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A Tale of Two Outfields

November 3, 2007 2:49 AM

Here, for your perusal, is a detail from the new renderings of the outfield seating as compared to the original design:

Revised outfield configuration

Revised outfield configuration (courtesy HOK Sport)

Original outfield configuration

Original outfield configuration

The improvements are numerous, starting with getting rid of the restaurant. The new seating is very welcome because these will probably be cheap seats.

But the expansion of flowers along the outfield fence is great (they can be seen on portions of the wall in the first design, but have clearly been expanded). I like this so much better than the Horrible Yellow Line favored in so many places. I have to believe that the flowers will make their way into discussions of the ground rules at home plate before games. How cool is that?!?

I'm not a gardener. In fact, I wish I had the aptitude. But whoever lived in my house before I bought it was a great gardener, and planted a spectacular variety of plants which bloomed at various times of the season. There always seemed to be something new in bloom, with the colors shifting throughout the summer. If that is the type of thing the Twins have in mind, it takes a great idea and nearly perfects it. Imagine a certain color of flower which only blooms in October!

Outfield food court

Evidence of a food court behind the seating above the batter's eye

The renderings are ambiguous, but the new animation makes it clear that there is no hand-operated scoreboard out there. I know that some will grumble about this, but for me, building a hand-operated scoreboard into a new park is kind of like installing rotary phones in telephone booths on the concourses.

For parks that were built during that era, keeping those elements of the past is essential. I can't imagine Wrigley or Fenway without them. But adding such anachronisms to new parks seems silly and gimmicky. It is best avoided.

If you've been to Miller Park you know that somebody runs around behind the outfield scoreboards changing numbers throughout the game. Well, through the first few innings at least. Then they get tired. Very, very sleepy. Maybe they get free beer back there.

When I was last there the Twins were in a pennant race, but the scoreboard updates got less and less frequent as the game progressed. By the ninth inning of the game I was watching, the "classic manual scoreboard" had been stalled on the fifth inning of the Twins game for about an hour. In one spot there was a little window where there should have been a score.

Maybe they just have bad help. But really, it's kind of stupid. Technology isn't always a bad thing. On the other hand, gimmickry is always a bad thing.

For those concerned about it, there is clearly a TC logo on the front of the scoreboard. Of course, the scoreboard design will probably be one of the last things finalized, but at least it's clear that the team intends to keep this iconic symbol around. (The newer logos are fine, but for those of us who became fans as kids in the 60s, the TC logo is and always will be the team's official logo.)

Outfield overhang

Limestone facing and flowers on the right field overhang

This was in the original design and has been retained: the front of the right field overhang will be faced with limestone. It's a great way to connect the interior to the exterior (it also appears behind home plate), but could certainly be a game changer. Balls hitting limestone will probably take a hard bounce back toward the infield and still be in play. A visiting right fielder who thought he was going to make a great catch at the wall may find himself making a desperate throw to the plate to prevent an inside-the-park homer.

To me, that's not a gimmick, nor is it disrespectful of the game. It's a reasonably small quirk, that comes about -- at least in part -- because of the shallowness of the ballpark site in that direction. That's the very best reason to build in something like that.

It looks like the standing room above the bullpens and batter's eye have survived. I'm a little unclear on this, but I think they are just concourse walkways, rather than seating areas or food court or something.

The flag poles have been sited, and a flag has appeared on top of the foul pole!

OK, this is starting to feel like one of those "find 10 differences between the photos" puzzles...

Comments


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Nice write up Rick. I have noticed HOK definitely kept fan comfort in mind. There are several areas for the fans to get away from the weather (hot, cold or rainy) and still be able to see the game. There is the 360 degree concourse, almost a 360 degree concourse on the second level, the building in left field, and the three enclosed clubs on the upper deck behind home plate. All of these areas will provide protection while still being able to see the game. I think the three clubs on the upper deck are going to be a hella good time...you can be in a bar with floor to ceiling windows to view the still game.

Posted on November 3, 2007 at 10:55 AM by MOJO Highlight this comment 1

Nice article Rick! It's getting more exciting by the day as the reality of this ballpark begins to take shape.

Does anyone know about the left field grandstand and whether or not they will be bleachers or traditional seats? I still haven't heard much about this concept, bit it appears from the animated video that they will be seats. It would be nice to have some actual bleachers out in left field.

Also, I hope the Twins put a REAL organ in the new ballpark. Whatever they currently have in the Metrodome is terrible and just adds to the blandness of the baseball environment. What would be better than sitting outdoors with a REAL organ at the ballpark.

Posted on November 3, 2007 at 7:43 PM by Luke Highlight this comment 2

Luke,

I'm trying to get clarification on the types of seating. I hope to hear something on Monday.

It could be that they haven't made those decisions, but the animation shows some bench seating in right field (to the right of the overhang).

The article I'm working on now, for posting later tonight, will address that issue further.

Posted on November 3, 2007 at 8:14 PM by Rick 3

nice job, rick.

have we come up with a cool nickname for the angled seating section in right-center?

Luke, I think the organ they have at the Dome is about as real as an organ can get at a ballpark. I've actually seen her playing it, and the sound isn't that bad, relatively. At least it's not circus music, like they have at The Cell.

Posted on November 4, 2007 at 9:10 PM by mike h Highlight this comment 4

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