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.
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.
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.
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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 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
A sharp-eyed reader caught me trying to make the best of a bad situation with my SP-570UZ on Sunday afternoon
Opening Day 2008 (By Currier & Ives)
Looking back toward the doorway into the club
Also viewed from the B ramp, that's the upper deck in left field.
An early concept drawing for the site
Glass going in over the Oliva gate.
Very interesting detail starting to appear here.
Visual depiction of current stadium legislation
One of the sweetest sights of the day -- the Dome, and only through passing bus windows.
It was in and then quickly out of his glove. You gotta make that play.
The spruced up triangle really doesn't show much connection with the ballpark.
Ketchup, mustard, relish, mustard, ketchup
Ballpark elevation viewed from Seventh Street. (Click to enlarge.)
The angle on the main scoreboard from the Batter's Eye is surprisingly good -- acceptable, at least.
This area will supposedly show the Twins chronology. Will it stretch back to 1901?
Not from Moose's tour, but it's an image you need to see. (Click to enlarge greatly.)
The first completed mural
(Click to enlarge greatly)
This is the last hope for so-called knot-hole views. I'm skeptical.
A view into the Legend's Club
Here's a quick look into the layout of the Metropolitan Club.
Rich Pogin (left) and Bruce Lambrecht (Source: Skyway News)
Note that, even though the scoreboard appears strategically placed, it's the outfield stands which block any potential view of the field from this roof.
Lots of folks working behind those ticket windows
Standing, standing, standing.
As mentioned earlier, one of the best climate-controlled views of construction is from the 7th floor elevator lobby in the A ramp. (That's Noah getting his first glimpse of the new ballpark.)