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Rooftop Visions

August 30, 2008 3:02 PM

Every city needs some big thinkers. Imaginers. Dreamers.

Without such people, cities would be very bland places -- and maybe couldn't even exist at all. Where would Minneapolis be if no one had ever imagined the impossible task of taming the Falls of St. Anthony to saw logs and grind wheat into flour? Keep in mind that those falls, which are still formidable today even shielded by a concrete apron, were completely wild when the first mills were built. Somebody had to wade out into that current and dig. More importantly, somebody had to have the idea first.


The circulation ramp on Fifth Street is shaping up very quickly.

Think back a couple of decades to the Ghermezians. You remember those guys, right? They had this totally wacky idea to build the world's largest mall over the grave of Met Stadium. Everybody thought they were crazy, or con artists, or some combination. (It's now the largest tourist draw in the state.)

Big thinking always sounds crazy at first.

When the story of the Twins ballpark is written (by me, for release in time for Christmas of 2010!), there is one person who will get full credit for being the first to look at a rather homely surface parking lot and imagine a classic urban ballpark.

Bruce Lambrecht did just that in 1999, and then spent eight years trying to convince anyone who would listen that this wasn't just a good idea, it was a great one. Sure, he had a financial stake in the outcome, but that does not detract from the imagination it took to see baseball in the railroad cut between downtown and the northern neighborhoods.


Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.

Long ago, Bruce extended an invitation for me to come down and take some photos of the ballpark construction from the roof of the Minikahda building, which sits adjacent to the site across North Fifth Street. Earlier this week I finally got to take him up on his offer.

What I expected would be just a few minutes of introductions and picture-taking, was instead a fascinating conversation covering much of the long history of the idea for the ballpark, complete with some heretofore unknown details of the land sale negotiations.

(I'm not going to drag that subject up again, but I will admit that I heard some things which, had I known them at the time, would have changed my tune substantially. Considering the fact that I was rough on Bruce and his investor group during the height of that episode, he was a most gracious and generous host. Victoria and I had a great time.)

Bruce was willing to take credit only for the initial idea and the energy behind getting it out. He was quite eager to give credit to all kinds of other people for helping it become reality: architects, financial and real estate types, and even media people -- most working for nothing. He credits a long list of sometimes reluctant collaborators with adding bits and pieces to the idea, looking for and squashing potentially fatal flaws, and getting the idea to the people who could make it a reality. He also credits Shane over at The Greet Machine with providing the key piece, without which the whole thing could not have gone forward: the legislative voting record.

We stood in the sun on that roof for about an hour (you can even see us on the web cam!), chatting not just about the past, but about the future of the neighborhood. The Minikahda building, for example, could be extended upward quite a long way as residential space. Though the current real estate market is rather cold, as soon as the warming starts, Bruce expects to see lots of activity on those surface lots between the park and Washington Avenue. Hines, the real estate company, owns options on a lot of the land and buildings around there. They fully intend to make the most of the space, though the timing will have to depend on the market.


Victoria asked Bruce point-blank why he did the whole thing. Was it just a real estate deal? He didn't shy away from the financial aspects, but he started talking about Harmon Killebrew and the classic Twins teams of the 1960s. He talked about the road trips that he took with his family to see all the major league parks as research. He talked about phoning up Philip Bess (author of City Baseball Magic, the blueprint rejected by the White Sox when they built New Comiskey) for advice and support (alas, not forthcoming: "Buy my book."). He talked about bothering Earl Santee at HOK (who is now the lead architect on the project) until he would send somebody up to at least take a look at the site. That's how the ball really got rolling.


Another piece of the neighborhood puzzle: the Northstar platform.

A lot of people had to get on this bandwagon before the project could happen, but there's no question that Bruce was driving that wagon right up until the deal was done in St. Paul. That certainly qualifies as Big Thinking.

If he feels any bitterness toward the team or Hennepin County for how everything played out, it was not evident. He seemed just as excited about outdoor baseball as the rest of us. And he seemed similarly excited about the prospect of creating Minneapolis' "88th neighborhood" in that previously overlooked strip of land.

He does lament the fact that once the park is complete, all he will see from his rooftop is the back of the scoreboard. (He doesn't think that was an intentional slight.) Still, it sounds like he's planning a big rooftop party on opening day just the same. And who knows? Maybe one day there will be a few more floors on that building which will allow for a better view.

As we were leaving, he expressed his support for this web site, and made arrangements for me to get more pictures from his roof at a later date. I thanked him, not just for his time on that beautiful, sunny afternoon rooftop, but for hatching the idea and helping it happen.


The splendid view from the roof of the Minikahda building. (Click to enlarge greatly.)


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how does that old saying go again? "all is well that ends well".

i guess that is how most of us should try and look at it when it comes to all of the stuff that happened with the land deal negotiations, etc. it was kind of touch and go for a while, but in the end the ballpark moved forward.

that being said. make sure all of us continue to keep the pressure on the land developers, local politicans, etc. to make sure that the surrounding north loop neighborhood around the ballpark is developed and rebuilt to the levels it should be. then my friends this will be a jewel of a stadium in mlb's cap.


Posted on August 30, 2008 at 3:46 PM by Betaband Highlight this comment 1

Saying GO GOPHERS! is like saying GO LIONS! or GO ROYALS! or GO RAYS! (before this year) I wish I could watch them but they are so bad and have been my whole life.

Posted on August 30, 2008 at 8:50 PM by A-Lew Highlight this comment 2

Nathan is doing his best to make this road trip feel even longer. WOW! What is he doing right now!! He had no chance tonight.

Posted on August 30, 2008 at 10:43 PM by Locker Highlight this comment 3

Another solid performance by our starting pitcher was wasted tonight resulting in another tough loss...I hate to be critical but with the exception of our starting pitching, this team is too inconsisent as far as hitting, fielding, and relief pitching goes.

The White Sox have given the Twins plenty of chances to run away with the division, but yet the Twins can't play consistent enough to take advantage. We still have plenty of baseball remaining, but the Twins better start playing more consistently, especially on the road, if they want to win the division.

Posted on August 30, 2008 at 10:56 PM by Mike - Plymouth Highlight this comment 4

if, in april, you told me the twins would be a 1/2 game out of first in late august, i would've been thrilled. perspective time: the twins are building toward 2010. they are well above their forecasted pace. drink it in while it's still cold, as they say.

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 12:35 AM by yeahklye Highlight this comment 5

City Baseball Magic just purchased...thanks for that great post Rick. I'd love to hear Lambrect's details of the land negotiation if you aren't sworn to secrecy. Ps: I wouldn't dis the gophs too much today considering they're the only Minnesota team to win today!

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 12:38 AM by John K Highlight this comment 6

Just to add a little insight to who Bruce Lambrecht is....

When I first met Bruce, it was in the earlier part of August 2007. I was lying in a bed at HCMC, recovering from a slew of injuries I sustained from the I-35W bridge collapse: severed colon, broken feet and arm, broken jaw, facial injuries that required two surgeries, etc. My mom, an elementary school teacher, worked for many years with Bruce's sister-in-law in New Ulm. When my mother found out on Aug. 2 that I had been on the bridge, she ran up to the Cities with no suitcase, no place to stay, nothing. Bruce's sister-in-law called Bruce to let him know my mom was up here. Though they had only met once or twice, he opened up his home so she had a place to stay, brought her food, and used any connections he had to get my family help from Red Cross, Hennepin County and anyone else. Because of the severity of my injuries, my mom had no idea of the process we'd need to go through. Bruce helped her find that path. Over the next two months, Bruce routinely visited me in the hospital and then later as I recovered at home. His concern was genuine and he never sought anything in return. Three weeks ago, Bruce and his sons attended my wedding up on the North Shore, and I was elated to have him there, as he has been a big part of my recovery. I'm very happy to call him my friend. - Garrett Ebling

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 09:01 AM by Garrett Highlight this comment 7

John K your right they won but look who they beat seriously northern illinois and it came down to a gutsy call on 4th down. I wount respect the gophers until there in there new stadium and brewster has all of his recruits and hopefully have a winning season in the big ten.

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 11:28 AM by A-Lew Highlight this comment 8

A-Lew wrote: "i wount respect the gophers until there in there new stadium and brewster has all of his recruits and hopefully have a winning season in the big ten."

well, a-lew i "won't" respect you until you learn how to spell "won't". ha! ha! just teasing.

like i said before. GO GOPHERS!

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 7:28 PM by Betaband Highlight this comment 9

I know it was red squiggly lined but I didn't care. It just pisses me off when people say the Vikings are an embarrassment to our state when really it's the Gophers. I wish I could be a fan of them but it is tough and I hate college playoffs the whole bowl games, its so stupid. It has to be a playoff format.

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 8:01 PM by A-Lew Highlight this comment 10

A-Lew: those sure a lot of feelings floating around in your head! :-)

feel however you want, but i am certainly not embarrassed to root for a college football team like the gophers who have 6 national championships to their record (as well as 18 big ten titles).

they more national championships than wisconsin (0), iowa (0), michigan state, illinois, northwestern (0), purdue (0), indiana (0), penn state, miami, lsu, cal, texas, georgia, florida, florida state, tenn, virginia tech, nebraska, pitt, etc, etc, etc.

i don't care that it was a while ago. all of those other teams named with fewer NC's have all been playing just about as long as minnesota. don't get me wrong i am critical of the gophers when things aren't going well, but at least historically you have to give the program credit where credit is due.

anyways, nice win by the twins today. needed that one. was hoping the red sox couldn't take another from the white sox, but it wasn't to be.

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 8:31 PM by Betaband Highlight this comment 11

The Gophers will get things turned around...You need to give them a few years under Brewster. It's not like the NFL where it's a "win now league" where you can go from 5-11 one year to 13-3 the next year via draft and free agency and the overall competitiveness.

College football is all about recruiting. If the Gophers can keep the top Minnesota athletes in Minnesota, they should be fine. The problem is we let too many in-state athletes leave for Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa, etc. We must keep our own guys in state! TCF Bank stadium will definitely be a great addition to the program and hopefully that will be a big influence for potential in-state recruits to stay at home. Even though Michigan and Ohio State are big-time college programs, there is no reason why the Gophers can't compete with Wisconsin and Iowa.

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 9:24 PM by Gopher Fan Highlight this comment 12

Dear Garrett,

Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I'll pray for the complete recovery of you and all of the other victims of the tragic event from last summer (I'm sure a strong and brave person like you is alright anyways). This world would be a better place if we had more people like Bruce.

Thanks for the update on the new ballpark Rick!

Posted on September 1, 2008 at 12:54 AM by Andy T Highlight this comment 13

Hi Rick,

Not sure if this been finalized yet, but has there been any word on the solid green seats as being the final decision for the new ballpark? I was at the state fair last week and took the virtual tour - I think unless the ballpark is sold out in the outfield, it will look kitsch and outdated. I mean, is there really a reason why the seats are green apart from the fact that they are trying to take the imagery as far away as possible from the Metrodome?

I favor one of two options. Either :
1. Have a variety of seat colors: Whether it is two or three complementary colors or various hues of the same color, this actually looks quite good. Many cricket grounds around the world do it as, like baseball, they often feature stadiums that are not filled to capacity and have to avoid the ugliness of solid blocks of solid color. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is that why at the Metrodome these last few years they hang the pictures of the retired jersey numbers deep in center field.

2. Create an iconic pattern with the seat colors: Wether it is the "TC" logo, the "M" logo worn on the road hats, The "Twins" word mark, or even retired numbers or player names, this will give the park a character and a uniqueness that others don't. Imagine father to son "We are sitting in the letter "E" of Killebrew, do you know who he was?"

Below are the links to various stadiums featuring both options.
Keep up the great work Rick.

Posted on September 2, 2008 at 1:07 PM by Charlie Quirk Highlight this comment 14

It's only September 3rd, But the team has officially collapsed. They have no killer instict.

Posted on September 3, 2008 at 9:47 PM by JohnF Highlight this comment 15

Met Center tried the multi-colored seat thing... i recall it looking ghastly.

I do like the idea of a TC logo in the seats in left field (but i think they are doing bleachers)

Posted on September 8, 2008 at 10:33 AM by CJ Highlight this comment 16

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Posted on May 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM by Pharmb716 Highlight this comment 17

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Posted on May 7, 2010 at 11:13 AM by Pharma853 Highlight this comment 18

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.

The lot within the lot.

Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)

I'm not sure why there's a wreath on Gate 3. (I quickly checked the headlines for any dreaded Killebrew news. Whew.) It looks to be in celebration, maybe of the move.

Lots of folks working behind those ticket windows

Peering through Gate 34

This is where you will put out your butts -- I mean enjoy some pretty flowers.

Checking out the bike racks on the promenade.

Looking up toward Sixth Street.

Plaza extension reaches toward First Avenue

Loading dock -- already in use!

Another piece of the neighborhood puzzle: the Northstar platform.

Center field seating

This is the staircase (ramp?) leading up to the trapezoid. Nice flagpole too. You'll be able to find me and Ben McEvers at the base of that flagpole on opening day in 2010!

Viewed from another angle, you can see that the bullpens now sit beneath the upper deck outfield seating.

The bases for the player statues have been recently upgraded.

Trees now line Seventh Street

Trees also have sprouted near the topiaries

Do you know who did this drawing? If so, please tell me so I can give them proper credit.

Better them than me

Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)

The Pro Shop.

Delmon Young getting warmed up

Chef stand and menu in the Carew atrium

This would have been the HERC side, though it's unclear just how far over the plant the retracted roof would have gone. My fear was always that they would have to shorten the track and more of the roof would have stayed over the ballpark. The only good retractable roof is one which disappears when not in use. I don't think they could have realistically created such a thing.

This looks toward the middle of the park. The third base side of the Legends Club is to the right up ahead, while the 573 Club is just barely visible at the end of the hallway. It extends to the left.

Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.

Beams connecting the plaza to the Target Center walkway

Crosswalk taking shape.

I meant to include this shot the other day. It's the new LRT bridge being built next to the remaining half of the Fifth Street bridge. The new half is almost TWICE the width of the portion torn down. And the other end runs right into a HERC administration building! (Click to see the view from nearly the same spot about 85 years ago.)

One of those funny little sections above the entrance stairs

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

The first completed mural

(Click to enlarge.)


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

Complete Bibliography

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