While the Twins and Yankees were playing an afternoon game over at the Metrodome (the result of which is best left unrecorded here), I was making my way all around next year's ballpark and getting some rosy color on my scalp. Could there have been a more perfect day for outdoor baseball?
I parked in the A ramp and started there with some observation of the Seventh Street walkway.
A new staircase is beginning to emerge which will connect the walkway with the sidewalk below on the ballpark side of the street. It drops out somewhat unexpectedly from the west edge of the walkway and proceeds east -- crossing beneath the walkway above.
I'm sure there's a good engineering reason for this, but it is rather unusual in appearance.
Reverse stairway view
Inside the A ramp on the Skyway level, you can see where the walkway connects to the parking.
Walkway entrance from ramp
I snuck just a bit beyond that to get a quick look at the walkway up close.
Walkway sneak peek
Now, lest you think the walkway is the only way to cross Seventh Street, you can rest assured that the original crosswalk and stop lights will be reinstalled where Third Avenue branches off from Seventh Street.
This crosswalk won't be quite as elaborate as the one on the opposite corner (which has to accommodate the LRT station), but it will be beefed up. Cars which currently zip through here at about 45 MPH will have to stop.
It's an open question just how many folks will cross at street level and how many will take the walkway and then the steps. But this will be a very pedestrian-friendly amenity.
Along this stretch, Seventh Street will actually lose a lane, coming down from three lanes to two to accommodate the short-term parking bays. This will help in traffic calming to be sure.
But look at this view of Seventh/Tenth Streets from the east:
A mini-freeway! (Police action in progress...)
That cop had to cross six speeding lanes of traffic to get to the bum sleeping next to the HERC plant.
On game days, people who park to the west will face a few unappetizing choices of where to safely cross this freeway.
My understanding is that there are discussions ongoing about another stoplight and pedestrian crossing in this area. Traffic calming will be aided on game days by charter bus parking, which will be against the HERC property (right about where that cop car is parked), in what is now a lane of traffic.
Short Rant (Don't Be Afraid)
There is a bigger question of what the city should be doing here to return even more pedestrian-friendliness. When this streetscape was originally designed, no one had any idea that thousands of people might ever try to cross traffic here. It was designed to facilitate rapid movement of traffic in and out of downtown.
An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)
Now it looks like there might be some long-term sense in de-freeway-izing this even more. One way would be to get rid of the inbound lanes to Tenth Street (and the corresponding bridge, seen in the above image on the right and on the diagram in blue), routing this traffic onto Royalston, a beautiful, underused boulevard (an aid to calming) lined with largely municipal buildings (unaffected by increased traffic), which connects to Glenwood. This would have the dual purpose of opening up development options over the Target Field parking area which now is bisected by that bridge.
There is also an opportunity there to remove a couple of those municipal buildings and restore Fourth Avenue North, allowing another opportunity for a residential neighborhood (yes, I know, Mary's Place would have to be tamed somehow for that to work).
There is a distinct difference between walking the park on this side (Seventh Street) and the opposite side (Fifth Street). Over there, to facilitate LRT, the street was reduced to -- dig this -- two lanes: one in each direction! What a novel and pedestrian-friendly idea! Walking that side of the park is a much different, and much saner, activity.
With the removal of the three lanes feeding Tenth, and the outbound lane of Seventh closest to the ballpark (already in progress), the same thing could happen on Seventh. Sanity could be restored.
Looking back at the era of one-way freeways into and out of downtown, it's easy to see the thinking: Make it easy for workers to come and go and businesses will be less tempted to relocate to the suburbs somewhere.
Unfortunately, that had the unintended consequence of ghost-towning the downtowns after dark, lengthening commutes, and siphoning off all of the street life, ceding it to cars.
So, hoping that we can agree now that we live in the post-one-way-freeway-downtown era (Minneapolis seems to be coming around to this), it's more important to make life comfortable for the growing number of people who live close by, discouraging longer commutes, and encouraging the return of street life.
Put more plainly, six-lanes of traffic will never be pedestrian-friendly, no matter how beefed-up the crosswalks.
With the Yankees in town, it was a little eerie to discover today that the Bronx Hotel used to stand just about where Twins Town (the new pro shop) is now. Here's another view of the portion of the same building known as the St. Francis Hotel.
Here are a couple more images from today:
A walkway begins to form (this is as close as you can get right now)
"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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Trampled, repaired, and re-trampled grass
Noah is checking out the ample leg room and truly exemplary sight lines.
I set up my late inning "office" at the drink rail behind section 206
The same section seen from Target Center. Yep, looks like bridge supports.
Concept drawing of Coomer gate (click to enlarge)
The view out Gate 6 "Oliva".
Home Run Porch Terrace
This is the actual entrance for Gate 6. Notice how close the seating will be. The back row of the lower deck will be mere inches beyond that inner support post.
Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
What are they hanging over there?
Section 139, Row 8
From the TV camera platform -- the view you'll see on TV
Big board, as viewed from section 327, row 9.
Press box, hallway to the print room
Plaza seating installation
This concourse, the uppermost, was built on top of the now-hidden old concourse during the 70s renovation.
This is the main entry to the Pro Shop. The second entry, located just outside the turnstiles, is indicated by the arrow.
This view clearly shows the curve in the left field stands and the relationship of the first row with the playing field (no overhang to speak of in left).
I had to hold the camera as far over my head as I could to get this shot, in which the infield is finally visible. It's a spot made for your average Timberwolves player.
This is the Metropolitan Club as viewed from the future Ballpark Authority office space.
B ramp glimpse
The gate has grown a row of sponsorship
This looks up Sixth Street from Hennepin. Just imagine what this will look like during a night game!
This is where the main ticket office will be.
Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond
Not much facade left to be finished at this point.
This is the Carew gate covered in plastic.
If you arrive by bus, your first glimpse of the park will be the scoreboard's profile. (Viewed from the bus station in the B ramp.)
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
CBP: retro in facade only
Puckett atrium menu part 2 (Those prices match elsewhere in the ballpark.)
Don Swanson, left, in-coming commander of the Richfield American Legion, and Joe Kennedy, right, out-going commander, are pictured with the Legion's new flag pole, which once stood at old Metropolitan Stadium. (Click to enlarge.)
August 2001 (a month later we were engaged)
T is for Twins
The tower is actually finished, though it looks like a work in progress.