Hello again! Real life intruded on my blogging availability for a while, but I have a large backlog of topics and a little bit of time ahead to tackle them. Please forgive my absence. Let's get to it!
Your Ballpark Authority has been busy, albeit with a bunch of issues that may seem a bit dry at first.
Top among these is something called LEED Certification. Dave St. Peter gave a brief introduction over on his blog, but there's much more to say. The Twins could really become innovators here without adding much in the way of cost or hassle to their ballpark design.
Ballark Authority members listen to the LEED introduction
The idea is that if you're going to build a big building, why not build it using sound environmental principles?
Imagine capturing rain water in a big tank beneath the park and reusing it later for irrigating the grass and flushing the toilets. This reduces both waste water into the sewers and the need to draw on fresh water. It's a no-brainer.
Imagine recycling gravel excavated from the site to build the drainage system beneath the grass. That saves on landfill costs and space, while also saving on the cost of buying new gravel.
Imagine 43,000 plastic seats, each made from 100% recycled materials.
Imagine orienting the building to maximize sunshine, then putting up solar panels to store power which is later used to turn on the lights during night games. The power savings could be huge.
Some will scoff at the notion (even if it is tongue-in-cheek), but if the Twins can make this happen, they will have the first stadium in North America to do so (only one other stadium in Europe has done this).
A quick glance at the requriements shows that the new ballpark already meets some of the big standards by virtue of A) replacing a surface parking lot, B) being very close to bus and train routes (less people will have to drive to get there), and C) planning to use excess steam from the HERC plant for heating and cooling.
So what's the catch?
That depends on who you talk to. Some will say that it adds substantial up-front costs which are not recouped for years -- if ever. Some say that it makes the project vulnerable to delays and cost overruns it might not otherwise see. Some say that ballparks are a special category of building which can't benefit as much from this type of design as, say, your average office building. These are some of the things that naysayers are currently naysaying in Washinton.
These people are all wrong. The costs are manageable. The risk of delays is no greater. The potential upside is just huge. Since this program was created, the price of green technologies has dropped substantially, and some are actually cheaper than their standard counterparts. Companies that have built buildings to this certification report using 42% less energy and 34% less water than their traditional counterparts. Those are savings which it doesn't take a microscope to measure. What's more, they report a 15% increase in employee productivity (imagine Mauer hitting .401!).
But there is till resistance, and it is motivated mostly by fear, and our biological instinct to take the bird in the hand (smaller cost savings now over bigger cost savings later). So it's heartening to hear (by way of Mr. St. Peter) that the Pohlad family is genuinely committed to building green (so to speak).
The key to making it work is to include this as a goal from the very beginning. That's where the LEED guidelines come in. They are structured to guide a project through the process from day one. This then requires the project to employ architects, engineers, and builders who are familiar with the technologies and techniques. This is easier said than done.
The Harvard Business Review ran a feature in June in which Charles Lockwood talks about many of these issues. (Read the entire article in this PDF file.) He says that the biggest barrier to building this way is simple inertia. "Team members who are unfamiliar with green will often resist any deviation from standard design principles, building materials, and construction processes. They will make mistakes on everything from the amount of insulation needed to the selection of interior components like nontoxic flooring, therefore limiting the building’s sustainability and having a negative impact on the budget."
But the bigger question is just how much the construction costs will be increased in order to meet the requirements. This is still unclear, and the stadium law passed by the Legislature stipulates that LEED certification is only required "if the Authority obtains grants sufficient to cover the increased costs."
Technically, this puts the whole thing into something of a limbo state: no grants, no LEED.
That would be a great mistake. The principles being talked about here are the types of things which will be standard design and building practices within a decade. Why not be on the cutting edge? If our ballpark is genuinely being built to last for generations (at least 2), then commitment to this type of innovative design is absolutely necessary.
The Ballpark Authority seemed genuinely committed to the idea of environmentally-friendly design, but it was clear that their greater commitment is to the budget.
I hope this doesn't lead to short-sighted decision-making.
"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.
Secret entrance exposed!
A view into the park down Sixth Street from just beyond Hennepin. Note that one side of the street contains century-old, classic buildings -- structures which are likely to last another century or more. The other side, not so much. (Click the image to see what it looked like from exactly the same spot 97 years ago.)
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.)
A cross section of the field construction. (Click to enlarge.)
If you want, you can ask those folks how the game is going -- and even get a little bit of info from the big screen (Grandstand)
Work has begun on the plaza, and the activity has started to impact I-394 traffic.
Handshakes all around (there's gonna be a lot of that over the next few weeks)
This is the HERC Premonade with railroad tracks snaking beneath. (I think this should be named the Halsey Hall Premonade. Seriously.)
The canopy as viewed through the outfield stands. The lighting approach, despite what you may have heard, is actually very traditional.
Ballpark elevation viewed from the promenade (HERC plant) side. (Click to enlarge.)
No griping here.
The Puckett Atrium
Earl Santee, principle architect for HOK Sport, presents some concepts while Mike Opat listens
Here's the field of posts which will support the third base side of the grandstand. Some walls have started to appear about where the Northstar riders will enter the park.
Just to the right, more ticket machines. These things are everywhere.
(Click to enlarge)
The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)
A close-up of the rooftop party deck.
This is the trapezoid (for lack of a better name) in right center. Be sure to notice section of seats just below the pavilion and above the fence (which I hadn't noticed before). For those who are interested, what looks like an old-style scoreboard is in fact a high-def video board which will look, at times, like an old-fashioned scoreboard.
Catwalks provide access to the View Level seats (from the Ballpark Authority July update)
Who Owns What (Click for larger version. Source: Ballpark Authority)
OK, just how many servings per container?
A cold afternoon in 323, but we had our trusty Twins blanket -- made by my mom when Noah was born.
In the top of the 9th, the sun hit our backs and summer took one last long look.