While smarter people are doing some serious number-crunching, all I've got to offer are a few views of Target Field, and a few notes from my brief tour last week. You won't get any smarter here, but maybe you can keep that pre-ballpark adrenalin pumping as we head into the doldrums.
(But before we get into that, you should seriously check out that link up there. For 10 bucks you can get all the information you need to understand where the Twins payroll stands heading into this off-season. I haven't read it yet -- I'm going to wait for the $17.95 hard copy version -- but I've seen some mighty cool excerpts over on the TwinsGeek site, and this can't help but be a winner. Click now!)
My trip down on this day was to check out the delivery of the old Met Stadium flag pole. But there was a lot going on.
Bronze glove delivered (awaiting installation) with Met flag pole horizontal behind the gate
Wind veil framing
Better them than me
Wind veil framing (from the inside)
Glove from above
Speakers spaced evenly among the lights
Frost on the pumpkins, snow on the plaza
Wind veil install from across Seventh
The following day, I headed down to get some footage of the pole being installed and meet up with my original flag pole contact at the Legion in Richfield, Ben McEvers. (I'll tell that whole story another day very soon -- with LOTS of pictures.)
Ben and I arrived separately, each with a guide from the Twins, and each too late to see the pole actually put up (though some of you may have seen footage of the install on various FSN broadcasts). Ben's grumpy rhetorical question summed up the disappointment, "How many pictures can you take of a damn flag pole?" (You'd be surprised, Ben.)
But we did get a walk around the main concourse, including the outfield area, and saw some sights.
Poles through the gap
Much of the signage is in place, and seems at first glance to be sufficient. All of the lettering is in Target red, a thread of branding which now runs throughout the place despite the general lack of bull's-eye logos. It's livable, but red signs over green seats does come perilously close to, um, jolly.
With seats in place throughout the seating bowl, it's obvious now that folks at the back of this level will be seated beneath the Legend's Club seats, which seem to loom surprisingly close overhead.
It's not as bad as the equivalent area at Wrigley, and I'm sure that some fans will be perfectly happy there. But I hope that STHs know just where that overhang starts, because it will block the sky and the big scoreboard for some.
We stepped into Hrbek's. The big Twins logo on the floor was covered to prevent damage during construction, but the ceiling is made up of metallic tiles, each about two feet square and containing one of the various Twins logos from throughout the years. There were so many variations that I had no hope of counting them all. It gave the place quite a saloon feel. Most welcome.
Ben took this picture of me (carrying my mostly useless camera) and Twins rep Chris Iles down by the admin building
At the admin building corner there is a spacious standing-room area which will have drink rails, and is fitted with radiant heaters above, just like the rest of the concourse. I'll admit that I'm just not sure what to think of radiant heating. I mean, I like it, but it sure is a weird ballpark amenity. Do any other MLB parks have that? (I don't know.)
We stepped to where the bullpen area is below the concourse. From the concourse side, it's not possible to see into the bullpens over the ribbon boards. This was a surprise, because I believe this had been touted as an amenity earlier.
It is possible to see into them from the bench seating in left, and also from a little portion of the concourse which juts out at the opposite end (directly beneath the Celebration sign). I know this is minutia, but I have to believe the Twins will take the upper bullpen because it clearly will have a better view and be more comfortable.
Next we threaded our way through construction materials to get a close look at the wood-backed seats in straight-away center. We also got to give them a try.
The look is amazing, and they were plenty comfortable. This little collection of seats will really be great, though I remain concerned about obstructed views in all of the outfield sections. For example, I don't think it's possible to see a play at either the center field or right field walls from any of these sections. While not untypical of ballparks, the cramped nature of things -- which is generally a very good thing -- does seem to do bad things to sightlines.
It was too brief a tour, but they always are. Ben caught me gazing over the green for a moment before turning to head out:
"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.
Solution for a hot night, just inside Gate 34 (that's a cool mist, by the way, not hot steam, which would be kind of cruel)
From the TV camera platform -- the view you'll see on TV
Good seats, but no scoreboard or sky.
A close-up of the rooftop party deck.
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.
They can put a camera just about anywhere. (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
This is the LRT path looking from the ballpark site (behind me) toward downtown. The line currently ends about two blocks up this street. This bridge over I-394 is also being partially rebuilt as part of the ballpark project.
Someone please get those poor people a drink of water. (Gate 34, after the game had started)
For those who have never seen it up close, that's what it looks like when steam comes out of the HERC plant.
Stairs down to the sidewalk from the skywalk over Seventh
The reverse angle shows that the signage will only partially obscure views from the top of the ramp. The wall is pretty high up there, so you'll need something to stand on, but it appears that this is one of the so-called "knotholes".
The right field foul pole seen against a backdrop of Butler Square (itself a site of great significance in the history of professional baseball in Minneapolis)
The lot within the lot.
Now looking north, the tracks emerge from beneath Seventh Street as freight tracks only. The Northstar line ends at the northwest corner of the ballpark. One day, however, you can bet that other passenger trains will approach from the southwest metro on these tracks -- if our legislators are smart and persistent, that is.
This is what it looked like during the first open house in March.
Life in the shadows
Plaza extension reaches toward First Avenue
Trampled, repaired, and re-trampled grass
Nathan greeting the other pitchers on the all-Metrodome team (October 4, 2009)
The renderings and concept model differ here. MOJO thinks this is the perfect place for a party deck. Dave St. Peter seemed to agree!
Bag checking at Ball Park Lanes was incredibly simple, as was the pick up later. The line was short and fast-moving.
Greatest spot in the city for cooking up some hot dogs. And would you kill for that grill?
Perhaps these very bold, Hitchcockian birds picking at left-over popcorn and peanuts were portents of what was to come.
Click to see the full-size image.
Scoreboard as viewed from Fifth Street.
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.
The entry from the platform to the ballpark.
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)