Wow, what a shock to the system yesterday must have been. I mean, one series you're playing in the great outdoors, on real grass, surrounded by limestone with nary an empty seat to be seen in any direction...
Not to mention that the opposing team is demoralized, listless, and appears at times to be looking around for the team bus.
Door to the visitor's clubhouse.
Path of quick escape.
The next day, you're playing under catwalks. On that horrible FieldTurf. Surrounded by cement and empty seats. Against a team that smells another pennant run in progress.
Suddenly, Target Field must seem a very long way away.
Is there a worse facility in the major leagues than Tropicana Field? ESPN says there are three venues with a worse overall fan experience, and only two (Miami and Oakland) when the stadium itself is isolated. But I'd be willing to debate that -- if only on the issue of the turf.
The Rays just have to be at the top of the list of clubs that really need a new facility. The Marlins have solved their stadium issue (yes, that thing rising in Miami is properly termed a "stadium"). And while Oakland certainly has issues, and definitely needs something, I don't think their park is quite as despicable as the Trop.
By the way, that list of clubs needing parks is pretty short these days. It goes something like this:
3. Blue Jays
From there you have to talk about the White Sox and Orioles, ballparks which aren't even 20 years old yet. I'm not saying they need to be replaced, but they would be next up on the list. This means that once the Marlins open their new park next year, we may not see another such opening for a decade or more. The Rays and A's are both famously stalled, and the Blue Jays may have some trouble making a case to replace such an iconic structure.
Several older parks are bypassed, having stepped onto the renovation path:
3. Dodger Stadium
The first two are so iconic that replacements are hard to imagine. Wrigley is more likely, though an in-place rebuild is really the most likely scenario -- essentially duplicating what has happened to Fenway, as you know.
The latter two are remarkably durable and serviceable "erector set" parks, of roughly the same class and vintage as Met Stadium, though obviously better preserved and refreshed through the years. Thinking about those two parks always makes me wonder how things might have turned out differently.
Memorabilia on display in the Metropolitan Club
Not that I'm complaining, of course.
In fact, I'm appreciating more and more the many ways in which Target Field provides a refresh on ballpark design by rereading a bunch of the ballpark survey books in my collection (scroll down and you'll see that the right-hand column now contains an updated bibliography, just in case you want to join me in ballpark geekness). It's all part of my full review of the park, currently a seven-part series that I hope to have finished before summer's end.
As a preview, consider the aforementioned Miami park, together with Nationals Park in Washington, as compared to Target Field. Those two parks are both incredibly huge, even bloated designs. The human scale is not just disrupted, it's alternately accosted and ignored.
Then consider the two new New York parks compared to TF. Each of them has been accused of being a mall-like monument to cash flow. Each has been accused of putting something other than the fan experience as a top priority. CitiField is especially problematic for the appearance of having been built for a different team (on opening day there was significantly more Dodgers history on display than Mets).
I finally found the corner of TF dedicated to the Senators. What a wonderful sight.
Franchise history before Minnesota. (Click to enlarge.)
But if this were all that set TF apart, it wouldn't be enough. Something new has been created in the resurrection of something old, and that's what I'm trying to put my finger on. The whole idea of Target Field is so different, that a new category of ballpark has been begun: it's nothing less than a revivalist movement.
Last Friday night I had the opportunity to do some real exploring of TF thanks to a very gracious host. I got to poke around in some places I hadn't yet seen, and even got to walk on the field for a short time during the pregame show.
While the boys are on the road, I want to share with you some of the many experiences I had and images I collected.
Thanks for stopping by today, and for keeping the discussion going as I continue working on detailed content and enhancements to the site.
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This page was last modified on August 3, 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 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Detail on the main gate, with Target Field sign
Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)
The equivalent spot on the model.
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)
First Avenue at left, bike parking area at lower right
This terrible picture shows the netting in place through a knothole on Fifth
Trees now line Seventh Street
Viewed from another angle, you can see that the bullpens now sit beneath the upper deck outfield seating.
Seating mound (seen from the B ramp)
Here's the Northstar platform.
Click to see the full-size image.
I love these upper neighborhoods.
Even today, throw a fastball to that guy at your own risk.
For executive entertaining
Print press box
The completed promenade
Of the players up there, only Bert does not have a gate with his number (28) on it at Target Field. You know, there is that door underneath the skywalk on Seventh Street between gates 14 and 29...
This is what will count as a knothole (actually, it's a gated entrance)
Also from the B ramp entrance off of Third, a look up at the tiny crack between ballpark and parking ramp
I think this promenade over the railroad tracks needs a name. How about the Halsey Hall Promenade? (Please do not throw cigar butts onto the tracks!)
Did you notice the flowers?
The view out Gate 6 "Oliva".
Trees also have sprouted near the topiaries
For reference, here's that spot on the model.
This is the LRT path looking from the ballpark site (behind me) toward downtown. The line currently ends about two blocks up this street. This bridge over I-394 is also being partially rebuilt as part of the ballpark project.
A mini-freeway! (Police action in progress...)
Sharing and Caring Hands, as viewed from the ballpark site about a block away. Note transaction in progress in the shadows.