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A Tantalizing First Glimpse

December 7, 2006 1:26 AM

First Ballpark Concept Model

Photo by Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

As reported today in the Star Tribune, an early concept model of the ballpark was presented to the Hennepin County Board yesterday. As expected, it bears little resemblance to any of the concept drawings we've seen so far -- but that is the exciting part!

I'm working on getting some more detailed pictures for you all to see. In the meantime, we must make do with the tantalizing glimpses the Strib gave.

I noticed several things right away that were all very positive.

First, the sun screen over the main grandstand has a very distinctive -- and symmetrical -- shape. When your team is called The Twins, symmetrical is a very good thing. It also has something of a classic look without being the least bit retro. That makes this one design concept a winner right from the start.

Killebrew's mammoth shot on June 3, 1967 is currently memorialized on a wall at the Mall of America

Second, the homerun porch out in left is double-decked, and bears more than a passing resemblance to the left field pavilion back at Met Stadium. In fact, one can even imagine installing a red seat up there where a 500-foot homer (like the one Killebrew hit) might land. That it evokes the Met is a great thing -- even if it wasn't intended. And while I generally don't think upper deck seating in the outfield is a good thing, I can imagine that these would be some really great cheap seats (meaning that's probably where you'll find me and my friends). And because they face southwest, we'll be soaking up a lot of sun!

Finally, the outfield wall appears to grow gradually in height from left to right. It's hard to tell from the photo whether this growth is stepped or gradual, but it certainly offers an opportunity. If the wall were to grow gradually, it would be the only one of its kind in the majors. The rare ball which hits off the top of such a fence could do all kinds of crazy things, adding a little bit of unpredictability to what will clearly be a hitter's paradise.

Outfield detail

Another look at the outfield stands (Photo by Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune)

The dimensions of the playing field have apparently been established at: 339-377-404-370-328. This compares to the Metrodome's 343-385-408-367-327. Obviously, a tall baggie-esque fence out in right might be expected, but the report says that the fences "generally will be 8 feet high, rising to 14 feet in right field."

Two additional photos show close-ups of the outfield stands and the transit corner of the exterior. They show the potential for a very dynamic and warm street presence for the park -- in direct contrast to the Metrodome's frigidness.

It's possible from one of these images to get an idea of about where the playing surface will actually be compared to where the parking lot surface is now. Dave St. Peter has said that they plan to build down a little but not very much, and the model proves that out. In fact, digging down very far isn't exactly possible because Bassett Creek runs underneath the site.

Exterior detail

The transit corner entrance (Photo by Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune)

As expected, fans will enter the park at roughly the top of the lower deck then walk down. It's unclear how the outfield seats will be accessed, or what type of circulation will be provided by the tower shown at the left field corner.

My only disappointment in looking at these images is that it appears now that the orientation of the park is set in stone, missing out on the opportunity to really feature the Minneapolis skyline. As I've written before, people sitting down the first base line will not see any of the signature skyscrapers. But I guess that will now be another benefit reserved for those of us sitting out in the cheap seats. We'll have a spectacular view! Yippee!

Of course, I'm trying to draw some details out of a model which is, by the architect's own admission, about 15% complete. Certainly there are many details still to be worked out, and much of this could change. But it's already better than the concept drawings we've seen so far.

Today I spoke with Dan Kenney, executive director of the Ballpark Authority, about the new model. He and the Authority members are on their way to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh this week to tour the ballparks there. He commented that part of this trip is to seek out the elements which make up real ballparks versus some other places (notably those with roofs and gigantic parking lots) which really must be seen as something else entirely. He wasn't being disrespectful, but merely acknowledging that the limits of this new park's location are really fantastic opportunities to create a baseball experience akin to that which people had in the early parks. That's not a generic entertainment experience that he's talking about, but a real baseball experience. Little things like this, which I've now witnessed many times, make me believe that this process has it's heart in the right place.

I feel a genuine mixture of excitement and relief. Nothing here screams out "retro" (which is a Very Good Thing) and yet there is already the distinct possibility that we could be witnessing the birth of that very rare animal: the New Classic Urban Ballpark.

Comments


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Why are they making the design quirky? What is with the PETCO Park like structure in the left field corner? Why do they make an insanely huge second deck homerun porch section. It is way too large. I think the other design style was much better.

Posted on December 7, 2006 at 10:09 AM by steve Highlight this comment 1

You know I am not sure that Basset Creek still runs through this site. It once did, but now is in a tunnel and runs to the north about a mile. It entes the Missippi about 3-5 blocks south of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge. A call to Lois Eberhart or Bob Carlson at the Minneapolis Public Works Department would clear this issue up.

Posted on December 8, 2006 at 07:30 AM by DEC Highlight this comment 2

Wow -- this is better news than I first thought. I couldn't quite see the left field upper deck in the one Strib online photo. I'd love to see more seating in the outfield, especially in RF where there appears to be just an open plaza area (nothing against such spaces, but that's valuable seating real estate, and much more preferable than sitting in the upper deck way down the baselines IMHO).

Like you, I'm excited about the opportunities of the small site, but I'm still quite worried that it will become another small, expensive park (under 40,000 seats).

Posted on December 8, 2006 at 12:21 PM by spycake Highlight this comment 3

I think the new model looks very interesting. I believe there is a lot of opportunity to develop one of the most intimate ballparks. One of the concerns I have is with the upper deck. I think it is a great idea to have cheap seats and a lot of them, but if you look at the site lines from the upper deck in left field, it looks like the view would be obstructed. People sitting in this section would not see deep balls hit to left field and a portion of center field would also be obstructed. I know that it is only 15% complete but this is something that concerns me...(because this is where I will be sitting).

Posted on December 8, 2006 at 12:31 PM by MOJO Highlight this comment 4

DEC,

Bassett Creek has two channels. One flows to the north, and the other flows right through the northeast edge of the ballpark site. (See my article for a detailed map...) -- Rick

Posted on December 9, 2006 at 12:12 PM by Rick 5

One other addendum: After writing this article, I measured using Google Earth and found out that a red seat for Harmon may be out of the question. No part of the ballpark can be 500 feet from home plate because the site is so small! 500 feet away would be somewhere in the surface parking lot to the north... -- Rick

Posted on December 9, 2006 at 12:20 PM by Rick 6

Hey! You! Comment spammers! Shoo! Get away! Nothing to see here! (And your dang ol' scripts and links and other crap won't work anymore anyway!)

Apologies to regular readers and other true baseball/ballpark/Twins fans. A software update mistakenly disabled the filtering... --Rick

Posted on December 12, 2006 at 12:19 AM by Rick 7

Rick,

Have you seen anyother pictures of the model?

Posted on December 13, 2006 at 10:59 AM by MOJO Highlight this comment 8

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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."

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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.


It's pretty easy to see right into the Twins dugout!



B ramp glimpse















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.



Cleveland



A whole bunch of guys working on something.



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












Note the speakers hanging beneath that deck



The connection from the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue. You can now see where the little grassy area and franchise history board will be (the triangular area in the foreground).



Hubert's remains the only sports bar within site of the Dome after 28 years of its existence. It's a cautionary tale.



Click to see the whole page from this 1971 program.



Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)









This would be easy to miss, but I found it on a cart located directly behind the Batter's Eye seating on the upper concourse in center field.



Two signs visible from beyond the confines of the ballpark.






Seventh Street windows









This is the view from where the plaza will connect to the walkway on the west side of Target Center. This presumably aids traffic flow back to the A ramp, and perhaps to the skyway connection (though the doors to the skyway right there are typically exit only).



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:






The glove



Break time






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



Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)



Home Plate Terrace -- really great seats; maybe my personal, budget-based favorite



You write the caption...



Here's a detail from the above image, showing the LED strips up close.



Looking down Sixth Avenue toward the plaza






Checking out the bike racks on the promenade.



Lots of pix waiting to be seen from Bert's memorable night.









Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)



(Click to enlarge.)



Since pictures of the ballpark are forbidden, perhaps you'll enjoy this shot of the lovely apple tree in my front yard.



Staging for the next section (Home Plate Box)






This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.





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)

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STH - Season Ticket Holder

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