Our very own OG Jeff (aka The Ballpark Ninja) got a chance to tour Target Field last week and was kind enough to provide his own detailed report -- with photos! -- for exclusive publication here. He laments the fact that his camera didn't last as long as the tour, but what he got is lots of fun. (I added the photo captions.) Thanks, Jeff!
OG Jeff Tours Target Field
By Jeff Bull
On Wednesday I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak inside Target Field. What I saw confirmed what many of us have suspected: Target Field will be a gem. It also raised a lot of questions regarding construction process, interior finishes and how much the Twins have yet to decide.
My tour was given by an HOK architect who is on-site every day, and his involvement with every step of the process has been heavy, which meant he answered some debated questions and revealed changes that have quietly taken place behind the scenes. He was kind enough to walk me to every level of the park as well as around the entire complex - including center field and the Twins future administration building.
Entrance to the Champions Club
Q. How did HOK get the project? Was it because you've built so many other stadiums?
A. Yes, but there were two other architects that were offered the opportunity to design for the site. The other two architects came back saying that the site was simply too small and a ballpark could not be built there. HOK, having experience with small footprints like SF, was up to the task.
Q. Throughout the design process, what were the main influences? The warehouse district, retro feel, or the modern urban feel of the Walker and Mpls Library?
A. HOK was really excited to do something different with this park and the Twins had a similar vision. The "retro" feel has been passed by for the "modern", and it's really starting to become apparent inside the concourse and places like the Metro Club. For example, the ceiling of the concourse is not the bottom-side of exposed stadia above. Instead, the ceilings are fully finished with a very modern and clean look. I was skeptical, but after seeing the finished ceiling, it really fits the look and design of the park. (Note: The same approach was taken in Washington, a recent HOK project my guide worked on. Although the Nationals Park is on a large footprint, the finishes are modern and clean)
A sample of the finished concourse ceiling
Another ceiling sample.
Q. What's the deal with the overhang in right field? Is it still there?
A. Yes, it is. However, HOK originally wanted the overhang to be 8 feet out over the playing field. But, to put it nicely, the Twins were hesitant to take big risks or be too "leading edge" and so they have asked that the overhang be reduced. It will now be 2 feet at one end and near 5 feet at the end closest to center field.
That's the right field foul pole, visible at left.
Q. Why put the foul poles in this early in the process?
A. The contractor for all of the steel in the stadia is the same one that makes the foul poles. Since steel has such a long lead-time, it's ordered early (in case there's mistakes and a reorder is needed) Why they put them up so early was a little perplexing to the architects, but Mortensen is 100% in charge of the construction schedule.
Q. You did not connect the concourse directly to the ramps. Was this because you didn't want to create a tunnel and go through the regulation process of a tunnel?
A. Exactly. But after it was underway being constructed, the city forced the project to go through the whole process anyway! The lighting, exhaust fans, safety measures are all built to the specifications of a full tunnel.
I-394 is visible through the tiny space between the ballpark and the B ramp.
Q. Is that a ribbon board in center field!?!
A. Yes - there is already a scoreboard on the lower level in center field. Why Mortensen would install them this early in the process is peculiar, but they've begun putting them in.
First ribbon board, above the bullpens.
Q. Are there other unique retail places planned other than the main Pro Shop?
A. Yes. There will be small custom stores planted throughout the park. One of the most unique "secondary retail locations" will be on the main level of what will become the Twins admin building. It's being called the "glass box retail", and it will be constructed to stand alone with glass walls.
Store behind home plate
A first peek inside the Pro Shop!
Pro Shop entrance from the plaza.
Q. Will the stadium have a large animatronic neon sign in center field?
A. I was brought to the "split" deck in centerfield, where a concession stand will be as well as two large pillars that will hold up a "main logo piece". The discussion of the MN/STP logo on a large sign is still being discussed, and has not been decided yet. Several concepts are being "floated around".
Whatever that main logo piece will be, here's about where it will go.
Q. What's the giant wood wall mural in the spacious club lounge?
A. A wood stained wall mural of Rod Carew is being put up at the South end of one of the two club level lounges. This piece of art is FANTASTIC looking! It was only partially installed, but will look amazing once completed. (My camera had stopped working at this point - I was ready to cry not being able to shoot this)
Q. How in holy hell did HOK and Mortensen get the right center field bleachers to fit?
A. The bleachers in center are truly a modern marvel of architectural engineering. HOK is still a little unsure about sightlines, meaning that home run fence below will be un-viewable from those bleachers, but they will definitely be a unique feature of Target Field. The process and construction to "fit" them there was a feat - especially since they stand about a foot away from Ramp B. As you walk through the concourse in centerfield, Ramp B's brick is exposed to the fan, which became much cooler once I was standing next to it.
Stairway to the center field bleachers
Center field bleachers (looks kinda steep from this angle)
Q. How will the right field upper deck seats be? They seem really close to the field... (this one was for you, mazaratirick)
A. The experience in right field will be unique because the upper deck is so close to the playing field. The front of the deck in both right and center is parallel with the playing field below. HOK would rather have it back a few more feet, so you could see the home run fence and warning track below, but space was tight. Instead, fans will be closer but won't see the fence below them.
Q. What's the story behind the Metropolitan Club?
A. Originally, the Metropolitan Club was designed to be a huge cantilever, similar to the Guthrie's cantilever, but even more grandiose. Due to the size of the unsupported section, a monumental effort was put into engineering. However, as the process continued, the Twins realized they needed a set of concessions, bathrooms, ticket offices, etc in the area, and there was no other place to put them except under the cantilevered area. As a result, the stunning visual has been diminished. After standing in the Metropolitan Club, I can attest that it is AWESOME. The intimate views contrasted with the expansive feel inside is a great dynamic.
What you see beneath the Metropolitan Club is NOT part of its support structure. That's all in-fill to accommodate some necessary functions. It could be removed and the thing would appear to hang in mid-air!
Q. What's the big hole in the right field lower deck all about? Will there be seating there?
A. Yes, there will eventually be seating there, but it will be placed on hydraulic lifts. This entrance is to meet code so a fire truck can access the playing field if needed. This is the only entrance for a vehicle of that size to enter the park.
The opening on the left is for field access by emergency vehicles. On the right will be the bullpens.
Q. Why a split upper deck?
A. When getting concessions, fans will still be able to see the game, around the entire upper bowl. It also allowed the seats to be closer and utilizes the space on the small footprint better. After standing at the concession stand area, I can attest that this is a great idea. The upper concourse is big, but not huge. Therefore, even when fans are at the back of it, they can still see the scoreboard and part of the field. If something happens, fans are 4 steps away from seeing the entire field.
Typical concession stand.
Q. What's the long, tight tunnel behind the Twins dugout (now covered by stadia)?
A. It's a sprint-track, for players to get warm running during the game.
A close-up look at how the stadia are put together.
Q. Why is there paint in some of the suites already?
A. It's true - there is paint in some of the suites. It's a surprising move by Mortensen, but they are under extremely rigid timelines and will complete some things early to try to save time.
Concession stand beneath the center field bleachers.
Other fun notes:
The 573 Club, which is at the southwest corner of the park, looks a lot like a smaller version of the Metro Club. Construction is coming along behind some of the other lounges and Club areas, as the roof has just been completed. It's spacious, but the space will feel quite different since there are no downtown views or ability to watch the field.
The underside of the canopy is a metal product that will look similar to "the underside of a whale". The scaffolding that is currently in right field will crawl along behind the canopy construction installing the soffits and underside of the structure . Since the sub-contractors for the steel stadia supports and the pre-cast concrete are different groups, the concrete team has been trying to time the installation to stay a couple days behind the steelworkers. That is why, in part, different sections of the outfield and infield seem sporadic in their installation.
"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 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
The top of a warehouse visible beyond a parking ramp.
Pawlenty makes it official!
At Comerica Park, some aisles have railings and some do not.
The plate marker is just to the left.
Some fun field facts. (Click to enlarge.)
Back of scoreboard; facade in context.
Here's a closer look at the bullpen area. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think there is still an opening to the concourse right above.
From the B ramp, 6th level elevator lobby window
A trailer village has sprung up to the south.
A close-up of the rooftop party deck.
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.)
This view, also from the same warehouse roof, shows the newly-rebuilt viaduct on North Seventh Street.
Note that the sign in the background will NOT be changed because "Twins Way" doesn't extend this far north.
This little item stands just to the south of the site, where the volleyball courts used to be. It has to be related to exterior finishing elements, which means this is the first glimpse of the actual stone to be used. Very buttery.
If you are into shade, there are lots of opportunities. This is from the last row in section 108 -- scoreboard not blocked in the least.
(Click to enlarge greatly)
Loading docks to the right, VIP entrances to the left.
Look closely at the overhang. You'll see the on the right it is flush with the fence, and then it sticks out farther and farther as you move toward center. More fun for Michael Cuddyer.
The Puckett Atrium
Oh, a flag pole will be so much more...dignified
Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)
You can finally see how the plaza will meet the street on the north side of this emergency exit tower (which will be converted to a regular entrance/exit)
A path for workers -- don't touch the plaza! -- in front of three giant Chia pets
Here is Seventh Street viewed from the west looking toward downtown. This will probably be the most pedestrian-friendly side (other than the plaza), but only if there is some psychological barrier between the people on foot and the people in their dangerously fast-moving automobiles.