Two years from now there will be baseball in a former rail yard.
That puts us at just about exactly the halfway point in this little project -- that is if you don't count the half-decade or so spent on design, the decade spent wooing politicians, the two-and-a-half decades in Domeball purgatory, or the nearly five decades waiting for a decent home for the hometown nine.
Come to think of it, we're less than two years away from the end of a project which actually began in the early 1950s when powerful local businessmen made a back room decision to make Minneapolis a major league town.
For the uninitiated, Met Stadium was built for two reasons: 1) as a replacement home for the Minneapolis Millers whose decrepit (but beloved) Nicollet Park was falling down; and 2) as a lure for the New York Giants (of which the Millers were the Triple-A affiliate) who had expressed interest in relocating.
The Met was built on the cheap (and would be maintained the same way throughout its life) with the understanding that it could and would be upgraded to a major league park if and when a franchise agreed to move here.
When the Giants passed, but Calvin Griffith bit, the place was expanded -- again on the cheap. Once baseball got established here, they reasoned, they'd build a proper home.
Despite some phenomenal early baseball success, it was the other major tenant of the Met who would chart the course for future stadiums in the Twin Cities. The Vikings wanted out of the Met almost from the start, and despite springing for the gigantic (and way out of proportion for baseball) left field pavilion, they really wanted something else built just for them.
Thus, the Twins' first home in Minneapolis was a shared facility from the start -- in which they soon found themselves as the minority tenant (despite playing quite a few more games there).
The road to the Metrodome was then paved with poor maintenance and some really lousy teams.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the Met (my tribute page is very popular), but everyone knows that it was mostly made of political squabbles, broken promises, temporary bleachers, and a lot of chain-link fencing. When all is said and done, it was not a worthy home for the Twins.
The less said about the Metrodome the better.
Even Earlier Years
Before arriving in Minnesota, the franchise's history of ballparks is also homely at best. Griffith Stadium was another patchwork quilt which evolved over decades into a distinctive but hardly inspired home for the team. It's two most notable features tell much of the story:
1. The wall in center field had a crazy gigantic inward notch, the result of homeowners on the other side refusing to sell.
Griffith Stadium (notch visible in lower photo at far left)
2. The grandstand had multiple roof heights because designers of later additions couldn't be bothered to match what was already there (stories also float around about the expense associated with cutting the steel to the correct length).
Griffith Stadium's predecessor, which stood on the same spot, was of the wood variety. You can probably guess how it met its demise.
And so it is that in April of 2010, for the first time in franchise history, the Minnesota Twins will have a proper home.
It's about time.
Here We Are
That's why I started this web site two years ago. My goal was just to track the design and construction of the ballpark, mostly for my own enjoyment. I did not expect that there would be much of an audience, and thought mine would probably be just one of a bunch of similar sites.
But I'm happy to report that the popularity of this site is off the charts. It's gotten big enough that I had to arrange for a major (and expensive) upgrade this weekend to handle the volume of traffic. Just Google "new Twins ballpark" and you'll see this site there at number two (right behind the Twins official page)!
Work has even begun on translating all of the material collected here into a book once the ballpark is open! Look for it in time for Christmas, 2010.
This two years has flown by. Thanks to all who regularly stop by. You've kept the ideas flowing and the discussion lively.
Thanks also to everybody at the Twins, the Ballpark Authority, Hennepin County, and my other resources for helping me stay on top of the project.
I promised more sunny pictures. Just be aware that some of these were taken through a window in Ford Centre. It looked like the windows had been cleaned recently, but they're all still pretty cloudy due to age... (Can anybody help me get on the roof of this or the Minikahda building?)
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.
A closer look at the bridge and walls. You can see where the tracks will be laid.
At the other end of the bridge, the configuration of the tracks has become clear.
This looks up Fifth Street (LRT train visible in the distance). This bridge is also being partially rebuilt (see next photo).
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.
This is the start of construction on the Northstar platform which will feed under the bridge and to a lobby with escalators and elevators just inside the ballpark's public concourse. Compared to the ballpark construction, this looks kind of puny. But the work just to get the trains to come has been positively Herculean. Future generations will look back at this with awe.
Looking back toward the park from just beyond the north end of the Northstar platform.
Looking the other direction, again from Ford Centre, you can see what's going on over the tracks. This will be a public promenade.
Nearby, workers are finishing a support column. The guy at the bottom is using some sort of personal dirt mover (inset). Very cool.
Working on the main concourse right about directly behind the plate.
The plate marker is just to the left.
The plaza as viewed from across the park. The right field overhang section will be built just in from where the plaza supports are.
Finally, Some News
I confirmed that there will definitely be bench seating of some sort on both sides of the outfield. What this will look like and how much there will be is still to come.
"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.
At lower left are the seats I'm not going to use any time soon.
In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.
The canopy as viewed through the outfield stands. The lighting approach, despite what you may have heard, is actually very traditional.
This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.
World Series trophies on display at left
Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.
Looking back toward downtown from the end of the balcony
This looks like a Twins Pub, but is actually the scoreboard operations.
Looking for some detail
The media all turned out!
Those two empty seats in the front row are where we started the game.
A beautiful, glowing sunset after the rain.
Ready for action.
Click to see the full-size image.
Looking back toward First Avenue
An early concept for the pedestrial bridge. (Source: Ballpark Authority, RP)
Let's be honest and say that this promenade, which will face the HERC plant, won't be the most exciting part of the streetscape. It has to be provided for circulation reasons, but there won't be much to see unless vendors and other attractions take root here.
(Click to enlarge greatly)
Signature elements. (And they wonder why we think the real trees look so small...)
Section 101, Row 34
I think this promenade over the railroad tracks needs a name. How about the Halsey Hall Promenade? (Please do not throw cigar butts onto the tracks!)
iew of the pavilion in center. It has a quirky shape, but one which is completely consistent with the overall ballpark design. Nice work there. You can also get a glimpse of the greenery which will rise above the fences.