Lost in some of the chatter over the Target Plaza announcement was the (apparent) answer to some long-standing questions about the configuration of the entrance gates there.
From the revised site plan, this is the configuration of Gate 34 Puckett.
The model disagreed with the original site plan as well as the early renderings -- which is understandable. But the configuration is interesting because the team has made a big deal out of saying that this will in effect be the "front door" for the ballpark. Circulation issues have to be at the forefront of their considerations.
I'm not sure whether this design comes from Oslund (who did the plaza design) or HOK (who did the ballpark design) or somewhere else. But it's clear that some thought has gone into it.
As it appears in these renderings, there will be nine (can't be coincidence, right?) swinging gates, four of which, roughly in the center, are covered by a little roof.
The little roof is a surprise, given that nothing like it appears in earlier information. It appears to be mostly ornamental, though it does focus movement a bit. You can easily imagine, for an event which does not require all nine gates, that the covered gates would be favored.
One of the most appealing aspects to this gate has always been that it allows essentially unfettered visibility into the park for people approaching on the plaza.
Imagine taking that walk down from First Avenue, with the ballpark on display in front of you the whole way. The skyway between parking ramps provides its own sort of gateway, and as soon as you pass beneath it, the whole of the ballpark snaps into view. The worst thing to do at that point would be to somehow hinder it.
There may have been a temptation to do something more busy, like what I saw at Comerica. That would have been a mistake. And thought the roof hinders the simplicity a little bit, it's not so much as to take away from what is likely to be a breathtaking view.
The back gates at Comerica park, like everything else, a bit overwrought.
Also of interest is the little bend, and the fact that the orientation of these gates allows for more plaza space outside.
Having walked this plaza, it currently seems quite spacious. But in viewing the new plaza design, it's clear that some of this space will now be taken up by a host of other things.
The topiaries take up less room than the original design's grove of trees (the foundations for which have now been quietly filled in with cement, in case you hadn't noticed), but there's so much going on here that every square inch of extra space will be put to use by some fan.
Some of the early drawings had the row of gates way out where the plaza finally reaches its widest point. This would have been disastrous, and has been averted.
It's important to note that comparing this plaza to the one currently found at the Metrodome isn't very useful. By my (admittedly crude) calculations, the Metrodome plaza is larger, and benefits from a sort of fade-away area which allows its perceived size to be even larger.
Target Plaza has very distinct and unforgiving boundaries, but it serves a different master. Where the Metrodome plaza was built to give fans someplace to hang out before entering the ballpark, Target Plaza is very much a pathway which guides people inside.
Some fans will surely hang out there, but not because they don't want to enter the park (as it is across town). There will be so much more to do inside Target Field, and such a different atmosphere, that the park itself is in some ways its own plaza space. Where the Metrodome has an air-tight barrier between in (bad) and out (good), Target Field has a more porous feel between in (good) and out (bad).
What a change.
The Pole Poll
Voting has concluded on the flag pole location, and it was a decidedly split decision. We even had a serious write-in candidate (a location on the Seventh Street side in front of the Pro shop).
But I have to say that I've been pondering this one for quite some time. I've admitted feeling a little bit disappointed when I originally heard what the team was planning. But that feeling is gone. So up next in our plaza review will be some discussion of how the plaza will get to and meet First Avenue, and why that old Met Stadium souvenir actually may have found it's best possible home up there.
Noah and I stopped down at the park over the weekend to get a look at the Seventh Street facade. Here's a quick glimpse for those living in other places.
Back of scoreboard; facade in context.
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.
Gate 29 Carew
The Carew gate ticket windows have grown a small awning.
The brick has been tinted where the circulation ramp meets the admin building.
These outfield stands will likely remain visible to passersby.
Look at all that blank space. Canvas! (What should go on those walls? A giant schedule perhaps?)
"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.
"I've never seen them do that before," said a Metropolitan Club waiter as I snapped this picture.
Griffith Stadium (notch visible in lower photo at far left)
Looking across the top of the B parking ramp. Notice that signage will block any attempts at seeing the game from up there. Also take note of the glassed in area which is part club and part office space for the Ballpark Authority.
From the TV camera platform -- the view you'll see on TV
In the foreground you can see the supports for the plaza as it will meet the corner of North Seventh Street and Third Avenue North.
No admittance -- yet! Note that you can see the seating bolts which are in place already.
A view into the park down Sixth Street from just beyond Hennepin. Note that one side of the street contains century-old, classic buildings -- structures which are likely to last another century or more. The other side, not so much. (Click the image to see what it looked like from exactly the same spot 97 years ago.)
New Downtown Minneapolis Public Library (Source: RP)
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
Brick work just inside the opening matches the color of the limestone - per Jerry Bell's requirements.
A recent view of the Bud deck in progress
Photo by Jared Wieseler
In case you don't know, that's Earl Battey.
Another deck to come...
A spot that's always full!
Carew atrium menu part 1
Viewed from up Sixth Street (that's Target Center on the left), you can get an idea of how the connection is currently planned. As it stands now, the plaza will extend to that support pillar, from which a stairway will empty to the sidewalk below. If they get their wish, additional support structures will provide a walkway along Target Center which will gradually (without stairs) meet the sidewalk somewhere up near First Avenue.
Work on the pavilion in center.
Hey! An unnumbered gate!
I know you've seen these, but is there a better finishing touch anywhere else in baseball? I know not one.
Storage tracks in the foreground.
The view from the corner of Ford Centre. (Feel free to tie up your boats here.)
Steps going up at Gate 29/Carew
Work beneath the scoreboard
Catwalks provide access to the View Level seats (from the Ballpark Authority July update)
This was actually taken from the top floor of the International Market Square.
Note that, even though the scoreboard appears strategically placed, it's the outfield stands which block any potential view of the field from this roof.