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Ramping Up

August 21, 2007 11:53 PM

Pile driving

The ballpark site is positively pounding with activity. Cranes, trailers, and construction vehicles are everywhere, and pile-driving is well underway. Elsewhere, there has also been quite a bit of activity...

Valuation

It isn't over til it's over, but the first round goes to Baseball. $23.8 million is more than anyone originally thought, but it's almost exactly what is in the project budget already for land acquisition. That means that whatever issues may arise from the increased land cost have already been considered. If it sticks, this value will be barely a ripple on the finished product.

Of course, there are the appeals. And the lawyer's fees. And who knows what other minor expenses (court costs? parking? coffee and donuts?).

We should all take a moment's pleasure in the fact that, so far, Sanity has won out over Naked Greed. There may be lots of greed to go around in this project, but Land Partners II and Hines Interests really set a new low. It's refreshing to see a strategy so boldly mean-spirited fail.

Trailer village

A trailer village has sprung up to the south.

Of course, it looks like Land Partners II did quite well for their investors. (Sound of cold wind blowing...)

Model

People keep telling me that the photos of the model-in-progress are still available on the Twins web site, but I can't find them. Supposedly you can load the ballpark renderings and then click on "View Other Galleries", but it doesn't work for me. (You may be interested to know that there are actually two home pages for the new ballpark. Click here, and then here. The second one looks very old.)

It doesn't really matter. Not much is given away in the pix, and the questions they raise will probably all be answered when the finished model is unveiled (presumably at the ground-breaking next week).

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the color shown on the model is something approaching the final color of the seats. A neutral "ballpark green" would be the safest route to take. I do stick by my wish for something more imaginative (such as mixing shades of blues and greens like Met Stadium), but that's a pretty big long shot.

Overhang detail

Much has been made of the overhang in right field. It seems like a good idea, really, as long as it doesn't get too exaggerated. To date, the design has been refreshingly free of gimmicks, and they really should work to keep it that way. If it sticks out too far, it's an artificial potential game-changer -- kinda like a speaker in fair territory. I hate those things. But a little bit of overhang, well that's not unwelcome. The ground rules there will be interesting.

Blueprints

Shane over at The Greet Machine provided me with a look at some gigantic blueprint files filled with arcane details that only an engineer could love. I've spent most of my time trying to figure out exactly what I'm looking at.

Background image

This is a background image extracted from one of the blueprint pages. It's essentially a schematic of the park (Terrace Level). In it you can see the shape of the various seating areas (to a certain extent).

It's clear, however, that a great deal of modification has taken place in the outfield seating since the first batch of concept drawings were released last spring. The restaurant which dominated the outfield is now gone, replaced mostly by seating.

Fenway center field seating

OK, it doesn't really look like that at all...

That includes a rather large, angled section in right-center which reminded me visually of the same area at Fenway. The pavilion is pictured in the model photos, but has a different shape in the blueprints. I'm trying to find a good version to post, but haven't quite got it yet.

Alas, it looks like the homage to Met Stadium out in left has disappeared. Too bad, but it may have not been intended that way in the first place. It looks like they eliminated the uppermost sections out there, and spread those seats around the outfield. It probably means better (i.e. more expensive) seating.

We can go on and on about good versus bad seating, and I'll be right there for the discussion. In the best of all possible worlds, every seat would be great and cheap. In the real world, the better the seat, the higher the ticket price. Without any bad seats, there won't be any cheap seats. Unless, that is, there is a fundamental change in the nature of business before opening day 2010.

Seven Notes From a Game

Pile driving

Pile driving in progress

I was lucky enough to score free, albeit last-minute, tickets to last Friday's game, and they ended up being in section 123 (one of the best sections in the Dome).

1) Baseball from here looks very different than it does out in the cheap seats -- something I'd forgotten since the good seats have been priced out of my range for a few years. I was struck by how much of it looks carefully choreographed and rehearsed, like improv theater.

Specifically, I noticed how Joe Mauer does the classic "catcher trot" back to the plate after talking to the pitcher, which was immediately preceded by the classic "umpire stalk" out to the mound, which followed the "manager plod" and the "shortstop stretch" and the pitcher's "nervous pacing."

Baseball is a great game, but it's also part dance.

2) Did you know that the Metrodome has two great, and very strong, wi-fi connections available? Bring your portable device (mine is a Nokia 770 Internet tablet) and you can have a box score always available.

3) Remember when Joe Nathan first appeared in a Twins uniform? He had a fluid confidence that seemed to walk ahead of him as he approached the mound, and seemed to be the source of each pitch.

Then he got all twitchy.

Well, I saw the Old Joe on the mound Friday night. In fact, there was something of a Zen quality to his demeanor, and it looked like he had a deep focus, despite the fact that it wasn't a save situation.

He looked like he could hear the sound of one hand clapping. Or maybe he just went fishing with Brad Radke. Either way, I like Zen Joe much better than, as Bat-Girl dubbed him, Twitchy McXanax.

4) During the 10th inning, I was pelted from above by a very cold wind. Then I noticed that all the banners down beyond the Twins bullpen were flapping wildly in a stiff breeze. I have no idea why, but I'm guessing they had to turn the air conditioning back on because the game was in extra innings.

But what does that do to the flight of the ball? Probably nothing, I suppose. It ultimately had no impact on the outcome of the game (you may remember that Nick Punto scored the winning run on a wild pitch). But it crossed my mind.

Discussions

Discussions in progress on some very brown grass...

5) I took my radio and listened a little bit as the game wore on. Dan Gladden, who really has blossomed with confidence behind the mic in the last year or so, had a great quote: "Everybody knows, the Twins don't run on pitch-outs."

6) I got to the game too late to buy a Gameday program, so I was stuck with the $1 official scorecard. It's actually improved a great deal over the last couple of years, but it's still only eight pages, one of which is the cover and four of which are full page ads. There are some stats but no substantive articles, certainly no match for Gameday.

Look for the Gameday vendors outside the Metrodome, on all the most highly-traveled pedestrian routes. At $2, this independent program and scorecard remains the best deal at the ballpark. Don't miss it.

7) I bought a hot dog from my seat! You can't do that very often upstairs. It was, however, a bit of a let-down. The bun on those things is so freaking huge and hard that it's just about impossible to eat. You would think that food engineers would have perfected the humble hot dog bun by now...

Thanks to all the discussion contributors! It's much appreciated.

Comments


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You have to give credit to the team for listening to some fan input. I think the elimination of the outfield restaurant in favor of more general seating was a direct result of fan suggestions.

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 09:37 AM by Tim Highlight this comment 1

Dave St Peter mentioned that the cheap seats are the seats in Right center that look similar to the Fenway seats. He said that he expected that to be the "fun" section... aka the party section....aka the cheap seats.

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 12:14 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 2

I don't understand why there is so much demand for more outfield seating? I would much rather pay a few extra dollars to sit in the upper deck right behind homeplate. After all, the best places to sit in almost every ballpark are behind homeplate, no matter how high up you are.

I'll take the $8 'Top Deck' seats behind homeplate at Dodger Stadium any day over the bleachers.

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 6:17 PM by Lafferty Highlight this comment 3

Well, like clockwork, our friends at LPII have appealed the $23.8 land ruling. Check out the Twins web site for more details. God I hope the jury decides it's really worth $8 million....

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 8:03 PM by Jeff T. Highlight this comment 4

Because bleacher seats have always had a nostalgic, everyman quality. Wrigley Field, with its prominent bleacher bench seats, has furthered this mystique. It's not always about having the best view of the game, but the place in the park where you may have the most fun.

Posted on August 22, 2007 at 8:06 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 5

I agree with Tim.

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 03:17 AM by jason Highlight this comment 6

truth be told, i think outfield seating is popular for two reasons with fans here in MN... the first, as in any city, is the prospect of catching a home run ball. the second is that minnesotans are generally a thrifty lot of people. and when people took a look at the models and saw virtually no outfield seating, fans knew what was afoot... no outfield seating = no going to the game for under $12.

there is something to be said for deciding on a lark to drop $6 for a ticket and $3 in bus fare and going to a game for less than $10.

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 11:40 AM by cj Highlight this comment 7

I hope to that they hire some new, fan friendly ushers at the new park! The ushers at the Dome act like prison guards. Let us walk around the stadium for pete's sake, and let us enter through any gate!! At the Dome you are trapped in your seat for the entire game.

I love the new parks that allow you to walk around to different vantage points and stand and watch the game.

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 3:10 PM by Jon Highlight this comment 8

I can't agree more with Jon. You won't see ushers like that at any other park. I've been to many and most ushers could care less where you sit. Every game I go to at the dome (I usually get good seats from work behind the plate)the ushers will ask to see my ticket to confirm. What a joke. I bet if I was 70 I would never get asked. The best ushers: Kansas City without a doubt. Plentiful and helpful. There is an usher there every 20 feet and they are very polite and only ask you if you need help finding your seat. Never been asked to see my ticket anywhere but the dome...

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 3:52 PM by John Highlight this comment 9

I had to comment on the ushers. The ushers at SafeCo in Seattle are the worst. Every time I am there and try and move up, they check your ticket. When I was there last time, we had seats in the 2nd to last row behind homeplate, lower level ($55 face), and in the 7th when it was clearing out, we started to go down a little closer and were stopped. We asked why we couldn't move up in the section, when we were just moving to seats with the same face value, and they said "well, then everyone would want to move up." I personally don't care if everyone moved up at the end of the game when the homers are clearing out anyway. On the other hand, I rarely have trouble moving up at the Dome after the first couple innings...

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 7:02 PM by The Rational Actor Highlight this comment 10

John, Even though those seats will not remain empty for very long during the game, the ushers in the field level seats of Wrigley Field are really bad. It's a waste of time to even try to sit in the first section of the lower deck. There's an usher for every aisle in that part of the seating area.

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 8:04 PM by John Highlight this comment 11

Rick, I'm not sure that I agree with your reading of the blueprints regarding the left field bleachers. Based on Shane's document linked in my name in this post, I think they've really reduced the LF seating that much.

Page 5 of the PDF shows the full extent of the lower level seating, while page 8 shows the full extent of the upper deck LF seating, which appears to me, at least, to coincide with the building sections that were released with the initial renderings back in the spring.

At most, it seems like the knocked a row or two off of the top of those double-decked bleachers. However, given the enlargement of the right-center 'triangle' seats (it's not really a triangle - these seats need a good nickname...) and the removal of the restaurant, I think the result is a substantial net gain of seats.

As far as seat color goes, I've got no problems with green. Fenway Green is certainly a safe choice, but that doesn't mean it's a bad choice. In fact, given the light nature of the Kasota stone they'll be using, I think it could work quite well. I'm more curious about the rest of the color scheme. Dark green will be dominant no matter what, thanks to the grass. Light Tan will also be prominent, thanks to the limestone. I'm curious what they'll do with the glass, particularly on the exterior of the park. What about exposed steel? Paint colors? Accent pieces?

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 10:08 PM by Alex B Highlight this comment 12

I totally agree with Jon and John! The ushers at the Metrodome are terrible! I don't know if it's because the Metrodome is not fan friendly or what, but the ushers are terrible. Part of the problem is the fans who lack for better terms "baseball game etiquette". Don't wait in between batters to get up and walk up the aisles, wait for the inning to be completed people! When you sit along the aisles, people get in your way continuously which is why I am sure the ushers have to hold you from coming down to your seat. That problem can be blamed on poor stadium design/sight lines and fans who lack etiquette.

As for the checking the tickets, who the heck cares which gate you enter! And why do they check your ticket at the gate AND at the section of your seats inside?

Fans should be able to walk around wherever they like before and during the game, especially throughout the concourses (but than again, the Metrodome does not have open concourses where you can stand and watch the game unlike every other ballpark). They should also let you go down to the field level BEFORE the game and walk around hte stadium if you choose. As long as you are in your proper seats during the game or are not in any other person's assigned seat, who really cares!

It's like a prison when you enter the Metrodome and I can see why they don't fill up the stadium until the 3rd and 4th innings. Hardly anyone goes there early anymore because it's so fan unfriendly. They don't even let you use the restrooms at the pavilion outside of Gate D!

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 10:09 PM by Luke Highlight this comment 13

Let's take a deep breath on the ushers. They are probably very nice people who are implementing very unfortunate policies. Those policies take advantage of one of the Dome's most maddening features: it's super easy to control who goes where.

Sitting in the family section, for example, I routinely see ushers come up and reprimand someone who merely moved across the aisle (into the Upper Club) to stretch out a bit. This is ridiculous, of course, but it's not the ushers at fault. They're just doing what they've been trained to do.

Here's hoping that calmer heads prevail at the new park. Moving to better -- unoccupied -- seats as the game progresses is a nice perk which should not be handled like a prison break.

By the way, I am among those who found out just how hard it is to sneak into the really good seats at Wrigley. We were tossed in about 10 seconds by a guy who, it turned out, had been ushering there for many decades.

Posted on August 24, 2007 at 01:26 AM by Rick 14

I posted this on Greet Machine, but thought I would post it here as well.

I came across this gem from Dan Kenney in reading about the land dispute appeal:

"He noted, however, that the project's infrastructure budget has already excluded a pedestrian bridge alongside Target Center that would have connected First Avenue to the ballpark's right-field plaza."

Now, I support the stadium, but this is a HUGE issue with me. If they knock out that pedestrian bridge, how are people going to get to the ballpark? The Twins can build the nicest ballpark in the league, but it's not going to be worth a darn unless people can get to it. This is a huge problem.

Any thoughts?

Posted on August 23, 2007 at 6:59 PM by The Rational Actor Highlight this comment 15

Alex -- Good thoughts on the overall color scheme. I have sort of an instinctive bias against any color named after someone else's ballpark (even if it is a classic). My preference is to draw on the franchise's past whenever possible, and seat color seems like a place where it would be simple and appropriate to do so.

Now, having admitted that bias, I agree that "Fenway green" is a nice color for ballpark seats, and I'm sure it will look great.

the rest of the color palette remains a mystery. Renderings all show the glass with a bluish tint, but that could just be for illustration purposes. And I know that the wood elements on the facade (covering the circulation ramps) were also just conceptual and may not make the final cut.

"Twins blue" would make a nice color for exposed steel...

Posted on August 24, 2007 at 01:33 AM by Rick 16

Rational -- This is a very distressing development! The bridge is an essential part of the ballpark's character.

I'll talk to Dan and see if I can get any more detail here.

Posted on August 24, 2007 at 01:37 AM by Rick 17

Any outside element isn't essential to the park's character. The park's character is dictated by what happens when you pass through those gates and see that green grass. I mean, met stadium was surface parking and chain link and concrete entrance ramps. Can't people, um, just walk across the street? People will get to the ballpark, it won't be surrounded by a moat of flaming lava. Some of these elements can be added as ballpark improvements are made in future years. This happens in every city where new stadiums have been constructed.

Posted on August 24, 2007 at 08:17 AM by Tim Highlight this comment 18

This is from Dan Kenny regarding the pedestrian bridge:

The answer is that the original design of the pedestrian bridge that was presented to the Legislature in 2005 and 2006 was a straight ped bridge that ran from the ballpark and terminated at 2nd Ave North near Butler Square and Target Center.

As the design team did more work and received more input it became apparent that we needed more of a plaza space and more gathering areas at 7th street as well. Also suggested at the concept design stage was extending the ped bridge beyond 2nd Avenue along the side of Target Center up to 1st Ave N.
While the scope of the desired infrastructure expanded, the $90 million cap did not.

The cost of the bridge extension is estimated at $3 million, and because of the cost it was not part of the base schematic design that was approved earlier this year by the County Board and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.

The good news is the ped bridge has been designed to accommodate an extension to 1st Avenue North and it can be built in a later stage of the project's construction.

Everyone associated with the project sees this as a high priority, and we continue to seek ways to fund this enhancement. (In addition we are seeking ways to improve connections to the ABC ramps and the existing skyways to make the facility more pedestrian and fan-friendly).

Posted on August 24, 2007 at 10:15 AM by Rick 19

Kevin in AZ, I also wonder if the lights above the scoreboard will make it difficult to see. I do like the big screen though. Hopefully the scoreboard won't be dominated by advertisements. As of now it looks sleek and tasteful.

Posted on August 24, 2007 at 12:59 PM by Lafferty Highlight this comment 20

One thing I keep forgetting to mention: Notice that in the top drawing (the one from behind home plate), they finally have the skyline view accurate.

Posted on August 26, 2007 at 9:43 PM by Rick 21

Yea I found out how bad ushers can be. I had A free ticket to a game thank the twins for that won one at the trivia game booth before the game. Used the ticket sat right field next to the big curtain got to the game early as always to try catch foul balls during batting practice and was told since I had a cheap seat I could not go down to the field. Do hope they change that with the new ballpark. Yea bench seats would be nice even a very small section of them just for us poeple who remember the good old days of watching A game from bench seats. This is all about watching A baseball game isnt it or have the powers that be forgot that. We are supposed to be here watching a baseball game maybe some tailgaiting before hand nothing more right?

Posted on October 7, 2007 at 12:00 PM by Twins fan Highlight this comment 22

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"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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.


Here is a close-up of those funny little islands of seats (HRP View).






Glare from the IDS never looked this sweet. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)















Delmon Young getting warmed up















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






The Hrbek gate is directly below. It's a lively place after a game.












Two signs visible from beyond the confines of the ballpark.



The glass area seen here is one of the warm-up areas.



The plaza as viewed from across the park. The right field overhang section will be built just in from where the plaza supports are.



The glorious Gate 34






The knothole (sans view of anything interesting)






A little higher angle shows how the two stations are close to one another but distinctly separate. The oval, glass-enclosed area is the entrance from the Northstar platform below into the ballpark. The LRT platform is comparable to the other stations along that route.






This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.






Now looking north, the tracks emerge from beneath Seventh Street as freight tracks only. The Northstar line ends at the northwest corner of the ballpark. One day, however, you can bet that other passenger trains will approach from the southwest metro on these tracks -- if our legislators are smart and persistent, that is.



Through the windows of the Metropolitan Club you can see one of the displays of Met Stadium memorabilia.









An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)









Fissure dude






Seventh inning sing-along.









Name that band. Please. (Mick Sterling)









A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).



Plaza overview from the A ramp



Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)



TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)








Glossary

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

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(2008)
 

Selected Bibliography - Surveys
 


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Second Edition (1987)
 


Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000)
 


(2000, large coffee table)
 


Original edition (2000, round)
 


Revised edition (2006, round)
 


(2001, medium coffee table)
 


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Combines the previous two titles
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Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
 


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Book and six ballpark miniatures
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Complete Bibliography

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