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...
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.
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...)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
"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.
The official ballpark development area
Giant screened images! (573 Club, my back to Seventh Ave windows)
July 7, 1966 (Click to see the entire scorecard with ads)
Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
Replays on the out-of-town scoreboard!
For those who have never seen it up close, that's what it looks like when steam comes out of the HERC plant.
One of those funny little sections above the entrance stairs
The right field foul pole seen against a backdrop of Butler Square (itself a site of great significance in the history of professional baseball in Minneapolis)
This is from inside the B ramp, where an entrance to the plaza will one day be
Home Run Porch Terrace
The Fifth Street side is pretty busy. There's a small street entrance to the B ramp, then ticket booths and an entrance gate, a rare exterior section not covered in limestone, the wooden screen covering the circulation ramps, the administration building, and finally (just out of view) the interface with Northstar. All of that sits behind the LRT action. How pedestrians will interact with this side of the park is a great mystery to me. You know that Metro Transit won't be letting them cross the tracks anywhere but at either end of the block...
That's Fifth Street (and a tattooed arm) in the foreground.
Which way to the skyway? Really??
Section 237, Row 15 (top of the Trap)
Another classic space in the making above the Hrbek gate.
Note the speakers hanging beneath that deck
This appears to be the floor to the home dugout!
The same section seen from Target Center. Yep, looks like bridge supports.
Yes, son, Memorial Stadium used to be right there, just beyond those gates.
The blue line now indicates where the back of the accessible seating ends and standing room begins.
This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.
The Carew lounge was all ready for some corporate event.
End of the line.
The Hennepin Grille appears to feature chicken, brats, and fries.
(Click to enlarge greatly)
This was actually taken from the top floor of the International Market Square.
Friendly faces greet you right inside the door of the Legends Club.
Looking down what was Third Avenue, and will be a freeway entrance ramp beneath the outfield stands.
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)