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Crickets

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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A peek through a tiny gate.



One of the many supports being built over the tracks.



Detail enclosing the main ticket window area



The rough outlines of our urban trench. (North is up.)



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...



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Love the LC!



The gate has grown a row of sponsorship






Don Swanson, left, in-coming commander of the Richfield American Legion, and Joe Kennedy, right, out-going commander, are pictured with the Legion's new flag pole, which once stood at old Metropolitan Stadium. (Click to enlarge.)









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This is the area above the pro shop, with some new support structure









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Memorabilia on display in the Metropolitan Club



Footings for the Seventh Street walkway from the A ramp.



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Some baseball legends (and Ron Coomer)



I still counted 11 flag poles...



An ice cream salad cone -- er, Walk-a-Taco



Open concourses do mean that you can glimpse the field no matter where you are, but not really the game.



A skyway-level view down Seventh Street.






Daylight (pre-game)



Stairs and escalator down to the platform





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