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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Looking up toward Sixth Street.
The Puckett atrium fireplace is just barely visible at the far left.
The equivalent spot on the model.
The Northstar station at night
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
The glare problem.
These stairs will go up to the centerfield pavilion.
World Series trophies on display at left
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).
Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).
Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.
Reverse view, now looking down Sixth toward the park. The Met Stadium flag pole will be right there!
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.)
I took this picture from the Overlook at great personal risk, because everything Thome was hitting was landing out that direction.
Sharing and Caring Hands, as viewed from the ballpark site about a block away. Note transaction in progress in the shadows.
A trailer village has sprung up to the south.
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)
The east wall of the building looks like it will be the first part completed. These are probably supports for the plaza, and they hug the very edge of the site.
Click to see the full-size image.
Two concepts here remain in the final design. First is the oddly-shaped pavilion in center. Second is the section just above the right field fence. In the current design this section will hang over the field by a few feet. The original doesn't do that, but you can see that the concept goes way back in the planning.
A sign that your mall is all but dead: roped off escalators. (This is at about 4:00 PM on a weekday.)
More flowers, more pennants.
Limestone still dominates the Seventh Street walkway from a pedestrian point of view. But brick take over as you move upward -- a concession to cost, no doubt.
Wind veil install from across Seventh
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.