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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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Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3044 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.


The entry from the platform to the ballpark.






From the roof of the Minnekahda building (courtesy Bruce Lambrecht).



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



Some of your fellow BPMers at a game in May of 2010 (we had almost the whole section)



Saturday afternoon, KMSP-HD 720P



Looking up Fifth, with LRT tracks and B ramp at left






Finished product (Field Terrace)









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



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Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)



The admin building (note TF logo on banner)



Photo by Jared Wieseler



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The top of a warehouse visible beyond a parking ramp.






Sign installer dude






The glorious Gate 34






The sculpture on which millions of kids will one day pose.









The stunning curtains, which skillfully evoke the architecture, keep the atrium from getting too hot in the late afternoon sun, simultaneously hiding the HERC.



Banners on the parking ramp are a great touch. They help manage scale and turn a lemon into lemonade. On my way there today I passed the WCCO building and remembered how the Twins schedule used to be painted in giant form on the side of that building (which is no longer visible). Wouldn't that be a great thing to resurrect on the side of that ramp? A giant Twins schedule. I always thought that was cool.






Click to enlarge. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)



Click to enlarge



Champion's Club details (click to enlarge)



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.)






The HERC side, viewed from Fifth Street.



This would be a beautiful streetscape if there were ANY people.






Looking the other direction, again from Ford Centre, you can see what's going on over the tracks. This will be a public promenade.






"Hey, Ma, it says here we go in at gate 34. Must be all the way around on the other side!" Seriously, though, this is a really inspired idea.






This will be a great sight on game nights.



B ramp improvements are finally becoming usable. The doors lead to the plaza beneath the skyway steps.


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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