Rule of Life #573: At some point, you WILL need a hard hat.
Only I don't have one (at least not one with genuinely protective qualities). And today it actually mattered.
Following a great lead from J2K, I signed up for a tour of the ballpark and Northstar station site this afternoon with an organization called the "ASCE Younger Members Group" (ASCE turns out to stand for American Society of Civil Engineers). Realizing that I'd probably have some trouble passing for a young civil engineer, I identified myself right away as a blogger, but they welcomed me with open arms.
The requirements which came with the confirmation clearly stated that a hard hat, safety glasses, and safety vest (as well as long pants, long-sleeve shirt, hard-toe boots, indemnity waiver, etc.) were required in order to get into the site. Makes sense.
It further stated that there would be some borrowable vests, safety glasses, and hard hats available for anyone who didn't have their own -- 20 sets for a group of 80 people. Not feeling completely comfortable with those odds, I made a few phone calls and sent a few messages trying to guarantee that I would have one.
The rules were clearly posted next to this new entry point on the Seventh Street side. I have no problem with the rules!
When not a single one of my calls or emails was returned (I probably should have taken that as a sign), I decided simply to arrive early and make sure I was one of the first 20 people. That much I accomplished rather easily.
Only there were no loaners. None. Not one. And it was clear from the first face I met as I stepped through the door to the Mortenson construction office trailer: no hard hat, no tour. There I was. Hatless. S. O. L.
Just to add insult to injury, when I asked a construction worker where I might find the trailer containing the "Mauer Room", he referred me to what turned out to be a fancy tool shed about half a block in the wrong direction. Yeah, I'm a ballpark geek, and I guess it shows. (The Mauer Room is the big conference room in the main office trailer. The other two conference rooms are the Morneau Room and the Cuddyer Room. I'm not sure which of the latter two is bigger.)
So, sorry for hyping that to you all. I was pretty sure I could make it work.
I still want to take such a tour, and I'm open to any leads you may have. Unfortunately, the only hard hat I own or I'm likely to own in the near future has Winnie-the-Pooh on it (see above). So I'll need a little help with that...
Anyway, not wanting to waste the trip, and with a good hour of now-uncommitted time, I scoured the site. And I found at least one pretty cool thing that I didn't expect. Over the next few days I'll show you about 30 of the 100 pictures I took.
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.
I don't know if the back side is also a test for materials, but it could be a hint of how the exposed steel supports will be finished. Or it could just be to hold up the stone.
I was lucky enough to nab the very last brochure in one of the skyway promo displays. Here are scans of the three new renderings.
It's hard to put too much stock in these. I can spot a few minor changes, but these are far from detailed.
The poster certainly raises the issue of bench seating in the outfield. I took this close-up:
Bench seating? (Click to see hi-res version.)
Is this a rendering of what it will actually be like? I'm a little skeptical. As you can see, it looks like a series of steps without seats or backs. Well, the steps are both seat AND back.
It could work, but my hunch is that this may be a cartoon version for promotional purposes -- not intended for the scrutiny people like you and I might want to give it. But I'll check.
On to the ballpark:
This is the plaza as viewed from the A ramp.
Work in progress.
The connection from the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue. You can now see where the little grassy area and franchise history board will be (the triangular area in the foreground).
Another deck to come...
A peak inside what will become the main concourse.
A very busy place, as viewed from Target Center.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that as I drove away from the site today, I saw a homeless man tightly cradling a bright yellow hard hat. Non-Pooh variety.
12 recent recognized visitors, including: Rube, Sandy, terry, Winona Mike
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 3004 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
This view is from the roof of a warehouse which stood where the A ramp is today. The HERC is now located where the tracks turned north (toward the top).
Here's one big problem with a retractable roof: completely terrible seating in left. These scant few seats would have been tucked under the track. No sunshine, no open concourse, it was a terribly kludgy idea. With some hindsight, it's very clear that adding a retractable roof on this small site would have required compromises which would have just been too extensive to tolerate. Without it, the design was free to grow into something much more memorable.
A glimpse of the rather plain west facade (the side which faces the HERC plant).
You can get a hand-carved sandwich, or ice cream while pondering the career of Julio Becquer.
Section A, Row WC
After the rain. (We were in the wrong spot to see the rainbow...)
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
This isn't a very good picture, but it is the current view of the inside of a suite.
Concrete molds are being removed!
A last look on the way out.
Footings for the Seventh Street walkway from the A ramp.
One more time from the third base side.
In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.
Click to enlarge.
Oh no! Beach ball! But click to enlarge so you can see the wide range of expressions on people's faces. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
An escalator was going in the day I was there.
Photo by Jeff Ewer
Hit gap, win suit!
Look familiar? Unfortunately, just adding little balconies with cool angles will not offset the pervading ugliness.
LRT throngs after the game
This view, from the Minnekahda building (or possibly a predecessor), looks toward the right field corner. The City Market, at left, occupied the land where the B ramp and Target Plaza now stand (over I-394). And the Overlook now juts out just a little beyond where that driveway enters the railyard.
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:
"I've never seen them do that before," said a Metropolitan Club waiter as I snapped this picture.
I suppose that one day my son will graduate from Mrs. Fields to Hooters. At least he won't have to travel too far. *Shudder*
View from the batter's eye seats
The wooden louvers are in on Fifth Street
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
Storage tracks in the foreground.
Here's the Northstar platform.
TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)
Crosswalk taking shape.
Don Swanson, left, in-coming commander of the Richfield American Legion, and Joe Kennedy, right, out-going commander, are pictured with the Legion's new flag pole, which once stood at old Metropolitan Stadium. (Click to enlarge.)
At one point, we thought these windows might represent one of the so-called knotholes. But nope. Nothing to see here. (Nearest I can tell, there will be no view of the playing field whatsoever from the Seventh Street sidewalk.)
Having fun. Installing limestone. Good gig.
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
Looking from the middle of the third base side back toward the entry door
Puckett atrium menu part 2 (Those prices match elsewhere in the ballpark.)
Clyde Doeppner proudly displays colored bricks he scavenged from the Met during its demolition. These are the colors in question!