Real Outdoor Baseball
August 22, 2010 1:15 AM
The look at the Legends Club is going to wait a day because, despite today's final score, I got some fun pictures at the ballpark this afternoon.
The sky was high.
Our tickets were out in the Grandstand, or should I say "on the surface of the sun".
Those two empty seats in the front row are where we started the game.
Despite being only 80 degrees at game time, the dew point (whatever happened to "relative humidity"?) had to be around 79, giving a "feels like" factor in direct sunshine somewhere around the same point where baseballs spontaneously combust.
Inexplicable bright yellow baseball amid the trees.
OK, perhaps I'm exaggerating just a little. Great problem. Seriously.
But we weren't the only fans who decided that standing behind three or four rows of people on the main concourse was preferable to sitting in pools of our own -- or our neighbor's -- sweat. (This I am definitely not exaggerating about.)
4th inning in the thinning crowd of the Grandstand.
4th inning in the nearly deserted Home Run Porch View Level in left.
Typical standing room crowd which started early and lasted the entire game.
Packed SRO beneath the notch.
But this is a long way of saying that the whole standing room thing has gotten completely out of hand. On the main concourse, we couldn't find a single spot where we could stand even in the second row of people and see any part of the infield.
We eventually abandoned the attempt on the main concourse and retreated to the upper concourse.
Spaces at the rails were nominally easier to find up there, but something about these views has changed.
Typical SRO view upstairs.
I had to hold the camera as far over my head as I could to get this shot, in which the infield is finally visible. It's a spot made for your average Timberwolves player.
So I noticed a pattern that I had not discerned earlier. When standing room is directly behind the standard seating, it's great. When it is set back by a row of accessible seating, it's decidedly less great.
In addition, the Twins have done a great thing by adding painted blue lines to indicate where the accessible seating area ends. (Michael Sack of Two Men On alerted me to this change a couple of weeks ago, and I promised him I'd get a picture. Click the link for an interesting interview with Gardy.)
The blue line now indicates where the back of the accessible seating ends and standing room begins.
I wish I had better notes on the subject, and I don't have time to ask the question of someone who would know for sure, but I think rails have been added behind accessible seating where there were none when the season started. (I also remember reading somewhere that they were going to do this, though I can't find the link now, of course.)
In other words, in the SRO views pictured above, I think it used to be possible to stand much closer to the back of the accessible seats, and therefore get a better -- i.e. complete -- view of the playing field.
Michael told me that he'd heard about complaints from people in accessible seating that they were feeling crowded by those standing behind them, and the blue lines are a simple and clever solution to that.
It's really a necessary and great improvement for the accessible seating. I'm not complaining about that. But I think it has fundamentally changed the value of the SRO areas just off the concourses.
Even if that isn't the reason for the change in view that I noticed today, there's no question that SRO options have now been discovered by just about everybody in the place, and it has become much harder for people like me -- i.e. the short -- to find a suitable place to stand. Ultimately, we kind of lost track of the game for not being able to see it. So much for the much-ballyhooed 360-degree view of the field from the concourses...
Eventually, however, we made our way around to those abandoned seats in the upper deck out in left and, in addition to being able to see the action again, we discovered something wonderful:
5:45 PM, section 327, row 9, standing: sunshine.
5:45 PM, section 327, row 9, sitting: shade.
The shadow of the admin building begins to reclaim these seats as the afternoon wears on. In fact, this is the first part of the outfield seating which goes back into shadow after being in direct sunshine.
And, contrary to my original estimation, the big board is still a very useful source of information even from up there. (As an aside, I saw only advertising and out-of-town scores on the big board embedded in the right-center wall. No replays.)
Big board, as viewed from section 327, row 9.
As the game wore on, and the score became gradually more lopsided, and the hometown team began to look like they were laboring (I think this was the slowest moving game I've seen this season), I shifted into simple enjoyment of the ambiance mode. As always, there were lots of interesting sights.
Near the end of the Angels' 4-run second inning.
The flowers don't have quite the fullness depicted in the original sketches (where they were positively overflowing), but they are quite lovely -- a great, subtle touch. And that's probably a very challenging place to grow anything.
He'll always be a fan favorite, but did you know that he's making $18.5 million this year? The Twins' entire outfield today, combined, makes $7.45 million.
In interviews in the past couple of days, Torii has taken partial credit for getting TF built. Does he deserve it? Yep. At least I think so.
Seventh inning sing-along.
Denard Span ready, in a swoop of sunlight.
The shade of the canopy gives way to a brief shaft of light. It would do the same again a short while later when the sun passed through that tiny open sliver between the View and Terrace levels.
For the final few outs, I was sitting in the Left Field Bleachers for the first time. Folks had started abandoning the proceedings, so there was lots of extra room. It was pretty comfortable, though I wondered how roomy it would be if everyone had stayed. The view was great.
It immediately reminded me of this one spot near my house in Powderhorn Park, where you can often see a game in progress. The view is strikingly similar.
The Little League World Series, also being played this afternoon, sprang to mind. Clips from those games are such happy sights.
This amazing game of baseball has many shades, doesn't it? Say what you want about any other sport, but nothing else occupies the same spot in our collective psyche as the Great Game. It scratches an itch in the soul and mind which is unique.
Among other things, it sparks that little place where, no matter what happened today, you know there is a game tomorrow, though obviously some days are easier than others.
His body language might as well be the box score.
After the game, a long parade of people came up to take pictures of themselves, and since I'd decided to just sit for a while and watch the place empty out, I was drawn into service taking those pictures.
Lots of self-portraits were taken here after the final out.
As usual, security guards took up posts ringing the grass, lest someone leap out of the stands for a stroll. Their presence is a concession to the modern game, I know, but it's hard to get too deep into a pastoral mood while they are there.
So I was a little surprised when, after 10 minutes or so, they moved off, and there was simply the unobstructed green grass. Then, all around the perimeter of the park, the self-portrait frenzy also gradually subsided.
But I noticed that people were still hanging around. Lots of people. Way more than might be, say, waiting for a train, or a parking ramp to let out.
What are they doing? I wondered. They're just sitting around. Watching the grass grow, or the other fans, or the grounds crew which had started watering down the infield dirt and warning tracks. Watching the shadow of the canopy elongate so slowly, until it finally cloaked the whole playing field. Finishing beers and scorecards. Listening to the music, and the little conversations everywhere. Laughing out loud, despite a rather unfunny final score.
Why are they doing that? Wait -- why am I? There's the answer, I suppose.
I asked an usher how long she would wait before starting to shoo people out. "I'm about ready to start," she replied with a dry smile.
I took my time, but started moving toward the stairs.
The walk back to my car was casual, slow, cool. Conversations bubbled out of smiling faces sitting at tables set on sidewalks all along the way.
The sun was no longer any sort of annoyance, and with it now at my back, my mind was free to pick through the salty detritus of a great day at the ballpark.
I think we'll resume the tour of places tomorrow. Thanks for including this site in your day.
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This page was last modified on August 22, 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
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Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Also from the B ramp entrance off of Third, a look up at the tiny crack between ballpark and parking ramp
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 past is the future. Seriously.
Compare this picture, from the open house in March, with the one above and you'll see that some furniture reconfiguration has taken place.
The heretofore unseen north facade (click to enlarge). Does it look like a ballpark? And what's with the bamboo?
From behind the wind veil
Those little oval additions are positively laughable!
Concourse ceilings (from the Ballpark Authority's May update)
Oh no! Beach ball! But click to enlarge so you can see the wide range of expressions on people's faces. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
Still some work to be done on the canopy.
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.
(Click to enlarge.)
Here's one big problem with a retractable roof: completely terrible seating in left. These scant few seats would have been tucked under the track. No sunshine, no open concourse, it was a terribly kludgy idea. With some hindsight, it's very clear that adding a retractable roof on this small site would have required compromises which would have just been too extensive to tolerate. Without it, the design was free to grow into something much more memorable.
A timeline of design and construction of the ballpark. (Click to enlarge. Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
5:45 PM, section 327, row 9, sitting: shade.
Target HQ main entrance. Ballpark resemblance? (Inset.)
Photo by Jared Wieseler
Detail of Entry Plaza #4 (north entry from Fifth Street)
Believe it or not, the actual outfield wall will be about where this fence is now!
Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.
Another B ramp glimpse (don't loiter here!)
Earl Santee, principle architect for HOK Sport, presents some concepts while Mike Opat listens
They can put a camera just about anywhere. (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
Concept drawing for the fan/player appreciation wall. (Click to enlarge.)
I was surprised at how close those upper deck seats seem. From the plaza, you feel like you can reach out and touch them. It really adds to the impression of overall compactness.
An overview of the model display.
Looking north (toward Fifth Street and the LRT station).
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures