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Data Proves a Ballpark Roof Would Be a Waste

June 15, 2006 12:54 AM

I'm happy to say that this is one debate which can probably be put to rest. This is not to say there won't be detractors. Of course, there will. And while I'm semi-sympathetic, I'm now firmly against the notion of adding a roof to our new ballpark.

This is strictly based on a little bit of weather and postponement research.

Data on postponements and weather-related delays is rather difficult to come by. As much as I respect, they have nothing on the subject, but do promise that it will be added to their "schedule" database over time. (Don't take this as a criticism of their work. Far from it. They have done amazing things to make baseball data easily accessible to anyone interested in research. This is one of the very few holes in their data which will, no doubt, one day be plugged.)

The best (and only, that I know of) place to find the data is on the individual team web sites, which carry schedules back several years. They show each game as it was originally scheduled and indicate either a final score or "PPD" meaning the game was either not played or not finished. Occasionally, they indicate ties where a game was cancelled before being completed.

So I started with 13 ballparks without roofs in places which are somewhat similar in climate, leaving out California, Texas, and Florida. Then I looked at the period from April 2004 to May 2006.

The table shows the parks with their total postponements over the period (which I'm assuming are all weather-related).

You'll see a total of 65 postponed games over two full seasons plus two months. During that same period, these parks hosted a total of approximately 2457 games, for an insanely low postponement rate of 2.6%.

This does not consider late starts, delays during a game, or extremes of temperature. I'll certainly look into this if I can find a good source for the data.

So there's nothing here about the comfort factor for the fans, nor does it say anything about how bad weather affects walk-up ticket sales (it likely has minimal effect on season ticket sales). Nor does it touch how conditions affect the quality of play. I'll leave those for others to investigate.

But on 97.4% of the days that people went out to the ballparks, a game was ultimately begun and completed. That's pretty amazing. I would have guessed that more games were cancelled, but I would have been very wrong.

Still, no other market has weather conditions quite as extreme as we do (I think this is true). We will, after all, have the ballpark farthest north without a roof. So there is more to be examined.

Last year I put together some weather information for the 2004 season, and counted 12 days on which a rainout was possible, only eight of which could be considered a "likely" rainout. This falls squarely in line with Tom Mee's quotes to the Star Tribune:

Tom Mee, the Twins' official scorer, has been with the club since it moved to Minnesota. He said grim weather was more memorable because it forced the team to reschedule games.

Mee remembers a summer day when the outfield light standards bent and swayed while a tornado was skipping nearby; an early spring game played under protest by the Yankees because the game-time temperature was 31 degrees (the Yankees won and dropped the protest, Mee said), and a day in 1965 when three players who lived in Burnsville had to be delivered to the stadium by helicopter from their homes across the flooded Minnesota River.

On Sept. 20, 1965 -- a mere six days before they would clinch their first American League pennant -- the Twins drew only 537 people to a makeup game in the rain with the Kansas City A's; it was their lowest attendance ever.

Plow the snow, play ball!

"For one opening day, in our first or second year, we had to plow the snow off the field," Mee said. "We delayed the opener for an hour or so, to let the field dry off." Indeed, Opening Day of 1962 brought a high temperature of 34 degrees with an official snow cover of 2 inches.

But Mee also recalled that there were some splendid mid-April home openers at the old Metropolitan Stadium, the two warmest coming back to back in 1976 (a 78-degree high) and 1977 (79 degrees).

Four postponements in 81 games is a 5% postponement rate, a bit higher than the MLB average, but that is to be expected here.

Miller Park: Big Gymnasium

Miller Park: Gymnasium with skylight (Source: RP)

But it's hard to claim that a 5% postponement rate is sufficient to justify spending another year and $150 million to accommodate. This is especially true when, as noted in the comments left about yesterday's article, it's nigh on impossible to design a roofed stadium which feels like an outdoor stadium. The support track and other mechanicals -- not to mention the retracted yet still visible roof itself -- effectively boxes the park in and gives an enclosed feeling which defeats the purpose of opening it at all.

This effect is especially pronounced at Miller Park, where, even with the roof open, it still feels like a big gymnasium with a skylight. There's nothing "outdoor" about that park at all.

This is an issue which is bound to raise its head again, but now we can be prepared -- aremed with statistics -- to fend off those arguments.


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Greetings from a Twins fan. I hope the Twins build just two decks of seats in their new venue. This layout seems like a neat opportunity to keep fans close to the game, possibly closer than they would be with three or four decks. Plus, in some ways it seems easier and more basic to build two decks. The Twins want 42,000 seats. Many double-decked venues have held that number or more.

I also recommend a cantilevered roof with columns and beams. Such a roof covers fans in the upper deck, with no need for poles that sit in front of seats. Columns and beams from the bottom of the roof and the stadium's outside play a part in the covering. Kauffman Stadium and RFK Stadium are some venues with this kind of roof. Looking at those roofs, I think you can appreciate their successful format and feel a special mystique about gameday, as many fans will be in the venue to cheer for their team. The Twins' new stadium can display that mystique with the exact same kind of roof. Other technology can give unobstructed cover to fans in the lower deck, too.

These designs can establish an iconic venue for baseball and for Minnesota. I am confident in this. Lastly, the Twin Cities area includes a dynamic quality of life and a beautiful skyline in Minneapolis. I hope the Twins make a statement by building an impressive ballpark. Thanks for your time.


Posted on June 18, 2006 at 11:37 AM by Christopher Kassulke Highlight this comment 1

I'm a displaced Twins fan living in the St. Louis area. In fifteen years, the number of non-interleague games I've attended here can be counted on one hand. Thank God that Minnesota doesn't have the heat/humidity that we do here for 3 1/2 months every year. btw, did they ever call any games at the old Met due to mosquitoes?

Posted on June 18, 2006 at 8:22 PM by dlarso01 Highlight this comment 2

Umm. It's not a matter of how many games are canceled or delayed. That's not thinking through all the possibilities.
How many have rain at some point during the game. Not enough to delay, but you have to sit in it to watch the games. How many games is it extremely hot and humid, so that you can't sit there with your young kids or grandparents for 4 hours. How many days is it cold and windy in April, May, Sept and Oct? Compare that to how many days it's Sunny and 75.
When you fork out some pretty decent cash to watch a game, and have bought the tickets in advance (season tickets), you can't pick the nice days for your games.
I am looking foward to those nice days and being outside, but I am dreading those other days, and having to put up with the drizzle, cold weather (early/late season), extremely hot weather (mid-season), etc. So, think of the other possibilities. Packing raincoats for the family, just in case. Bringing umbrellas for rain, or for sun. If your not bringing them, think of sitting behind someone who did.
As we head into the best part of the year in MN, don't let that lull you into thinking that the other 3-4 months are the same.
We should have a retractable roof so that the whole season is enjoyable for the whole family.

Posted on June 19, 2006 at 09:12 AM by tk Highlight this comment 3


I think it is the season ticket holders who have the biggest stake in the roof question. For me, I can pick and choose which games I go to based, at least in part, on the weather.

I'm curious what other season ticket holders have to say on the matter. -- Rick

Posted on June 19, 2006 at 2:21 PM by Rick 4

Amazing! Jacobs Field and Comerica are "roof-ready"?! I believe it shows that a roof is not needed. If it was, Jacobs Field would for sure have one by now.

Posted on June 19, 2006 at 4:35 PM by JC Highlight this comment 5

Of course the Minneapolis weather fluctuates more than most cities, and there will be plenty of uncomfortable days/nights in the new park, but Rick is spot's Minnesota, buck up and bring a sweatshirt/blanket/umbrella/sunscreen or anything that will make the less desirable conditions more comfortable.

This is the state that watches local hockey in arenas such as Minnehaha where the temperature is warmer outside, even in January. A state that always had home field advantage because of weather and not speakers every football season when the Vikes played at the Met.

I live in LA where it's 80 and sunny almost everyday. That being said, the people here are spoiled and wusses when it comes to the weather. If it rains for two days in a row, people complain and the number of traffic accidents triple. In Minny that's what you sign up for when you move there and most people make the best of it. Men's Health recently reported that Minnepolis has the highest % of outdoor's part of the culture.

Let's not forget that the location of this park is in one of the most concentrated entertainment districts in the country. Season ticket holders or casual park attendees can always walk a few blocks to the many bars, clubs, restaurants, and mom & pop shops in the Warehouse District and Block E while the storm passes.

Last, I am confident that the new park will be the new "it" place in the Twin Cities, similar to what the Xcel Center has been in St. Paul. I just believe that a majority of fans won't care about poor weather once in awhile.

Posted on June 20, 2006 at 03:59 AM by CG Highlight this comment 6


By your standards -- cold, rain, hot, humid -- we may never have the roof open! It might prove to be more of a crutch than a helpful amenity.

As for your argument that poor weather will make it difficult to "sit there with your young kids or grandparents for 4 hours" -- it's already difficult to sit with young kid and old people for 4 hours! Between bathroom trips, concessions trips, short attention spans, and now video games in the concourses, a family at a ballgame is hardly static regardless of the weather.

Posted on June 20, 2006 at 2:00 PM by spycake Highlight this comment 7

Hi! How r u?
nice site!

Posted on April 28, 2007 at 12:39 PM by shadowman Highlight this comment 8

Your photo of Miller Park does not give it justice. Baseball, unlike football, is a sport to be enjoyed in a comfortable environment. It is an extreme convenience to be able to go to a game at Miller Park with an absolute assurance of comfort and, usually, plenty of exposure to the outdoors.

And, when the weather is bad, it is an extremely fitting experience to go to an OUTDOOR football game at either Lambau Field or Soldier Field.

What strikes me most ironic about sports in Minnesota is that the wimpy Vikings, and their wimpy fans, members of the original "Black and Blue" division, retreat to the comfort of indoor football. If there was ever a call for an outdoor stadium in Minnesota, it should be for football, not baseball. The Vikings could actually win a division title if that was the case.

Posted on June 17, 2007 at 6:29 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 9

I think you are wrong about Miller Park. It is a great venue for baseball. I have gone to more games in the last few years than all of the years they played "outside" in Milwaukee's County Stadium. Weather in Milwaukee is quite similar to the Mn. When it is below 50 they close the roof and make it much more comfortable for fans and the players. When it is open the breeze blows just as an open air stadium. We have to deal with the winds off Lake Michigan, which are quite cold in the spring and fall. But they don't close the roof just because the wind is cold. Once we get past the first month they only close the roof if it is raining during the game. You should push for a retractable roof, it's great!

Posted on April 2, 2008 at 10:31 AM by TS Highlight this comment 10


Posted on July 9, 2008 at 10:27 AM by DANIEL ESCOBEDO Highlight this comment 11

Tim if you... [oops, this comment went over the line and has been deleted]

Posted on November 12, 2008 at 3:32 PM by Minnesota Highlight this comment 12

2004 Gameday Weather Conditions

Data assembled from Weather Underground.

April 5, Indians - 70, S 10, overcast, possible rain delay
April 6, Indians - 63, NNW 9, partly cloudy
April 7, Indians - 54, WNW 29, scattered clouds

April 16, Royals - 65, SSE 11, rain, likely delayed start
April 17, Royals - 67, NE 13, mostly cloudy
April 18, Royals - 79, S 18, mostly cloudy

April 20, Tigers - 47, E 13, rain, likely rainout
April 21, Tigers - 56, NW 6, mostly cloudy
April 22, Tigers - 46, variable 4, partly cloudy

April 26, Blue Jays - 48, NW 14, mostly cloudy
April 27, Blue Jays - 59, SE 13, mostly cloudy
April 28, Blue Jays - 88, SW 16, mostly cloudy

April 30, Angels - 59, NW 18, mostly cloudy
May 1, Angels - 54, NNW 5, mostly cloudy
May 2, Angels - 49, N 7, mostly cloudy

May 11, Mariners - 75, SE 17, mostly cloudy
May 12, Mariners - 58, W 15, scattered clouds
May 13, Mariners - 42, NNW 13, overcast, likely delayed start

May 20, White Sox - 69, NNE 10, mostly cloudy
May 21, White Sox - 56, ENE 12, overcast, possible rain delay late
May 22, White Sox - 54, N 9, overcast, possible rain delay
May 23, White Sox - 48, NNE 15, rain, likely rainout

May 31, Devil Rays - 66, WSW 20, mostly cloudy, likely rainout
June 1, Devil Rays - 56, N 8, overcast, likely delayed start, possible rainout
June 2, Devil Rays - 68, N 9, scattered clouds
June 3, Devil Rays - 69, E 7, clear

June 4, Tigers - 75, ESE 6, mostly cloudy
June 5, Tigers - 70, S 9, overcast
June 6, Tigers - 74, E 8, partly cloudy

June 8, Mets - 70, NNE 10, light rain, likely rainout
June 9, Mets - 64, NNE 12, mostly cloudy
June 10, Mets - 60, E 12, light drizzle, likely rain delay, possible rainout

June 11, Phillies - 62, E 10, thunderstorms and rain, likely rainout
June 12, Phillies - 79, S 8, mostly cloudy, likely rainout
June 13, Phillies - 73, SW 10, mostly cloudy

June 25, Brewers - 67, NW 9, mostly cloudy
June 26, Brewers - 70, W 12, mostly cloudy
June 27, Brewers - 56, E 5, overcast, possible delayed start

June 29, White Sox - 82, W 5, partly cloudy
June 30, White Sox - 75, SW 12, mostly cloudy, likely delayed start, possible rain out
July 1, White Sox - 75, ENE 8, mostly cloudy

July 5, Royals - 70, N 9, overcast, possible delay late
July 6, Royals - 59, NNE 10, rain, likely rainout
July 7, Royals - 65, calm, mostly cloudy

July 8, Tigers - 75, E 9, scattered clouds
July 9, Tigers - 77, variable 5, scattered clouds
July 10, Tigers - 82, S 10, scattered clouds
July 11, Tigers - 77, WNW 13, mostly cloudy

July 21, Devil Rays - 91, WSW 12, scattered clouds, likely rain delay or rain out
July 22, Devil Rays - 74, NW 12, scattered clouds

July 30, Red Sox - 65, N 9, overcast
July 31, Red Sox - 78, S 8, mostly cloudy
August 1, Red Sox - 80, WSW 8, scattered clouds

August 3, Angels - 72, NNE 6, mostly cloudy
August 4, Angels - 73, N 12, scattered clouds
August 5, Angels - 73, N 5, scattered clouds

August 6, Athletics - 76, S 9, mostly cloudy
August 7, Athletics - 70, SSE 15, overcast
August 8, Athletics - 79, SSW 8, mostly cloudy
August 9, Athletics - 69, W 12, light rain, likely delayed start

August 17, Yankees - 74, WSW 7, mostly cloudy
August 18, Yankees - 65, WNW 17, scattered clouds
August 19, Yankees - 70, WSW 11, scattered clouds

August 20, Indians - 63, NW 10, clear
August 21, Indians - 64, SW 10, partly cloudy
August 22, Indians - 78, SW 13, clear

August 31, Rangers - 78, S 8, mostly cloudy
September 1, Rangers - 83, ESE 5, partly cloudy
September 2, Rangers - 83, S 14, clear

September 3, Royals - 81, S 13, partly cloudy
September 4, Royals - 80, S 14, clear
September 5, Royals - 78, SSE 9, overcast, possible rain delay late

September 14, White Sox - 70, ENE 4, mostly cloudy, likely rainout
September 15, White Sox - 60, W 15, overcast, likely rain delay
September 16, White Sox - 64, S 7, scattered clouds

September 17, Orioles - 68, S 8, overcast
September 18, Orioles - 71, ESE 10, partly cloudy
September 19, Orioles - 80, SSE 12, partly cloudy

October 1, Indians - 41, WNW 8, scattered clouds
October 2, Indians - 48, W 10, clear
October 3, Indians - 66, SW 12, partly cloudy

October 8, Yankees (ALDS Game 3) - 59, WSW 7, clear
October 9, Yankees (ALDS Game 4) - 55, calm, partly cloudy

Of 83 scheduled games, a maximum of 22 (or 27%) could have been impacted by rain. Of those, 12 were possible to result in cancellation or postponement.

These are conditions at game time, but I also considered data from a few hours before the game and during the approximately 3 hours when the game was being played. It's hard to know exactly how hard the rain was falling, so these can only be guesses at what umpires might have decided. In fact, the teams and the umpires want the game to be played, so they likely would have cancelled less games than it may at first appear.


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Greetings from Cleveland... As a fellow crazy-weather citizen, I must disagree with the author on one point. Yes, only 2.4% of games were cancelled by crazy April weather, but many games are also affected by cold, rain and/or snow that never shows up in the box score. I'm certainly not bucking for a roof on the former Jacobs Field here, but the comfort level does come into play when the conditions are bad (as they often are in April).

Posted on March 20, 2008 at 08:18 AM by sr Highlight this comment 1

Game Time: 7pm. Temp. 48. 8pm 42. 9pm 38 10pm 34.

Do you REALLY want to sit and watch a game in that climate?

Obviously you guys are building a stadia without a roof, but, the team makes money with butts in the seats buying $8 beer and $4 hotdogs, not watching it at home. You do what you want but ain't gonna be nobody there in April to May 20 and then in mid- late September.

Posted on May 9, 2008 at 7:53 PM by Joe in SC Highlight this comment 2

Miller park is hitting 3 million in attendance for the 3rd time this year. Attendance is consitantly over 2.5 million at miller park. People can drive from other parts of the state for a game knowing it will be played no matter what.

Thats a huge factor in buying tickets in advance and effects walk up for sure. Who want to sit and watch a game in april in 40 degree weather or worse yet drive for 2 hours to a game only for it to have rain delays etc.

Here in milwaukee we are extremely glad we have the roof. The newness of your stadium in minnesota will were off in the next few years and if the team isnt good you attendance will take a huge nose dive, especially in the early months of the season. Much more so then if your stadium at a retractable roof.

Posted on August 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM by Mark C Highlight this comment 3

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 3046 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.

Now, THIS is just some guy who appears to be hanging out on the LRT tracks talking to himself.

These two sections are within a few feet of one another.

Glare from the IDS never looked this sweet. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)

Knothole non-view #2

Go get 'em, boys!

Looking north (toward Fifth Street and the LRT station).

Artist at (very painstaking) work

The bases for the player statues have been recently upgraded.

Bassett Creek's original path (Source: Metropolitan Design Center)

Terrace Level

Also viewed from the B ramp, that's the upper deck in left field.

Looking up toward Seventh Street.

You write the caption...

Delmon Young getting warmed up

Harmon is visible (barely) at the very center of the crowd.

Also from the same lobby, other window, a view which will clearly disappear before too long...

Bassett Creek's path through the ballpark site (Source: Minneapolis Public Library)

"I've never seen them do that before," said a Metropolitan Club waiter as I snapped this picture.

Photo by Tyler Wycoff


The base of the old Met Stadium flagpole. (The plaque refers to the "Flame of Freedom" and not the origin of the pole.)

Love the lighted, translucent panel

There's the opening through which the groundskeeping equipment will emerge (and disappear).

The entrances are all the way around on the other side.

This is also the promenade, where the first indications of the final texture of the walkway can be seen. This layer of concrete is going on top of gravel (as has been done over on the plaza).

Skyline to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the outfield with you... (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.

Looking from the middle of the third base side back toward the entry door

TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)

A sharp-eyed reader caught me trying to make the best of a bad situation with my SP-570UZ on Sunday afternoon

New Downtown Minneapolis Public Library (Source: RP)

Mauer steps in for the first time.


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

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