cameras are High Third down the left and right field lines in the outfield and then those small cameras you see in basketball above the HOOP are called ROBO's. They are places in the dugouts for coach shots. Then a Low home like 15 feet up in the netting, and then down the left or right field line in the infield. Also there was talk like an inside dugout or like near the on deck circle and the dome has one spot there but at many newer places there is a spot on the home and visit sides.

So with that all said you might be wondering how many cameras FSNN has to show the viewers. It is my understanding but 9 to 14 depending Feeds they would get from the visit truck. I hope this gives you some understanding into the TV side of things and Rick thank you for all the work you do. I look forward to checking your page out the week to week to see comments and updates.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 01:37 AM by T Highlight this comment 11

T, thanks for the info. I was wondering why it was so high. Do you have any idea if there's any plan at this point to add more cameras to the setup at the new stadium? I don't know if that can even be known at this point. I've always liked the mid height camera which was at a height and angle that would allow the viewer to see just over the shoulders of the ump/catcher allowing a view of the entire plate as the pitch crosses. Someone used to use it (might still, just don't recall who). Is FSN Prime Ticket the only FSN who has exclusive use of the lipstick camera buried in front of the mound and home plate at Dodgers Stadium? I love those views when I catch the Dodgers on MLB EI.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 02:05 AM by ML Highlight this comment 12

Anyone else remember ESPN's 'Dead Center,' where they tried to brand this camera angle? See link - they pushed it in 2001, but it obviously didn't catch on.

I'll ask the obvious question: Why not have both? I kind of prefer the more traditional angle for regular viewing, but having the high center angle for replays is nice. You can see more inside-outside movement from center, but not nearly as much high-low break in pitches.

Also, the lower angle of the traditional setup makes you feel like you're watching the game as a 2nd base ump. The high center angle makes you feel like you're sitting in the outfield bleachers. That's a cool effect, but that negates many of the advantages that watching on TV offers. Seems to me that's why it never fully took off.

Still, it's a nice angle to have.

It's also worth noting that you'll not only have cameras for TV crews, but you'll have cameras for the scoreboard as well. I'd imagine they could share feeds on certain angles.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 09:12 AM by Alex B. Highlight this comment 13

ML - I think you're thinking of something like the Cubs old "Southwest Plane View" camera (sponsored by Southwest Airlines), that was mounted on the roof of Wrigley, and looked straight down on home plate over the ump and catchers shoulders... It was discontinued, if I remember correctly, when WGN went Hi-Def, and they put in one of those cameras 15 ft. up in the screen instead.

Alex B - I think one of the main problems with the "ESPN Dead Center" camera was that it couldn't work at all the parks in MLB. Think of, just as an example, PNC Park, where there is no place for a camera that high-up in center-field (click for image).


Posted on May 5, 2008 at 10:35 AM by Moose97 Highlight this comment 14

Another camera angle to consider: notice in pretty much all broadcast footage from Yankee Stadium from the renovation in '76 through sometime in the '80s, the centerfield camera was positioned on the right-field side. I don't recall seeing any other stadium where the centerfield camera was on the right field side instead of the left field side of dead center.

I've always wondered why Yankee Stadium had this different position. Not that it's necessarily better, but it was distinct.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 11:32 AM by hofflalu Highlight this comment 15

I have been interested in the connection to street level for the plaza for some time now. I couldn't find any talk of it in the model or designs. I have been watching closely as they are building it. I hope it doesn't become a bottle neck for accessing the warehouse district. Nothing worse than being stuck in foot traffic after the game trying make it the bars. The concourse in the dome now is the worst after the game.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 1:33 PM by Andy Highlight this comment 16

Does anyone know who the new Stadium is going to be named after, or what major Twin Cities Corporation will buy the naming rights?

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 2:03 PM by JO Highlight this comment 17

Jo - check out some of Rick's prior pieces on this site. There are a few of them that talk about naming rights. It is all speculation at this point.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 2:51 PM by IowaWigman Highlight this comment 18

reagarding restaurants, why don't they extend the plaza completely over I394 and then build on that?

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 3:47 PM by yeahklye Highlight this comment 19


I believe they covered up as much of 394 as they could while still having the structure fall into the category of a 'bridge.' More coverage and it would become a tunnel, which means much more extensive ventilation and evacuation systems - thus the price rises greatly.

All things considered, it's a decent compromise.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 3:57 PM by Alex B. Highlight this comment 20

Anyone know what is on top of the plaza right now? It looks like there's a lot of long wire or cord or something laid on top of the plaza and the new rebar being placed down on the right side of the plaza. Any ideas what it is? It looks too long to be rebar but I have absolutely no clue.

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 5:17 PM by ML Highlight this comment 21

hofflalu - Interesting point about Yankee Stadium. I'm no expert like "T", but maybe it has to do with the fact that the left-center power ally was something like 454 feet in the late 70's! Considering the crummy video of that era, they probably wanted to place the camera as close as possible, so they set on the right field side instead...?

Posted on May 5, 2008 at 10:29 PM by The Crippler Highlight this comment 22

The right field angle that the Yankees used was pretty neat. How come teams don't do this?

Kind of random, but the Turkey Hill logo in the Philly screenshot looks very similar to the Land O' Lakes logo.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 12:24 AM by Lafferty Highlight this comment 23

I was walking in the skyway today and stumbled on an advertisement for the new stadium. the ad also included a new picture that I had not seen. It was a very clear blown up picture of the stadium. I did notice the seats in ALL (left and right field) outfield sections had bench (with backs) style seating. The picture looked like something you would see on a huge HD tv.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 1:48 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 24


Can you scan/upload/link? Thanks!

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 1:56 PM by Rick 25

I saw the image in the skyway as well, Garage B area I believe. It is certainly a new image and provides the most "real world" image yet to date. Very detailed, including the open concourses and scale of people in the center field party area.

A great image to get on this site.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 2:18 PM by Matt Highlight this comment 26

You guys are killing me... It's like telling a kid there's free candy at a store that's 100 miles away.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 2:31 PM by J2K Highlight this comment 27

I'm touring the construction site tomorrow. I'll try to find the ad and get a photo on my way there...

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 2:36 PM by Rick 28

I'm not sure I'm a big fan of bench style seating. I'm not very big so if I'm sitting next to a fat person I'm only getting 3/4 of my seat for the price of one. Bench seating is a mess.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 3:00 PM by Robert Highlight this comment 29

I agree with Robert. What is so cool about bench seating anyway? I would prefer an arm rest to lean on rather than a strangers leg.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 3:30 PM by J2K Highlight this comment 30

My short answer would be that bench seating only really is a (minor) inconvenience when the place is sold out. The rest of the time, the less restriction is great -- especially for families.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 3:46 PM by Rick 31

Robert, That's why they call them bleacher seats. Be thankful they have back rest on them. I like the bleach seat idea. That's all they have at Saints games, and I've never heard anyone complain.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 4:30 PM by JohnF Highlight this comment 32


Directions to the advertisement:

Take skyway through Target Center to the T in the skyway facing ballpark.

Take a right (north), towards 6th, 5th St, etc.

You should see some advertisement signs (backlit). I believe one of them is advertising for Hamline MBA or something similar. They are before you get to the elevator bank I believe.

Grab some photos.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 4:56 PM by Matt Highlight this comment 33

I agree with J2K, we need to see this photo ASAP.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 5:34 PM by Kyle Highlight this comment 34

Robert and J2K,

Sitting on a bleacher skin to skin with someone gorgeous is also a benefit to bleacher seating....The glass can also be half full too.

What I wish was for the bleachers to be wood and not metal. The wood bleachers at the Met were very comfy when the weather was extrememe. You didn't stick to them and sizzle in the heat and you didn't freeze your ass off either.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 5:52 PM by kevin in az Highlight this comment 35

As for the advertisement...Ummmm...Does anybody work at the Twins marketing department??? Why on earth aren't these new renderings posted on their website???? DSP if you're reading, would you please address this with the appropriate person and maybe update your blog too. Thanks.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 5:55 PM by kevin in az Highlight this comment 36

as far as bleacher seating goes...that is what seat cushion night is for! First 10,000 fans will receive a free seat cushion courtesy of Dairy Queen...(or whomever it may be)

We can also have rain poncho night, umbrella night, and of course, we can have FIREWORKS night too! Hopefully some additional promotions as well, especially for the fans ages 18+

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 6:16 PM by Luke H. Highlight this comment 37

kevin in az has a great point -- something I've experienced first hand at places like Wrigley and Midway.

Bleachers seem to encourage interaction with people around you a little more. I think that's because it's easier to turn and sit sideways to talk to someone behind you.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 6:22 PM by Rick 38

Rick, The pictures I saw sound different than the photos Matt saw. If you would like to compare images...the one I saw was just outside of the main Ameriprise building on 3rd ave and 7th st. If you are in the Ameriprise building (skyway level) and pretend like you are coming out of the Ameriprise turnstyles, take a right and head through the skyway to the next building. They are the first ads on the left side right when you pass through the tunnel. Also, the ads have brochures attached to them and in the brochure there are about 4-5 new pictures and the ad I saw only had one picture....I would guess, by the sounds of it, they have the pictures scattered around the skyway on ad boards. Unfortunately, I am out of town for the rest of the week otherwise I would go on a mission and take pictures of all of them for the site. Good luck Rick!

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 6:44 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 39

i'm glad we may be getting some actual bleacher seats.

i would hope the twins would just update their website soon and post these new photos so we can all see them.

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 7:14 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 40

Yeah, seriously.

They need a better PR department when it comes to promoting the stadium. It would get people excited and help them sell tickets.

I feel like its shrouded in mystery. I mean, we have to go on a friggin scavenger hunt to find updated renderings!

Posted on May 6, 2008 at 7:32 PM by mike Highlight this comment 41

I saw an updated rendering yesterday on my way from Target HQ to the YMCA on the skyway level. The benches were kind of hard to make out in left field, but you could definitely tell what they were.

As for the marketing, I think they are doing a decent job. They advertise in the Star Trib, they have advertisements in the skyways, spots on the radio, and they mention it during home games. With it being two years out, I think they are doing an admirable job. I think most of use on this site just have a constant hunger for new pics and construction updates and will never be completely satisfied.

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 09:21 AM by IowaWigman Highlight this comment 42

just walked over to get some shots of the progress and the new rendering. they have pamphlets with a few renderings that you can take attached to the advertisements. I don't think the rendering is that new though, because the hotel on the 1st baseline says "Meridien", and its been the Graves for a couple years now. It is a nice view though I hadn't seen before. I also noticed that it looks like they're starting to build the Northstar Commuter Station. Also I grabbed some shots of the 6th street "funnel" and the workers laying the mystery gray tubes you can see on the webcam.

i thought i could post them on minnescraper, but it looks like i have to wait for an account. anyone have suggestions who wants to see them faster?

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 10:03 AM by mplsgreg Highlight this comment 43


Email them to me (rick at this domain) and I'll get them posted.

I'm also headed down there today.

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 10:18 AM by Rick 44

They are pouring the Home Dugout floor as we speak!

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 10:20 AM by More Stadiums - Less Schools! Highlight this comment 45

lafferty wrote: "Kind of random, but the Turkey Hill logo in the Philly screenshot looks very similar to the Land O' Lakes logo."

i was thinking the same thing the other day when i saw it on tv. i knew i wasn't the only crazy person out there.

land o' lakes should talk to them about copyright/logo infringement perhaps......

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 10:47 AM by Betaband Highlight this comment 46

I actually don't like that high centered camera angle if it were to be the main game camera. If ESPN uses it for replays to show a pitch if it hit the strike zone, that's one thing. But for a time during 2005 and 2006, they used it as the main game camera when pitches are thrown to the hitter and I think it is too high (biggest case was St. Louis at the old AND new Busch Stadium). Even ESPN's games at the Metrodome with that camera I didn't like it at all. Nationals games at RFK Stadium with the camera positioned on the upper deck above centerfield was BAD... I like the main game camera as close to center as possible but just to the left where you can clearly see the left-handed hitter without the pitcher obstructing the view, but at mid-height... the best ones among those pictured are Philadelphia and Washington. The Yankees is very slightly little higher, but excellent. Even that specific one for Toronto is good, as long as it's that one and not their camera view a row or two lower. San Diego's is just about the ideal location as well. Even the Twins' one is fine... the thing is, I am quite picky with the main game cameras, especially those for hockey games. They're off center, I hate it. If too low, I hate it. Among the worst... Montreal and up until a few years or so ago, the Mets (both just above the outfield wall... very bad!), San Francisco (just above the wall until last year), Pittsburgh (build a platform behind that green centerfield wall, please)... hopefully the Twins make their main game camera put in the exact same position as it is now at the Metrodome (height and just off to the left of center) OR as it is in Philadelphia or San Diego. That's my hopeful preference the Twins decide on. Same for the Mets and Yankees.

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 7:56 PM by Paul Highlight this comment 47

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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.

That's Tony Oliva checking out ballpark construction from the roof of Target Center.

Dugout Box and Champion's Club sections are sequestered by separate moats

Showing more of the context for the louvers.

Not me, but it might as well be.

1885 Sanborn Map Image (Source: Sanborn Map Collection, Minneapolis Public Library, Copyright © 2001 by The Sanborn Map Company, Sanborn Library, LLC)

Saturday afternoon, KMSP-HD 720P

Harmon is visible (barely) at the very center of the crowd.

Gate 3 ticket window

Looking from First Avenue toward the ballpark (over the top of a construction barricade)

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

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Condiments! (complete with faux limestone on the cart -- nice touch)

The lone light standard and one of those "entry beacons."

Rooftop scaffolding, for the wind veil installation?

Loading dock -- already in use!

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There must be millions of details needing tending

Of the players up there, only Bert does not have a gate with his number (28) on it at Target Field. You know, there is that door underneath the skywalk on Seventh Street between gates 14 and 29...

Champion's Club details (click to enlarge)

Ballpark elevation viewed from Seventh Street. (Click to enlarge.)

August 2001 (a month later we were engaged)

The admin building (note TF logo on banner)

Imagine this!

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TF: template-based?

Harmon Killebrew


BPM - Ballpark Magic

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FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

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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

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Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
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