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Concepts and Measurements

June 1, 2007 10:14 PM

Concept model : Home plate entrance

This is the entrance behind home plate (not visible in the renderings which have been released). It shows that the upper deck is set back from the facade -- a very good thing if it remains in the final design.

The new photos I took of the site today don't show very much. There has been some digging and some hauling. Test holes have been dug to check for high levels of mercury. The sand volleyball courts are gone (but their light poles remain). It looks like parking has now been banished all the way to Fifth Street.

The dirt phase is going to last a while. Sometime in August they are supposed to start driving piles. As those piles go in, we will start to see the shape of the park. But for most of the summer, we'll be looking at not much more than dirt.

Unless, that is, you head on up to the TCF atrium (located on Marquette Avenue between Eighth and Ninth). There you will find a display of some urban planning concepts, including the original concept model for the ballpark. I'm sure that the whole display is quite interesting, but I could only find a 15-minute parking meter and had to focus my attention solely on the ballpark displays.

(An aside: Parking meters in downtown Minneapolis are very maddening. Most have either a 15-minute limit or a two-hour limit, something I simply cannot comprehend. You can't do anything in 15 minutes, and if you're going to be somewhere for two hours, you should find a parking ramp. Parking meters are for short term parking and if I ran the city every single meter in downtown would have a 30-minute limit. No exceptions. Red bags over meters would be banished, as would curb-side commercial loading zones for any building which has its own loading dock -- as almost every major building does. OK, end of mini-rant.)

Photographs of this concept model have been seen before in the Star Tribune and right here. And it does not accurately represent the design as it stands now. But it gives the general idea, and seeing it does answer some questions. Here are some photos I took in my mad dash this afternoon.

Model overview

An overview of the model display.


Northstar connection

This shows the area where the Northstar platform connects with the ballpark (that translucent oval). Above that is the area which will house the Twins operations offices.


West facade

A glimpse of the rather plain west facade (the side which faces the HERC plant).


North facade

The heretofore unseen north facade (click to enlarge). Does it look like a ballpark? And what's with the bamboo?

Included in the display is one additional rendering of the park as viewed from the north across Fifth Street. The light rail station is visible, as is some additional detail for the facade. (I suspect that this drawing was withheld because it shows Fifth Street as a one-way, which it isn't now, and apparently will not be.)

But when I look at this new drawing, it still seems to be missing some sort of signature architectural element. Is it living in the past to think that ballparks need tall light towers? If not towers for lights, they at least need something which soars up into the sky for dramatic purposes. After all, we go there to watch things fly into the sky and come down again. This building is at least in part about the sky and needs something vertical to make the connection.

Others have encouraged me to give the canopy a chance, and I will. In fact, I think it's a very cool idea, and really looks great. But it's a horizontal barrier between the park and the sky, not a connection to it. I'm not suggesting that they change it, other than to add something tall. Really tall and distinctive. And dramatic. And it doesn't have to be functional.

The glass-enclosed lobby areas (I'm not sure what else to call them) sure do look dramatic. And I didn't fully understand that they are multi-story. The one in this image is three stories tall. They will be quite impressive. They also make a clever way of connecting the ballpark to its neighborhood. Let's hope there's something interesting out there to look at.

Which brings me to another piece of non-news which hit today: The Pohlads are interested in buying Ford Centre.

I can't say this is a surprise, nor do I feel like there's anything inappropriate about it. It's an amazing building inside (except the elevators can be maddeningly slow). It seems only natural that more office space will be needed, and that's the perfect place to put it.

My guess is that the upper floors may get glimpses of the field, but probably not the whole thing. Still, a party deck on top of the building would be very cool.

Picking on Nick

Metrodome overlaid

The green is a composite of the topmost seating areas in the new ballpark. The gray is a scale diagram of the Metrodome.

In the comments for my previous post, someone mentioned a recent column by Nick Coleman in the Strib. While I am not qualified to comment on Coleman's cleansing capabilities or overall freshness, it seemed important to check into one of his criticisms of the ballpark project. Namely, he wasn't sure that the cheap seats in the new park would be any better than the cheap seats in the Metrodome.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it looks like almost every seat will be better in the new park than in the Dome, though it's unlikely any seat will be as cheap as the worst seats in the Dome. Is the net an improvement? Probably, but we don't quite have enough information to know for sure.

To check this, I superimposed a scale drawing of the Metrodome over the scale drawings of the new park. Then, with the help of Google Earth, I did a little measuring. Unfortunately, I can't find the height measurements for the Dome (though I was able to estimate heights for the new park), so all of the measurements which follow are just horizontal distances.

In the Dome, the worst seat (somewhere in section 204 -- I'm pretty sure it's the seat I was in for the 2004 playoffs) is 566 feet from home plate. In the new park, the most distant seat in the upper deck in left field will be 447 feet from the plate -- an improvement of 119 feet. You may remember that, back at Met Stadium, Harmon Killebrew once hit a home run that went 530 feet. In the new park, that would easily clear the upper deck in left.

Behind the plate, at the Dome the last row is 204 feet from the plate, while the new park is 212 feet. That is an increase of a mere eight feet, though the vertical element is still to be calculated.

I guess my point is that it's clear that there probably won't be any really bad seats in the new park. In fact, it's hard to find any section that doesn't look like a great place from which to see a game. That's a testament to the size of the site, but also the creativity of the architectural team.

On this point, I think Coleman got it wrong.

For this little project and some of my other research, I've created a bunch of graphic overlays in Google Earth, mostly fitting the scale drawings onto the site. If I get time, I'll post all of these so you can do some checking for yourself.

Next

Another subject which has come up in the comments is about the quality of the ballpark location now that we've had a year to live with it. I've been working on a long post on this matter (hence a few days of silence), which I hope to post early next week.

Comments


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While elated over getting SOME kind of deal done in this backwards state, I really wanted the park to be on the river. I spent a weekend at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, which is right on the Ohio River, and was blown away by both the stadium and the view. Some true forward thinking would have found a spot on the river. Do we really need all of those ugly old grain elevators?

Posted on June 2, 2007 at 09:09 AM by Bradley Bolin Highlight this comment 1

Thank you for a terrific website.

There is a great opportunity adjacent to the ballpark: convert the top level of Ramp B (located just beyond what will be right field of the new ballpark) into a beautiful new park for fans and the general public. Here are the benefits:
* A large green space that can function as a gathering spot for fans on game days, perhaps featuring live music, food, games, family picnic areas, even a mini-ballfield for the kids.
* A tremendous panoramic view of the ballpark, plaza and surrounding buildings, including the downtown skyline.
* An aesthetic improvement to an area that really needs it.
* A showcase for the city's promotion of green roofs and its environmental benefits.
* Park space in a downtown that really needs it.

The recently completed Gold Medal Park next to the Guthrie along the river is a model for how this can happen. That spot was ugly surface parking. William McGuire and his wife donated the money to not only build the park, but maintain it for 10 years. It was such a good idea that I've heard the McGuires have started a separate foundation to develop other park spaces.

I've already promoted this idea with the Twins, but given that it's a city owned ramp, city officials will need to push it. Up until now it's been the county and the Twins, along with approval from the legislature and governor, who have done virtually all the heavy lifting for this project. The city has an opportunity here to at last provide some real contribution.

Posted on June 2, 2007 at 11:47 AM by Chris Highlight this comment 2

Rick,

Fabulous update.

Just spoke with a friend of mine who is a real estate insider in the North Loop, and he confirmed that Pohlad indeed did purchase the Ford Centre last week. Schaefer Richardson, who owned the building, hasn't been doing very well financially - so it made sense for them to sell to Carl for the cash. The source also confirmed that the Twins have begun work to move their offices to the building.

Another thing - Nick Coleman needs to be held in check over at the Strib. His last two articles on the new park have been filled with inaccurate assumptions as well as repeated insults to the organization. He's obviously never been to a game at AT&T Park (which the Twins' design likens to). The seating, vantage points, food, and ambiance far exceeds any Dome experience.

Keep up the great work.

Posted on June 2, 2007 at 8:53 PM by Jeff Highlight this comment 3

I love this site and finally have something to contribute in a comment. My company picked up the fee for this month's Minneapolis chamber breakfast, during which Dave St. Peter led a presentation on all the design elements of the new park. According to Dave, the Twins are working with the architects to include another section of outfield seats in left field. He said based on the current design, this ballpark would have the second lowest number of outfield seats in the majors, with only Wrigley Field having fewer. As was mentioned on this site, that outfield corner is currently designated for team offices and I believe a restaurant, but I can confirm that we will have a new design to talk about some time very soon. Needless to say, this is good news for all of "Upper General Metrodomers" like myself.

Also, I too agree that this stadium still needs that one last wow factor. With that in mind I was about to ask Dave and the other presenter (I forgot his name)if they were still considering any elements that would really make this stadium really stand out, but they cut off the questions just before I had the chance. For the purpose of starting a dialogue, what ideas do people have?

PS: Great parking ramp park idea Chris. My apartment window looks out onto those massive lifeless structures, and any improvement would be good for the city.

Posted on June 3, 2007 at 10:31 PM by John Kasper Highlight this comment 4

Although I've never attended a game there, I personally find Great American Ballpark among the most bland and "cookie-cutter" of the new parks. It appears very cheap and has an erector set look to it. It's on the river, yes, but they've already enclosed a lot of what view there was by adding restaurants and other amenities with new construction. I prefer having the park closer to the core of the city and the entertainment district.

Posted on June 4, 2007 at 09:29 AM by Tim Highlight this comment 5

Great job, keep it up! I really liked hearing the information on the distance to the last seat in LF, if indeed there is a chance ot hit home runs "out of the stadium" is such a cool feature (Fenway Park) and will help to distinguish this park from others.

One idea I submitted was to incorporate the roof of the section in left-center field (they look like club seats) that is right under the scoreboard and use that has a roof top standing room only section, beer garden, or bleacher seats. The views would be awesome and be yet another attribute of this park to make it stand out.

Posted on June 4, 2007 at 10:34 AM by Matt Highlight this comment 6

I thought anybody who is interested in the new ballpark would certainly be interested in very nice nostalgic profile of ld Metropilitan Stadium. Grab a klennex. Click on my name for the link.

Posted on June 4, 2007 at 6:56 PM by John Highlight this comment 7

It was nice meeting you today Rick....thanks again for the great website!

Posted on June 5, 2007 at 1:23 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 8

This design is really growing on me. I can't wait to sit in the left field bleachers. I just wish that the rest of the upper deck seats were more like left field. Have a good one Twins fans.

Posted on June 5, 2007 at 7:10 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 9

Hey, Mojo! Great to meet you, too. Sorry I had to run off so quickly today, but my parking meter was expiring! Drop me a line anytime (email address in link).

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 12:22 AM by Rick 10

So, was anything new revealed at the ballpark presentation?

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 12:29 AM by Tim Highlight this comment 11

From the Pioneer Press:

"Twins owner Carl Pohlad and his family have virtually no interest in the club's new ballpark being named Pohlad Field. There has been speculation it could be called Wheaties Field, with General Mills as a corporate sponsor, and that makes sense, but the Twins don't anticipate any serious consideration for a ballpark name until late this year."

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 10:04 AM by R Highlight this comment 12

"There has been speculation it could be called Wheaties Field."

A.K.A. the 'Cereal Bowl.'

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 11:56 AM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 13

I'd much rather have Land O' Laked Field... AKA 'The Tub'

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 12:48 PM by Dan Highlight this comment 14

Agreed, although I doubt Land O' Lakes will win the bidding war.

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 12:54 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 15

I think part of Coleman's point (and the general criticism of seat quality) is that a few thousand cheap seats are being lopped off compared to the Dome. According to your posted overlay, we will be completely losing the best sections of general admission cheap seats in RF and the whole left field upper deck (which is far away, but the sight lines aren fine). Plus, the next-cheapest tier of seats, the reserved seating in the LF lower deck and the top deck around the infield are both significantly smaller, and the ones around the infield are pushed back quiet a bit (and will be almost certainly higher up). And what will really be a kick in the pants is the almost 30% reduction in total seats for playoff or other high-demand games (and even a ~16% reduction from the standard curtain-down Dome capacity).

That said, excellent work on the site. Although as a RF cheap seat regular I'm somewhat dreading the arrival of the new park, the process is certainly fascinating.

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 3:07 PM by spycake Highlight this comment 16

Spycake,

I talked to Dave St. Peter yesterday (still working on the detailed post), but he feels your pain. The main changes they have made since the concept model and drawings were released is to add outfield seats. The left field pavilion will be expanded by at lease one full section toward center, and he's looking for ways to get even more seats in out there.

Of course, the laws of supply and demand will be in full force, so keeping the capacity down is in the team's best interest...

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 3:23 PM by Rick 17

Does anybody know what the exterior of the new park will look like from ground level up to the main concouse level? You cannot tell from the latest model or from the renderings. Thanks-TD

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 3:47 PM by Tom D. Highlight this comment 18

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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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.





One of the many supports being built over the tracks.



Photo by Tyler Wycoff



At the other end of the bridge, the configuration of the tracks has become clear.



The right field overhang is in place, and the first base stands are starting to go in.









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



The east wall of the building looks like it will be the first part completed. These are probably supports for the plaza, and they hug the very edge of the site.



After the rain. (We were in the wrong spot to see the rainbow...)






Quote wall






Click to see the full-size image.



Plaza signage






Branding on the plaza






Some people will go to work here every day.



This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.



A recent view of the Bud deck in progress






The pink thing is a mascot. (Actually, with a damn fine mascot actor underneath.)






Double plays will be turned here.















The splendid view from the roof of the Minikahda building. (Click to enlarge greatly.)



Signature elements. (And they wonder why we think the real trees look so small...)



Door to the visitor's clubhouse.






One thing that the design disguises nicely is that the Pro Shop (and other key components) are actually built over lanes of freeway. That can clearly be seen here.









Ballpark elevation diagram, viewed from Fifth Street. (Click to enlarge.)



Hit gap, win suit!






A closer look at the bridge and walls. You can see where the tracks will be laid.



One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:



Champion's Club details (click to enlarge)









That's Noah and my brother, Chris, checking out the Loge Box amenities



With the engine behind us, we got a real sense of how fast we were going by looking out the front (back) window



The first passengers are about to arrive, but the switch is set for the wrong track (those guys walked all the way out to correct it)











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

Selected Bibliography - Analysis
 


(1993)
 


First Edition (1992)
 


Second Edition (2006)
 


(2008)
 

Selected Bibliography - Surveys
 


(1975)
 


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)
 


(2002, small coffee table)
 


(2003, medium coffee table)
 


(2004, very large coffee table)
 


(2006, very large coffee table)
 


Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
 

Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
 


(1992)
 


Book and six ballpark miniatures
(2004)
 

Complete Bibliography

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