Beams connecting the plaza to the Target Center walkway
With a client downtown, I always budget to spend some time at the ballpark site just to see what's going on. Every time I think I've seen it as busy as it can get, I'm surprised yet again.
Today there were teams working in more places than I could keep track of:
- Steel beams now cross 2nd Avenue to the Target Center walkway
- The promenade over the railroad tracks now comes all the way to the sidewalk
- Cement is being poured for the circulation ramps on 7th Street
- Concrete molds are being removed all along the main concourse
- Surveyors and their gear were everywhere
- Elevator shafts of concrete block are appearing
And there are always concrete pours in progress seemingly everywhere. It's quite a sight to behold.
I wondered again today if this project is anything special to the workers. They're just doing their jobs as normal, but many more people than usual are paying attention.
Special or not, I'm sure there are unusual challenges at every turn. The ballpark seems to be oozing into every nook and cranny of the site, and when it runs up against an edge, it seems to pour right over.
The civic engineering in progress is no less monumental. I know that the team cares about how the ballpark will interface with the rest of the city, but at this point it seems like the ballpark is reaching out from its site, while the city isn't yet reaching in. C'mon, Minneapolis city government. Get with it.
A very interesting article appeared the other day. It should come as no surprise that the cooling of the economy has impacted additional development near the ballpark.
As with all things economy-related, patience is often a virtue. But I am always mindful that one of the biggest disappointments of the Metrodome was how it utterly failed to generate any development at all after it was completed.
Part of this was due to the poor parking in the neighborhood. An argument can be made that if they'd built a parking ramp or two (maybe right where that surface ramp is to the east) that undeveloped parcels nearby might not have remained as surface parking.
I think this promenade over the railroad tracks needs a name. How about the Halsey Hall Promenade? (Please do not throw cigar butts onto the tracks!)
In that respect, the new ballpark sits in a much more palatable situation.
But there is still grave risk that what is now surface parking may stay as premium surface parking indefinitely if there is no incentive to convert it to something else. This would be very unfortunate for the neighborhood. It has the potential to render the ballpark as an island (which it will be, to some extent, on opening day in 2010).
It's important, when thinking about this, to separate generic "North Loop" development from development adjacent to the stadium. If they build a condo high-rise on the old Downtown Pontiac/Jaguar site, that's in the neighborhood but a helluva long way from the park.
I'm talking about the parcels of land to the north between the park and Washington Avenue, and to the south (where the Twins own development rights). I'll even throw in the HERC site, which could be ripe for redevelopment sooner than you think.
This is where the city of Minneapolis simply must become a player.
Concrete molds are being removed!
LRT Station Issues
Looking down Sixth Avenue toward the plaza
There was some talk about the configuration of the LRT station on the Fifth Street bridge, and the problems it poses for pedestrian traffic.
This is one of the downsides of being a transportation hub. The good probably outweighs the bad here, but the bad is certainly concerning.
Anyone who has ridden the LRT to the Metrodome knows that there are places you can stand/walk and places you cannot. They are marked, and follow some common sense rules, but crowds of people don't always look at such markings or have much interest in the rules.
Transit police are there to give, ahem, helpful guidance to those who are not paying attention (that's the nicest way I can think to say it). This leads to some clogging of the walkways, and makes pedestrians wonder why they can't just walk -- well -- right there -- where there's no train -- and no train coming -- and why the hell can't I cross there?
The LRT station over at the Railyard will be configured a bit differently, but the difference may not be an improvement. The platform will be between the tracks (like it is at the final stop at First Avenue now), meaning you will get off the train and then have to walk between the tracks to one end (Hrbek Gate 14) or the other (Carew Gate 29).
Before games, this is probably OK. But after games, it could be a nightmare.
At the Metrodome now, if I ride the train, I usually plan on spending 45 minutes or so after the game waiting for a train which isn't sardine-ish. I'm not the only one. We all sit out on the plaza and watch people and wait.
At the new park, there won't be a plaza there on that side. This means that managing the flow of people to the trains could be much more complicated.
I don't have an answer here, only an issue.
This is the area above the pro shop, with some new support structure
More on Bench Seating
I received confirmation that there will be bench seating in the outfield. The current plan calls for 680 such seats in right, and 1283 in left. That's about 5% of the total seats in the park. More than this I do not yet know.
"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.
They can put a camera just about anywhere. (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
The brown grass was left over from the first attempt at groundbreaking (canceled after the 35W bridge collapse)
Franchise history before Minnesota. (Click to enlarge.)
Click to enlarge.
Gate 6 is quite large
Apparently, there will be public restrooms accessible directly from the plaza.
Seventh Street windows
Dugout Box and Champion's Club sections are sequestered by separate moats
This is the last hope for so-called knot-hole views. I'm skeptical.
Looking northeast from the ballpark site (Source: LP)
More of a bird's-eye view of the same area.
Here's the entrance from the seating bowl.
Very nice Admin glass.
B ramp at left, ballpark at right (and visible far away through the tiny crack)
Wind veil framing
This is the Carew gate covered in plastic.
Two concepts here remain in the final design. First is the oddly-shaped pavilion in center. Second is the section just above the right field fence. In the current design this section will hang over the field by a few feet. The original doesn't do that, but you can see that the concept goes way back in the planning.
An escalator was going in the day I was there.
Outside the Metropolitan Club, photos of all the other major league ballparks
Limestone still dominates the Seventh Street walkway from a pedestrian point of view. But brick take over as you move upward -- a concession to cost, no doubt.