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March 8, 2007 2:04 AM

It's been vewy, vewy qwiet out there... That could be a good thing. That could be a bad thing. There's just no way to tell. Mike Kaszuba reports in the Strib today that granting air rights for a condo tower may become the key to a negotiating breakthrough.

The real good news implied by his report is that conversations are clearly taking place. Talking is the best first step you can make. Plus, talking privately -- and not in front of cameras -- has much greater potential for making progress.

So, assuming a deal can be struck someday (not yet a safe assumption by any means), one thing is certain: any ballpark built on the Rapid Park site will be surrounded by high-rise condos. I can't say for sure, but this has the potential to be a truly unique feature of the ballpark.

Ballparks seem to be built in one of two conditions: isolated or integrated. Miller Park is isolated (surrounded by parking lots and freeways, essentially built in an industrial area), while Wrigley Field is integrated (with people living across the street one direction and going to restaurants the other direction).

There are actually two types of integration: commercial and residential. Jacobs Field and Comerica Park are integrated to a degree with their surroundings, but only with commercial activities. Nobody lives nearby. Camden Yards is only semi-integrated (despite its reputation) because there are big psychological barriers surrounding it (parking lots and a major roadway separate it from most everything else, including residences). The Metrodome is about as isolated as such facilities get.

But putting up a bunch of high-rise condos where people can live and watch games from their balconies takes residential integration to a new -- and very exciting -- level. Somehow, I like the idea of having big buildings standing poised for the next pitch. This assumes, of course, that they will be architecturally sympathetic (not a guarantee).

Since the park (if built there) will be as urban as they come, why not capitalize on that and make it a substantial part of the character of the neighborhood? That kind of vitality is contagious. If they can make sure that the first floors of those buildings are commercial, all the better. It could be the birth of a great new neighborhood.

Plus, that's the kind of place I want to retire to!

UPDATE: The Pioneer Press also weighs in today on the subject. They're reporting on a statement made by Pogin in 2001 that $10 million was a good value for the land. He says that info is irrelevant to today's market, but the county says, "Vewy intewesting."

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Supposedly a sticking point is the possibility of someone being able to see the game without paying. I'm wondering if the Twins and Hines could hammer out an agreement that the condo's couldn't construct rooftop bleachers (e.g. Wrigglyville), however if someone or a small group (less than 8) could see a game from a balcony or bedroom window, no big deal.

Posted on March 8, 2007 at 3:47 PM by DEC Highlight this comment 1

Thanks for this positive look at the air rights/parking ramp idea, Rick. I personally didn't know what to think of the idea (a condo on top of a parking ramp? how is that a good thing?) but your write up actually makes it sound perfectly OK, maybe even exciting. In fact, I hope to retire there now too!

Posted on March 9, 2007 at 2:31 PM by Shane Highlight this comment 2


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Such promise. (Click to enlarge.)






Dancing for the cameras



North Loop Deli









The knothole (sans view of anything interesting)



Legends Club seats feature in-seat service



Note that the sign in the background will NOT be changed because "Twins Way" doesn't extend this far north.






The canopy as viewed through the outfield stands. The lighting approach, despite what you may have heard, is actually very traditional.



This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.






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From the roof of the Minnekahda building (courtesy Bruce Lambrecht).






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I had to hold the camera as far over my head as I could to get this shot, in which the infield is finally visible. It's a spot made for your average Timberwolves player.



Staging for the next section (Home Plate Box)






Boston



This is the start of construction on the Northstar platform which will feed under the bridge and to a lobby with escalators and elevators just inside the ballpark's public concourse. Compared to the ballpark construction, this looks kind of puny. But the work just to get the trains to come has been positively Herculean. Future generations will look back at this with awe.






Seventh inning sing-along.



They could not help the Twins on this night.



Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond






Legends Club fireplace (there are two)






This was on BPM night. Nice neon, but I'm still waiting to see the homer show.






...but you can get a feel for what it will be like.









I love this view of the Basilica.



Suite level view



Thome steps in.



Seals Stadium






Roll-up metal doors visible at right.






A mural featuring the names of a bunch of Minnesota towns.



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You won't see much sky from these seats, but you'll always be warm



(Click to enlarge.)



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



At one point, we thought these windows might represent one of the so-called knotholes. But nope. Nothing to see here. (Nearest I can tell, there will be no view of the playing field whatsoever from the Seventh Street sidewalk.)


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BPM - Ballpark Magic

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HPB - Home Plate Box

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MOA - Mall of America

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