As the front steps of the house, the plaza has proven to be even more welcoming than we all imagined. It draws you right into the place on game days, and provides a strong whiff of baseball even when there are no brat carts out there.
It's also surprisingly adaptive to the weather. What they did with plantings seemed to embrace the fall (very noticeable during the playoff games), and then even turned out to make winter statements.
That last picture is notable mostly for what I cropped out. Look at the entire image:
Suddenly it's possible to understand a little better why everyone was so upset about that damn sign.
You may remember that I was sort of indifferent to it when it first appeared. But I may have had a change of heart, at least from this vantage point. Beyond Twins/Target branding, it's the only piece of advertising visible from the plaza (the sign on Butler Square says "Go Twins!"), and it sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. In addition to being gigantic, its background looks like the painters couldn't find the right color to match the rest of the building. It's big and ugly.
But it also highlights a big difference between the two facilities/owners/teams. Target Center has always had gigantic ads plastered all over its facade. Target Field has not a one (beyond the branding). Walk all the way around Target Field and you will not find a single video board or ad space for rent on the outside. Instead, you'll actually find public art on the Fifth Street side filling salable ad space, and the wind veil on the side of the B ramp (where gigantic banners could easily have been sold).
I know that branding is advertising. But there's a big difference between hanging banners for your own company on the outside of your building and selling that space to someone else (even the Target branding is decidedly muted on TF compared to the bullseye which hovers over Target Center's main entrance on First Ave).
From the beginning, everyone involved with the plaza design wanted to create a civic amenity which doubled as an entrance to the ballpark (or, alternately, an entrance which doubled as an amenity). That big-ass sign, whose true audience is the TV cameras of course, nonetheless diminishes the plaza space measurably.
Let's turn to a couple of other things I saw, not all of which are technically new.
First, the additional wall of names is done (not sure exactly when they got it finished), and it includes the lyrics to the Twins song at one end, and "Take Me Out..." at the other.
The statues have started to show their inevitable colors.
Will they clean these? Should they clean these? Turning green gives them a sense of permanence and age. I kind of like it.
A close personal friend will be waiting to greet you as you enter the plaza from First Avenue. (I haven't seen Sid in person lately, but he should probably also be checked for signs of greening.)
And the sunny side of Target Field is a great place to take a break.
One thing I almost forgot: I've started to wish that the plaza were bigger -- that it filled that whole area over the freeway. Not that it isn't nice as is, but this is a case where I think that more would actually be better. I hope somebody somewhere has that on their wish list.
Anyway, if you haven't walked the plaza lately, do yourself a favor and don't wait for opening day. Think of it as a "happy place" always there waiting for you. (Just ignore the big sign.)
"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?)