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First Dirt

May 21, 2007 10:07 PM

Ah, the first cut is the kindest.

First dirt

Yes, they took a backhoe and dug a hole in the asphalt today, and thus began construction on the Twins ballpark.

It's not really much of a hole, and it's perfectly square, which seems a little odd since everything must go. But I'm sure there's a purpose.

This area had been specially marked. I'm just guessing, but it may have something to do with concerns about high mercury levels in the soil.

Elsewhere, Third Avenue was permanently closed and demolition of the former Rapid Park entrance was completed. Though some reports have said that removal of Third Avenue will be the first thing, the chain link gate at Seventh Street makes it look more like this will become a route for machinery in and out of the site.

Be sure to take a look at the updated site status page and panorama page. I've added some photos and documented each step of the way so far. I can't predict how often I'll be able to get down there for new pictures, but then again it may be hard to stay away!

Ballpark first dirt

Several TV news reports today showed video of dirt being moved, though I'm at a bit of a loss to know just what this was. Some dirt piles have appeared to the north of the Fifth Street bridge. Maybe this is what they were showing. I don't as yet know why these are there.

I did notice a couple of new things while walking around there today. For one, the freeway and side streets (at least during rush hour) are very busy and very noisy. How much of this will filter into the ballpark is hard to say, but not many people are going to want their outdoor baseball experience marred by the constant din of 18-wheelers.

One possibility to avoid the issue altogether would be to completely cover the freeway with the plaza. Perhaps this is an impractical change at this point, but don't be surprised if it comes up a few years down the road. I have to believe the current bridge and plaza are being designed with that possibility in mind. If not, they should be.

Nuts on Clark

Nuts on Clark (a couple blocks north of Wrigley Field)

Walking along Seventh Street with all the traffic feels something like a "take your life in your hands" proposition. The cars move quickly and there are no barriers -- physical or otherwise -- between car and pedestrian. This is a pretty big problem throughout downtown, and certainly around the Metrodome, what with the multi-lane, high-speed, one-way freeways which now dominate.

It's really time for the city to reconsider this model. Some experts think that bringing back two-way traffic and street parking does not increase congestion, and makes a city much more walkable. It is considered a "traffic calming" strategy. Either way, the fact is that traffic has the potential to degrade your experience while walking to the ballpark, just like almost everywhere else in downtown. (It should be noted that the ballpark site plans, a portion of which is seen below, show a row of trees on the plaza side of Seventh which will separate pedestrians on the plaza from the traffic. Great idea, but it may not be enough.)

It doesn't help that your walk will take you mostly past a bunch of gigantic parking structures. Another factor which improves walkability is the presence of interesting or inviting storefronts. The warehouse district has charm, of course, but the actual ballpark site is not really anywhere near most of it. I've said it before, Wrigleyville this ain't.

7th Street Diagram

There is potential, however, and an opportunity for the city to step up with some creativity. Between the sidewalk on Seventh Street and the aforementioned parking ramp is a 50-foot by 200-foot open area which, with some imagination and negotiation, could be converted to game-day retail space. That's really what Seventh Street needs.

I'm thinking of souvenir shops, ice cream stores, hot dog places, etc. If you've ever walked around Wrigleyville, you know that one of its charms is the availability of all sorts of niche stores (and bars, of course). For example, if you've never been to Nuts on Clark, seek it out before a game. You can take your nuts into the bleachers (so to speak), and you won't regret it. (Be sure to buy extra to share with the people you are destined to meet around you.)

Walking around the so-called "Twinsville" neighborhood can be a little depressing at this point. There are a few places to eat, but they look pretty fancy (not really ballpark food). There are a few bars, but not exactly right there. Target Center has been an utter failure at developing an exciting neighborhood.

And, man, is Target Center ugly. It just sits there like a gigantic, fraying ottoman. And its connections to the street are really unfortunate. Its focus seems to be skyway access, and this works for winter sports. But that is a killer in the summer. The Sixth Street facade is especially unfortunate. Architecturally, Target Center just doesn't seem to care about anything beyond its own walls.

Sixth Street

The view down Sixth Street toward the ballpark site. A pedestrian bridge will extend this street right into the main entrance of the park. The regrettable facade of Target Center is on the left. Butler Square is on the right. Click on the image to see what it looked like on this very spot about 100 years ago.

Of greater concern may be the proximity of the Sharing and Caring Hands complex to the west. Though they provide an indispensable service to the city's poor and homeless, that comes with some security issues for a building which intends to be open to pedestrian traffic at all times. As much as I hate to say it, I've had to curtail my photography from that corner of the site because it just doesn't feel safe sometimes.

First Dirt

You may remember that it was exactly one year ago that the Legislature passed the bill which approved the ballpark. (This isn't really a coincidence since the Constitution mandates that the session ends on a specific day, and nothing much gets done over there until this set-in-stone deadline approaches.)

By the looks of that hole in the ground you may think that not much has happened in the intervening 365 days, but you would be wrong.

The effort which has taken place outside of the public eye to keep this project on schedule (and to make sure that it actually happens) has been positively herculean. Everyone involved deserves a hearty round of applause for getting to this moment.

Comments


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Excellent as always. Thanks. I intend to go down tomorrow to check out the site.

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 12:18 PM by Freealonzo Highlight this comment 1

awesome site, ive been looking for a site like this and stumbled into yours. i live in monticello and have wanted to document the building of this myself, but as we know monticello is a little north..... good work

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 4:20 PM by derek Highlight this comment 2

I absolutely love this site. It fuels my obsession. Keep up the good work

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 4:41 PM by Don T Highlight this comment 3

Rick, you just went through a litany of negatives about the site which seems a reversal to your previous posts. So which is it?

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 6:58 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 4

"Target Center has been an utter failure at developing an exciting neighborhood."

The area just north of the Target Center near 1st Ave is always busy on Friday & Saturday nights. It's no Sunset Strip, but it's still a lot of fun to bar hop or check out random clubs around the area, which really isn't a far walk from the Rapid Park site. I would argue that the area is actually exciting, and I recommend you go there on a weekend night. Some of the hottest women in the Twin Cities party in the neighborhood close to Target Center & the new Twins park. This will be very similar to the Gaslamp District by Padres Park in San Diego.

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 8:23 PM by mark Highlight this comment 5

i see tons of twins fans in the warehouse district after games. imagine what it will be like when the stadium is on the same side of town!

Posted on May 23, 2007 at 12:11 PM by mike Highlight this comment 6

Nice job Rick. I enjoy the updates. I agree, they should cover the freeway with plaza. Seems close enough in to be a hazard for homeruns hit that way. Someone should do a time-lapse from the top of the parking ramp. It would be cool to watch it built!

Posted on May 24, 2007 at 12:07 AM by Paul Highlight this comment 7

Any chance for someone to put a webcam of the site up so we can always be checking the status?? I feel like the parking garages or the Ford Center seem like perfect spots to hang a camera

Posted on May 24, 2007 at 09:49 AM by Ryan Highlight this comment 8

Rick,

I love the site, keep up the good work. It'll be interesting to see this site progress over the years. My friend and I took pictures at the site in April...should make for a good remember when. We were suppose to play catch on the site, somehow we forgot to do that.

Your friends @ www.playingforoctober.com

Posted on May 24, 2007 at 12:27 PM by hotsauce Highlight this comment 9

Thanks for the updated pics. A few weeks ago I was complaining about the Multi-Foods tower being an eyesore, well I just got back from a trip to Detroit and let me tell you, the Multi-Foods tower would be a welcome addition to that skyline view from the ballpark. Its amazing how dirty that downtown is and how poor the skyline looks from the ballpark. On the plus side, it was 76 degrees and sunny when the game started. I guess I'd rather look at the Detroit skyline then the roof of the Dome.

Posted on May 24, 2007 at 2:31 PM by IowaWigman Highlight this comment 10

Rick, this is a great site. First time here, coming over to check it out from Shane's Greet Machine. I will be a regular now on both. I would also argue that Target Center has created a cool neighborhood. While a better job could have been done blending it into the surroundings, First Avenue is a great street for walking and hopping to bars and restaurants, Block E has its positives despite the negatives, and I only think it will get better with a new ballpark. Target Center was privately funded and the overall concerns was more about getting a team playing than melding with the surrounding area. I also like Target Center for the parking aspect. If you want, you can jump right off the highway before the game and right back on afterward. Granted, this may kill some of the local businesses, but it is a neat setup.

Derek (Chaska, not the one above from Monticello)

Posted on May 25, 2007 at 2:41 PM by Derek Highlight this comment 11

Rick,

RE: sound on 394. I think I read someplace that they designed the plazas along 6th and 7th to cover as much of 394 as possible, while they could still be considered as 'bridges' by MNDOT. If they were to cover more, they'd fall in the 'tunnel' category and require far more mechanical systems for ventilation, egress, etc.

Furthermore, I think the fact that the lanes nearest to the ballpark will be covered by something (IIRC) and the whole freeway will be sunken into a hole much more than it is now will help with the sound issues.

I love the idea of a liner retail along the 7th street facade of the parking ramp. Realistically, however, I think it might be a while before we see that. Considering the cost of building an inhabitable structure over the freeway like that might make it cost-prohibitive. Also, if something was to be developed above the Twins' suite parking lot to the south of the site using the air rights, we'd get a more continuous ribbon of active street uses along 7th, wrapping around the Target Center until you get to First Ave/Block E.

Posted on May 26, 2007 at 1:16 PM by Alex Highlight this comment 12

About a third of the asphalt has been removed between 5th and 7th.

Posted on May 27, 2007 at 11:44 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 13

Interesting article....posted in my name....click it to view

Posted on May 30, 2007 at 10:57 AM by MOJO Highlight this comment 14

Rick,

Right now downtown in the TCF center there is a display set up for the new twins stadium. In the display there are additional drawings, pictures and plastic models set up.

Here is a portion of the advertising article from the downtown journal....

"ARCHITECTURAL EXHIBITION: A preview of Downtown’s changing skyline is on display this week at the TCF Bank Atrium, located at 8th Street and 2nd Avenue South.

The display will include a 6-foot model of the new Twins ballpark.

The free “Places and People Building Community” event is hosted by Peter Bruce, a consultant on pedestrian traffic. He will provide walking times from the ballpark to area developments, as well as pedestrian counts at sidewalk cafés, Peavey Plaza and the Hennepin County Government Center plaza.

Additional projects on display will include the Zenith condo and hotel project and the TCF Bank University of Minnesota stadium.

An opening reception on Wednesday, May 30 at noon will feature talks by Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin and Todd Klingel, the president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

On June 5 at noon, Hennepin County’s deputy coordinator for the ballpark project will give a close-up tour of the new ballpark architectural model.

The exhibits are on display May 30–June 6, running 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. on May 30, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. on June 6, and 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m. on all other exhibit days."

Posted on May 31, 2007 at 1:33 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 15

Great site. I work on the 45th floor of the Multifoods (now called 33 S. 6th St.) building (several divisions within the Twins organization are moving in on the floor above me), and I've been snapping a picture of the site from basically the same vantage point about once a week for the past month. Let me know if you want me to share those "time elapse photos". Look forward to more updates.

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 10:22 AM by Paul Highlight this comment 16

Hey Twins fans, just read that Pohlad's United Properties are interested in purchasing the Ford Centre across from the new ballpark site.

The Twins could get development & parking rights on a three acre parcel of land southwest of the ballpark and across from the Ford Centre.

They would build a surface parking lot on the parcel for the team with the chance to develop & lease the parcel for $10,000 annually, which also includes any new potential development above the parking lot.

I hope that Pohlad/United Properties get the land and start turning the immediate area around the ballpark site into an exciting area. As most of you already know, there really isn't anything right by the Rapid Park site. (not counting anything east of 1st Ave.)

Of course the stadium haters won't want the Twins to purchase this property, but it's a heck of lot better than the Metrodome situation where Star Tribune owns all of the parking and hasn't developed anything to supplement that area.

Speaking of haters & Star Tribune, did anyone read that column by Nick Coleman about a month ago? He said he didn't think the new design was much better than the dome. It's true that HOK is notorious for pushing the upper deck levels far back from the playing field in order to make room for luxury boxes and club levels, but seriously Coleman, do you really believe that the new park isn't going to be superior in every way compared to the giant inflatible toilet? What a douche.

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 1:07 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 17

Lafferty Daniel (or Daniel Lafferty?),

It's not a stretch for most folks to point out some ways the new park will be inferior to the Dome -- you just highlighted one of them yourself (worse location of affordable seats). Drastically reduced seating capacity and higher ticket prices are two more off the top of my head.

Say what you will about Mr. Coleman's stadium rants, but on this point alone, the man isn't a douche.

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 3:08 PM by spycake Highlight this comment 18

From Sid's column today: "Plans are in place for a skyway to connect Target Center to the new Twins stadium, meaning the ballpark will be connected with the rest of the downtown skyways."

-Where will this connect??

Anyone been to the exhibit referenced above?!? We'd love to hear any new news if there is anything

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 4:43 PM by Twinkies Highlight this comment 19

I call em' like I see em.' You are right tough cakespy, most folks can point out some ways the new park will be inferior to the dome. Here are some examples.

Dome - Giant milk carton in right field.

New Park - Gaps and Fissures. How boring, if I wanted science I'd go hang out with Bunson Honeydew.

Dome - Field Turf

New Park - Grass. The clubhouse laundry room will have to invest in spot remover for those stubborn stains.

Dome - Awesome roof that protects the weak from the weather.

New Park - UV rays and cancer.

Dome - Delicious food.

New Park - Food that even the Brits won't eat.

Dome - Monster Truck rally's sponsored by Skoal.

New Park - Pogs tournaments during days off & Siamese Fighting Fish bouts in the offseason.

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 5:00 PM by Lafferty Daniel Highlight this comment 20

The models and renderings exhibit in the TCF bank atrium contains the same renderings that have already been released to the public. They also had the outfield section model that we've seen already. The only items regarding the new park I hadn't seen were a small concept model section of the homeplate area and a rendering of the 5th street exterior and light rail station.

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 7:11 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 21


This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.



"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.

















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









If you are into shade, there are lots of opportunities. This is from the last row in section 108 -- scoreboard not blocked in the least.



Workers against green



No arches. No brick. No girders. Classic.






A slightly different angle, and you can see some of the structural elements.



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



Detail at Gate 6



I meant to include this shot the other day. It's the new LRT bridge being built next to the remaining half of the Fifth Street bridge. The new half is almost TWICE the width of the portion torn down. And the other end runs right into a HERC administration building! (Click to see the view from nearly the same spot about 85 years ago.)



Boston









Today's match-up (click to enlarge)









Met Stadium on May 17, 1975 (Twins vs. Brewers featuring Hank Aaron)






The lights went on, and it was a Good Thing



The view from our seats. I took this picture while standing, and the railing would prove mildly problematic when I sat down -- but not as much as my scorecard, which I always seemed to be holding right in Vic's view of the plate (she told me so).



At left, across the tracks by that pile of dirt is where the Northstar commuter train platform will be built, and where Twins fans will apparently NOT be able to get a train after night games. (For reference, that's the Fifth Street bridge, with the ballpark site just beyond it. The east corner of Ford Centre is just visible at the right edge of the picture.)






Mussina's first pitch. (Playing 3rd: Not A-Rod)



Gate 29 Carew









A detailed crowd shot. Click to enlarge greatly.



Target Headquarters









A very unique space



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



Click to enlarge.



We took refuge for a time in the Twins Pub where you can drink a beer (or just hang out) and listen to some ballpark tunes. The organ is decorated with a TC (of course) and what looked like drawings which Sue has received from kids.






OK, it doesn't really look like that at all...



Party deck



Opening Day 2008 (By Currier & Ives)


















You can get a hand-carved sandwich, or ice cream while pondering the career of Julio Becquer.


>





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

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First Edition (1992)
 


Second Edition (2006)
 


(2008)
 

Selected Bibliography - Surveys
 


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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)
 


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Combines the previous two titles
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Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
 


(1992)
 


Book and six ballpark miniatures
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Complete Bibliography

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