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The Magic of the Event

April 28, 2007 11:07 PM

We all had a good celebration, didn't we? Now it's back to some fretting and wondering. Even though the Twins have signed the lease, the railroad issue remains unresolved, and the land owners are getting even more lawyered-up. Though everyone's talking like the bulldozers will be getting to work pretty soon, it remains to be seen. There's a big (new, I think) sign at the entrance of the Rapid Park lot which tries to make it look like they'll be there for a while.

So, while there's daylight ahead, I still see some woods. It's too early to really celebrate.

A little bit of miscellaneous for today:

After writing about the Twins design, and the unremarkable way it will appear on the horizon, it occurred to me: that's exactly how you might build a roof-ready park. Could there be a reason behind maintaining such a low profile?

The Vikings released some sketches, but it hardly constitutes a design. It's just a few concepts, and a working draft of a site plan, but I like it. I'll admit, though, that it's hard to imagine anything happening on such a project for at least a couple of legislative cycles.

Another stadium resource became available for really cheap on Amazon, and it yielded even more to think about as I look at the Twins drawings. The introductory essay hits the most important concepts in an eloquent fashion:

Rome of the Carolinas
By Peter Cook
Excerpted from the essay found in The Stadium: Architecture for the New Global Culture by Rod Sheard.

The Colosseum

Sitting there in Rome -- and not just a craggy old monument -- the Colosseum still oozes action and power. Its form races round in space with that tricky -- but tempting -- ability to grab a 'dynamic' and transmit a sense of that grabbing over the two thousand years of its existence.

We don't just need to be prompted by Technicolor blockbusters with surround sound to remind us of what went on, because it's surely there in the stone and the serried arches that swish past us. the body of the building is, of course, the massive construct that held all those screaming onlookers. Its soul: the now silent field. No plaza, no stage, no altar, no dais -- can approach its aura of dramatic expectation. Yet the architecture is direct, the geometry is obvious, and the architectural rhetoric (despite all the heroism) is remarkably well under control.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon (with inset of the magic eye)

The Pantheon, by contrast, has to resort to devices -- its magic eye is brilliantly cunning, of course, but nonetheless it is a contrivance.

So there, in a nutshell, is the basic challenge of architecture. How to deftly capture the magic? Especially when dealing with the challenge of the Event: the Game and the assembly are theatre. The body can somehow celebrate the sense of expectation -- at every stage from turnstile, cloakroom, bar, television room, players' tunnel, and even more so when these things intertwine and feed each other. Put a body of people queuing, hustling and rustling, and you have something infinitely more electric than a town of similar size to that crowd. ...

Another vagabond's memory, this time from South Carolina: after an hour's drive from the airport, through lush and well-tempered countryside, there was a sudden vision. Like Bluebeard's castle on acid, an enormous, beautiful thing loomed up out of the trees: not apparently surrounded by anything in particular. This, the stadium of Clemson (and its University which was there, somewhere under the trees) seemed to come out of a fairytale. It had class, it had guts and it certainly had presence, though oddly enough, I don't remember much about the architecture except, like the team, it felt GREAT.

Clemson Memorial Stadium

Clemson Memorial Stadium

So we have the stadium as point of arrival, as point of focus, and in terms of urban theory: the point of departure. From a well-honed, well-sited, and (I would suggest) a well-infested event structure we can conjure up a wonderful 'town' of the 21st century.

In our day-to-day survival, we have moved into the world of the hybrid. We live in the reality of the folded-over experience, with fun-and-games as seriousness: one activity as a trigger for other activities, with a crowd rumbling through the turnstiles with a variety of needs or indulgences to be tapped. The best and most ingenious architects are celebrating and articulating the magic of the event -- with a giant arch or a sweeping curve; a slithering, moving canopy; a preying, gesticulating gangway or a striding leg or two on the go. Yet simultaneously they are beginning to incorporate witty combinations of activity; some circumstantial, some entrepreneurial and many 'inspired'.

This bears repeating:

The best and most ingenious architects are celebrating and articulating the magic of the event -- with a giant arch or a sweeping curve; a slithering, moving canopy; a preying, gesticulating gangway or a striding leg or two on the go.

This nicely sums up the drama which I think is still missing from the Twins design. I know that they have a lot of logistics to figure out first, but let's hope that someone within the organization harbors dreams of great architecture -- not just a functional facility or revenue machine. Truthfully, aspiring to great architecture might just be the best thing they could do for their bottom line.

I originally christened my site "Ballpark Magic" because that's what I always felt out in rusty old Met Stadium. That place, for all it's chain link fencing, really did embody the magic of the event of a baseball game. And this is the standard by which we should consider all of the plans we see for the new park:

Will the architecture celebrate the magic of the event?


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This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.

"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.

From the Downtown Council's 2025 Plan, a Metrodome "Revelopment" and a strong indication of where they think a new Vikings stadium should go.

Today's match-up (click to enlarge)

This is the back of the Cisco Field scoreboard, showing video to folks out on the plaza.

Can you name that field? (Braemer Park, Edina)

Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number

This is a closer look at the steel work.

Carew atrium menu part 1

8:32 PM The glare is gone. Elapsed time: 1 hour (approximately 3 innings).

Great sign

This maze of scaffolding is something you'll probably never see again.

This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.

The sign reads, "Mortenson Radio Channels".

One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:

The pink thing is a mascot. (Actually, with a damn fine mascot actor underneath.)

Citi Field as viewed from Shea.

Scoreboard installation in progress

Lots of speakers, but in some places, no sound.

The Hennepin Grille appears to feature chicken, brats, and fries.

Quote wall

From the revised site plan, this is the configuration of Gate 34 Puckett.

Looking toward the Farmer's Market site from the balcony of the 573 Club at TF

Work in progress to improve the streetscape on Second Avenue

TC meets the Mayor (Photo by Jeff Ewer)

The outline of an infield has appeared on the asphalt in advance of the ground-breaking on Thursday night.

Click to see the full-size image.

Parking ramp knothole

Another piece of the neighborhood puzzle: the Northstar platform.


BPM - Ballpark Magic

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit

DSP - Dave St. Peter

FSE - Full Season Equivalent

FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

HPB - Home Plate Box

HRP - Home Run Porch

LC - Legends Club

LRT - Light Rail Transit

MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)

NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium

TF - Target Field

Selected Bibliography - Analysis


First Edition (1992)

Second Edition (2006)


Selected Bibliography - Surveys


Second Edition (1987)

Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title

(2000, large coffee table)

Original edition (2000, round)

Revised edition (2006, round)

(2001, medium coffee table)

(2002, small coffee table)

(2003, medium coffee table)

(2004, very large coffee table)

(2006, very large coffee table)

Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)

Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia


Book and six ballpark miniatures

Complete Bibliography

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