No question that one of the greatest parts of ballpark-building to watch is seat installation. That's the point where acres of empty cement steps suddenly become actual places to sit and watch a game. Finally it's possible to understand the scale of everything, and eventually point to some seat and say, "That one's mine!"
So I took some time to capture the flavor of the seating bowl as it takes shape. When I was there, I would estimate seat installation at maybe 10 or 15% complete, but progressing steadily.
Before beginning, I should mention that it's pretty hard to keep the names of these sections straight. On the current pricing chart (which contains season ticket prices only), there are 22 sections listed. Each has a color which allegedly corresponds to a section on the seating chart.
There are two problems with this. First, some of the colors are so close together as to be virtually indistinguishable without a color probe tool. Second, there are some colors which just plain don't match anything on the seating chart, and vice versa. (On second viewing today, and with the use of a color probe tool, I discovered that none of the colors match exactly, but most are close enough for the eye to make the connection. If you want to see a comparison, or get the chart with the matching colors, click here.)
With some care, I put together this handy chart with actual text labels to keep everything straight.
For reference, in the captions for each image below, I will include the actual section of the park being shown.
Let's start in the B ramp elevator lobbies, where it appears that views into the ballpark will continue to be available even after the park opens. You won't be able to watch a game from there, but you may be able to get a reflected sense of when things are going well -- or not.
A familiar view through the top floor elevator lobby window in ramp B (HRP View and Terrace).
Here is a close-up of those funny little islands of seats (HRP View).
Home Run Porch Terrace
Lots of work has gone into detailing the fronts of these decks. That is a little thing, but a NICE little thing. (HRP View)
The back row of seats in straight-away center. Note that, beyond those seats, you can see the planters (for flowers) on the front of the Left Field Bleachers.(Batters Eye)
Here is where the signature art (original Twins logo) will be placed.
Home Run Porch Terrace (bottom) and View (top) as seen from the top of the B ramp
No matter how you try to disguise it, the B ramp will be a pretty significant presence at Target Field. For example, the back row of the outfield seats (Grandstand, or, "the trapezoid") is virtually up against the ramp. You will, for example, be able to see from the elevator lobby the people sitting there. And, if you want, you'll be able to talk to them from the top of the ramp.
That is pretty close... (Grandstand)
Lunch break at the top spot. (Grandstand)
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)
Installing seats requires drilling bolt holes, placing the arm rests, then attaching backs and bottoms to connect the arm rests. Everything comes in boxes. Seems like a lot of needless cardboard to me...
Installation in action (Home Plate Box)
The finished product. Note that, at the very bottom of this image, you can just barely see the tops of the windows which look into the Champion's Club. (Home Plate Box)
Staging for the next section (Home Plate Box)
I've learned that there is a company whose sole job is to go around inspecting every part of the Target Field construction to make sure that it meets the architect's specifications and all safety requirements. They are independent, and whatever they say goes.
They look for problems, then approve remedies, then reinspect. When things crop up that need to be redone, they are redone. In fact, there were times during cement pours when things actually had to be jack-hammered out and re-poured because of what inspections found. That's actually pretty comforting.
As far as I know, there have been no major problems while installing the seats, despite whatever rumors you may have heard.
But if there were problems with, oh, say, bolts, one can imagine that, in a big project like this, it could easily turn into a blame game between architects, engineers, suppliers, installers, etc. There are a lot of separate entities working together to build this park, and blame would be a pretty typical reaction in any large organization or project with so many people involved.
But I'm told that no such culture exists among the construction teams building Target Field. In the rare event when problems have been discovered, everyone is focused solely on fixing things and staying on schedule. There is no time for blame. Problems are inevitable, and blame solves nothing.
It's a great lesson which many large organizations never learn, but a great example of what it means to build a Major League facility with Major League contractors and workers.
Here are some upper deck shots.
Preparations underway (Field View)
Finished product (Field Terrace)
I heard in interesting story about the height of the railings.
There's a very real problem with sight lines if the railings get too high. But there is an even more distressing problem with fans falling over if the railings are too low.
Well, original designs called for railings of a certain height, but when principle members of the design and construction team went out to see what they were like, the general consensus was that they were dangerously low.
They had been designed with sight lines in mind, but simply had to be modified for safety. Even so, the conclusion was that views were not overly disrupted, and the park was much safer. Thus, the design was changed throughout the park.
A seating bowl comes into focus. Note that the netting has been installed on the foul pole. (Field Box)
No admittance -- yet! Note that you can see the seating bolts which are in place already.
Here is one of my favorite views, in large measure because you will actually be able to see fans in the seats through that little opening. The skyway will be alive with the games.
Today I made a deal for some seats out in the trapezoid (er, Grandstand), buying some leftover games from a STH group (which does not, unfortunately, make me a STH). But at least I know for sure that I'll get in to see a few games next year.
"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?)