It's easy to get carried away when studying the drawings released yesterday. We've been waiting for a long time for this, and it's a joy to pour over these details and begin imagining seeing a game there. At the Metrodome tonight, it was hard to sit still. We've seen the Future, and it will be!
Detail of Entry Plaza #4 (north entry from Fifth Street)
I was fortunate enough to get a press kit when I arrived at the unveiling event yesterday, and it contained a CD-ROM with high resolution versions of all the images they had posted. These enlarge nicely, so I've been stealing as many free moments as possible today to continue pouring over them for details which get at the true character of what is currently on the table.
Before digging into that, the Twins have made it very clear that these drawings are nowhere near final. In fact, they're a couple of months old and some things have already changed. For example, I've read discussion about the restaurant which is pictured beneath the scoreboard. In the drawings, it's obvious that this would create some obstructed view seats in the upper deck in left field. Well, never fear. That's already been fixed.
The second piece to note is that they've handed about a billion more comment cards, and are serious about getting more input from the fans. Obviously, they won't be able to incorporate everything they hear, but the team readily acknowledges that not everything -- or anything -- is set in native limestone yet. Not even the "fissures," I suppose.
A Few Details
There are five entry plazas (presumably numbered 3, 6, 14, 29, and 34), and it appears that fans may be able to enter at whichever gate is most convenient, rather than the current draconian Metrodome system of meandering up and down long ramps until you get to the gate printed on your ticket. This isn't mentioned anywhere, but the floor plan for the concourse level makes it clear that, since the concourse is 360-degrees around the playing field, and the largest entry point (beyond right field) is near the least number of seats, there's really no reason or means by which you could control where fans go. I hope this is the case, because it's just the right way to do it.
There is also a slender exterior plaza which runs along the northwest side (the garbage burner side), which connects Fifth Street to Seventh Street. The facade and other detailing on this side remains a complete mystery.
Indications that club seating (the wider spaced areas above each dugout) will be a major presence in the lower deck
On closer inspection of the seating bowl, there do seem to be indications of where club seating will be, versus regular rows of fixed chairs. If I'm reading this correctly, there is a very large section of club seating directly above each dugout. Between them, behind the plate, is standard seating, as well as outside of them between the bases and the foul poles.
When enlarged, the drawings are detailed enough to show how many rows are in each section, and for the upper decks, how many seats are in each section. I'm still digesting these.
Yesterday I mentioned that it looked like the split upper deck idea had been scrapped. Now I don't think this is the case, but it has been implemented a little bit differently than in St. Louis. This is a bit difficult to describe, but a small number of fans will walk down from the upper concourse to their upper deck seats, while most will walk up another flight of stairs and then up further to their seats. (I'll try to tease and example from the diagrams.)
There are a scant three rows of seats in the lower deck just beyond the right-center wall. This has the potential to be a great spot to watch the game.
The large square-ish section at the left field corner appears to be the Twins' administrative offices. Somebody there will have a great view of the games!
There are 6 levels in the design:
1. Event Level (clubhouses, loading docks, support operations, playing field)
2. Main Concourse (accessible to all fans and commuters on non-gamedays)
3. Club Level (press box is here, portions will be inaccessible to fans)
4. Suite Level (access to all suites)
5. Terrace Level (this is the upper concourse, with access to all upper deck seats)
6. View Level (the uppermost seating only, accessible by stairs from the Terrace Level)
More to come another day...
Reaction to Reactions
People are funny. I remain shocked by how many fans can't get over the lack of a roof. It's as if the park has no value unless it can keep out rain. Most people have no idea that even with a roof, nothing would be heated! I have written about this plenty of times (here and elsewhere), and in the long term we will all be glad we don't have to watch even a single moment of baseball while sitting inside a cold airplane hangar. It's really time to let this one go, people.
Likewise, I'm dismayed by those who oppose the ballpark in principle and have used this opportunity to rehash old arguments. This is another debate which effectively ended when the funding was approved. Yes, our society's priorities are pretty screwed up at times. Yes, this is one of those times. But a lot of people eat more dessert than vegetables. It's a cruel fact of life. So by all means, keep fighting the war, but you've already lost this battle.
Next, I'm a little shocked at some of the hyperbole which continues to spill into the media:
(Earl) Santee called it a "modern-day Wrigley Field."
It is to laugh. No one is going to be mistaking this ballpark for the gem on the north side of Chicago -- unless they are only looking at the distance between the bases.
Attention Twins: It's a mistake to position this as a "New Wrigley." Fans expecting that (who have seen the real thing) will be gravely disappointed -- and it should not be that way. Ours can be a great ballpark on its own, but Wrigley has an elegance which is matched nowhere else. The graceful arc of its main grandstand meets the distinctive outfield bleachers with a delicate touch at each corner. It's a design which does not make any practical sense, but still really sings. The scale of the building is such that it never overwhelms, and the neighborhood is like nothing anywhere else. These are some of the things that make Wrigley magical, and the Twins' new ballpark will not be -- is not designed to be -- in that vein. It's a bad comparison, regardless of how much the architects want to believe that's what they have created.
Though I still think it would be an exaggeration, a much more salient comparison would be to Ebbets Field or even Forbes Field, which crammed distinctive but inelegant designs into small spaces and became beloved for their visual quirkiness. Those parks developed organically over decades, but there's nothing saying that the same thing can't be designed in. In fact, that's what I think I'm seeing in these drawings.
Right now, elegant is not a word I would use to describe this design, nor would I use bold. But I would say clever or efficient, as well as evolutionary (not revolutionary) and quirky and even cozy.
In the Strib today, Linda Mack is quoted as saying, "If Frank Lloyd Wright designed a ballpark, this might be close." She was, perhaps, referring to some of the vaguely Prairie-style elements of the facade. But I don't exactly agree, because Wright was all about balance and integration and harmony of disparate elements as well as harmony with the natural aspects of the site. His familiar visual style was not just about looks. It always flowed from deeply held principles about the connection of humans to their surroundings.
Wright's Marin County Hall of Justice, San Rafael, California (1959)
What remains to be fully realized in this design is the totality of those connections. In other words, it's just too soon to say whether this place will be as comfortable as it looks at first glance, or whether it will rise to the level of great architecture. My inclination is still to say that it has that potential.
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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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
An arch under construction.
That is the gun-metal gray wall of The Stadium just beyond the elevated tracks.
We'll be packed into the first five rows of section 136. Hey, Wilson! I'm bringing my glove!
Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)
The entrance at Gate 3.
Home Plate Box, Section 111, Row 8 or 9-ish (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Legends Club seats in context (above the main concourse, below the suite level)
The pouring is taking place at the very bottom of this photo.
That's Jacque Jones looking up in awe at the Great Greenness.
The plate marker is just to the left.
Scoreboard as viewed from Fifth Street.
The service entrance area in left-center, now with bench seating
Here's what they do in April at Comerica Park
Balcony of the Town Ball Tavern.
Fun with section counting!
Directly above gate 6 "Oliva" on the Club level.
Here's the Northstar platform.
Section A, Row WC
Twins president Dave St. Peter presents his list of fan suggestions to the Ballpark Authority
A closer look at the grid on the Pro Shop.
This is the entrance behind home plate (not visible in the renderings which have been released). It shows that the upper deck is set back from the facade -- a very good thing if it remains in the final design.
The view from the corner of Ford Centre. (Feel free to tie up your boats here.)
Up close, this is what you'll see as you walk along.
In March, we were still only imagining baseball through those windows.
The view from our Loge Box
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
Roll-up metal doors visible at right.
Twins in HD on the big board
The parking bay structure is now clearly visible
That group was working on something very carefully, but I couldn't tell just what it was.
Three weeks ago this was a patch of scruffy trees. Now it's a patio. In case you were wondering, that's where I've been...
Just to the right, more ticket machines. These things are everywhere.
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.