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.
"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.
Lunch break at the top spot. (Grandstand)
The right field foul pole seen against a backdrop of Butler Square (itself a site of great significance in the history of professional baseball in Minneapolis)
The Hennepin Grille appears to feature chicken, brats, and fries.
Here's a correction: The LRT platform will actually be able to load outbound trains from both sides.
Target HQ main entrance. Ballpark resemblance? (Inset.)
This looks up Fifth Street (LRT train visible in the distance). This bridge is also being partially rebuilt (see next photo).
"Original" or "Dinger" Dog
Carew atrium menu part 2
Now looking north, the tracks emerge from beneath Seventh Street as freight tracks only. The Northstar line ends at the northwest corner of the ballpark. One day, however, you can bet that other passenger trains will approach from the southwest metro on these tracks -- if our legislators are smart and persistent, that is.
Hubert's remains the only sports bar within site of the Dome after 28 years of its existence. It's a cautionary tale.
Mystery door on Seventh Street...
How many times did we water down our field as kids? More times than we played games, that's for sure!
The county of my birth!
I'll admit that this makes me nervous. It's pretty easy to step into the path of a train (which is true at various points along the line, but still...)
Off-topic, but this gigantic, cool, retro sign is just across the street from S&CH. Why? I don't know. Might look nice on top of one of those municipal parking ramps...
The Target Field grass, it turns out, will be green. (This is a photo representing the concept of grass only. The actual Target Field grass apparently will not contain dirt patches, weeds, or dandelions. Imagine that -- if you can!)
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.