So many pictures, so little time. Here's one that says it all.
Yesterday's introduction of the ballpark site for the media contained very little in the way of new information, but it was a nice opportunity to see Jerry Bell smile about as wide as I've ever seen. If you saw any of the TV coverage, you heard him say that he was a little disbelieving that there wasn't a critical vote scheduled for this meeting -- that the project was actually getting underway!
It was a pretty small crowd -- much smaller than I expected. And the resulting coverage was understandably muted given the almost total lack of anything interesting to report. By the way, someone really needs to tell KSTP-TV that there won't be a roof.
So we learned that there will be dust for a while. There will be occasional street and bridge closings. There will be trucks going in and out. This is all pretty standard stuff when it comes to building a new building of any type.
We did learn that the playing surface will be about two to three feet below the existing parking surface, and that about 130,000 cubic yards of dirt and asphalt will be hauled away to a landfill in Burnsville. It's hoped that some of the asphalt will be ground up and recycled.
They expect to find railroad debris beneath the asphalt, but are not expecting to find anything which will slow down the project. When he talked about timetables, he made it sound like everything is scheduled pretty tightly, but there is time to make their scheduled opening date if nothing goes too terribly wrong. Clearing and preparing the site will cost about $3 to 4 million.
I also heard Dan Mehls, the construction manager for Mortenson Construction, say that it would not have been possible to build much other than a ballpark on the site because of the soil condition below. He said that you couldn't put a high rise building there because such buildings have all their weight concentrated in one area, versus a ballpark which has its weight distributed evenly over a much larger area.
Dan Mehls, Mortenson Construction
This should be interesting information for those who are doing the determination of the condemnation price. Looks like putting condos there might not have actually been a possibility -- and may not be on other nearby land (assuming the information is accurate). Frankly, I'm hoping a bunch of tall buildings get built in the corridor, with retail at street level to create a sense of neighborhood. As it stands now, the ballpark will be built between two freeway-style bridges to the north and south, a real busy freeway to the east, and a great big public works complex to the west.
And, speaking of the HERC plant (garbage burner), it sure does make a lot of noise. Though I did not smell anything unusual, there were times when I wondered if a noisy plane was going overhead. There was at least one TV helicopter, but it wasn't that kind of sound. It was more like the roar of a hundred giant exhaust fans. I'm assuming this will get addressed somewhere along the way, because it could be terribly disruptive to enjoying a game (although maybe not as disruptive as an overly-loud PA system).
There was some minor concern expressed about high levels of mercury, and seven spots had been marked for special attention. I'm not sure how this gets determined. Without cars parked there it was possible to see that the asphalt is pretty much a patchwork job. Maybe this is due to soil testing. Hard to tell.
I asked Mehls about Bassett Creek. He said that its top is about 15 feet below the current surface (thus about 13 feet below the playing surface), and that it's about 10 feet deep. They have to do some special work to protect it, and do not intend to disturb it or change its flow in any way. While that's a little disappointing, it seems like doing anything more creative would have been just about impossible given that depth.
All of the important locations were clearly marked, and seeing the right field foul pole was something of a shock.
Believe it or not, the actual outfield wall will be about where this fence is now!
Though I was wrong the other day when I wrote about the fence markings on the pavement, the sample foul pole was attached to an existing chain link fence (covered with lovely greenery) separating Third Avenue North from the entrance ramp to I-394. That means that the outfield fence will actually be beyond the markings I saw the other day (which turned out to indicate the location of construction fencing). It's not out of the question that a Justin Morneau home run could hit the parking ramp, or even land out on the freeway!
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)
Mehls was a little hesitant when asked about the heating plan for the playing field. He said that the details were still being worked out, and sounded maybe just a little bit skeptical that this was possible. Of course, modern playing fields are usually installed by special subcontractors, so maybe HOK knows something he doesn't.
Getting the railroad tracks moved a few feet to the west means that there will be only one railroad tunnel underneath the stands, and it will be only a storage tunnel for the Northstar line -- not an active track. All of the active tracks will be outside the ballpark, and that resolves all the questions about liability in case there's an accident. Mehls said that some tracks will run underneath the promenade which will be built on the west side facing the garbage burner, the Star Tribune reported the other day that trains will have no reason to blow their whistles as they pass by the ballpark.
Even though it was a gray day, I took the opportunity to snap about a hundred pictures which will become my official "before" collection. Look for some more of these over the next few days.
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Back of scoreboard; facade in context.
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
Upper deck view of the out-of-town scoreboard.
Typical SRO view upstairs.
Bench seating just off the plaza
This is a slightly blurry view 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.
Replays on the out-of-town scoreboard!
Concrete molds are being removed!
The proposed wooden screen covering the circulation ramp on Fifth Street (at left is the equivalent screen on Seventh Street).
"Hey look! There we are!"
That's Fifth Street (and a tattooed arm) in the foreground.
The Northstar circulation building is starting to take shape.
Workers against green
The bases for the player statues have been recently upgraded.
Photo by Jeff Ewer (Click to enlarge.)
Rich Pogin (left) and Bruce Lambrecht (Source: Skyway News)
Legends Club seats feature in-seat service
Legends Club seats in context (above the main concourse, below the suite level)
Stairs and escalator down to the platform
The ballpark development area expanded by 1000 feet in each direction
Guthrie Theater (original design colors)
Can you name that field? (Braemer Park, Edina)
This is an angle I have not used very much, from the top of the Fifth Street ramp. Because the wall is so tall (forget about watching a game from here for free -- OK, maybe with a step stool) I have to hold the camera up over my head and just snap, hoping I get something good. Here I did. This view then looks to the southwest.
Infield dirt used as accents
Here's a detail from the above image, showing the LED strips up close.
Viewed from another angle, you can see that the bullpens now sit beneath the upper deck outfield seating.
July 7, 1966 (Click to see the entire scorecard with ads)