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Honoring Baseball's Mill City

August 6, 2006 2:29 AM

Here's a quick idea which could be a nice thematic touch for the ballpark.

Flour mill ruins

The old flour Gold Medal Flour Mill, located next to the new Guthrie theater (Source: RP)

From about the time of the Civil War until the mid-20th century, Minneapolis was the flour-milling capital of the world. It sounds a little dry, but the history of our city and much of the region derives from this fact.

You can find out more about this history down at the Mill City Museum, which is nestled among the ruins of that once-world-famous district.

Of course, mill architecture is also very distinctive, and in the years since flour milling waned from the local economy, many old buildings have been saved and put to new use. There is a very large complex located just off the northwest corner of Lake Calhoun (the Calhoun Isles condos) that is actually old grain elevators converted into housing. And other large portions of the riverfront ruins have been converted into luxury housing with unique spaces and spectacular views.

So why not incorporate some of this uniquely American architectural style into the ballpark? The photo at left was taken right next door to the new Guthrie Theater, and gives an idea of what elements could be worked in. For one thing, the round elevators could be echoed, perhaps as a tower of luxury suites somewhere down the left field line (not unlike the towers at Petco).

The tower could be made to open into the park on one side, and extend outside -- large enough to house the Twins offices on upper floors (so they can enjoy the skyline view) and even contain a unique restaurant or rooftop seating on the top floor. Tieing in to one of the team's goals, something like that could become a destination with or without a game to watch (but especially with).

For the top, the famous Grain Belt sign from Nicollet Island would make the perfect cap. Incorporating this amazing sign into the park has been suggested to me more times than I can count. I think it's a great idea because it is a direct tie-in to a major portion of local history. Plus it's very distincive, and in need of renovation before someone finally gets permission to dismantle it once and for all (which has nearly happened on multiple occasions).

The history of Minneapolis is in its mills, and this makes a perfectly appropriate architectural theme. In fact, it could become just the distinctive feature our new Twins ballpark needs!

Comments


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I concur, make it happen Mr. St. Peter.

Posted on August 8, 2006 at 7:05 PM by tito Highlight this comment 1

I can't say that I enjoy the towers at Petco. Perhaps it's mainly the placement -- if they were more in the corner of the stadium, they'd blend in better.

Plus, putting it into the corner could be a great way to utilize a less-than-desirable seating area, akin to the new "Terrace Suites" at the Dome.

Posted on August 9, 2006 at 8:02 PM by spycake Highlight this comment 2

Having been to Petco, I feel the Western Metal Supply Building fits nicely in left field with the team store on the first level where fans can walk right behind the left field fence at ground level. Luxury suites are on the second and third floors, a restaurant on the fourth, and 800 bleachers on top of the building.

What I like best about the 'towers' is how they integrate with the main entrance to the park.

I just don't think it makes sense to place very expensive luxury suites on the foul side corner of any outfield, arguably the worst sightlines in a ballpark.

Posted on August 9, 2006 at 10:10 PM by cg Highlight this comment 3

Well, there's nothing saying potential towers have to be expensive luxury suites. Twins offices, a restaurant, and unique rooftop seating are other ideas mentioned here, and all would offer a great incentive to use the outfield foul corner areas.

Why do need to provide an incentive/gimmick like a tower for luxury suites around the infield? Those will sell themselves.
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Roll-up metal doors visible at right.






Bassett Creek's path through the ballpark site (Source: Minneapolis Public Library)



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A timeline of design and construction of the ballpark. (Click to enlarge. Photo by Tyler Wycoff)



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Because of the scale, it's sometimes hard to realize that there are actual guys down there doing the tough work! Here they are getting ready to pour a footing.






The old flour Gold Medal Flour Mill, located next to the new Guthrie theater (Source: RP)



Back of scoreboard; facade in context.



The action drew everybody to the top step. (Click to enlarge greatly.)



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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)






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