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.
"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 entry from the platform to the ballpark.
A place to sit (does it look like a pitcher's mound to you?)
Two train stations
If you want, you can ask those folks how the game is going -- and even get a little bit of info from the big screen (Grandstand)
From about two blocks away you can finally get an idea of what it looks like. Just to my left (but out of view) was a valet parking stand where a limo was idling.
Artist at work
You can't get there from here.
The back gates at Comerica park, like everything else, a bit overwrought.
Site plan for the new Nationals ballpark, with the size of the Rapid Park site overlaid
Lunch break at the top spot. (Grandstand)
Click to enlarge.
Open house skeptics
Click to enlarge.
Detail on the main gate, with Target Field sign
At the end of the balcony you can see down the promenade.
The outline of an infield has appeared on the asphalt in advance of the ground-breaking on Thursday night.