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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
From last week, you can see the piers taking shape. I believe that the front row, visible here as just forms and reinforcing rods, is the front edge of the plaza.
Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)
Here's where the plaza will empty out around that skyway emergency exit tower at the corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street.
The scoreboard terminates the view on Fifth Street as seen from Hennepin
Through the windows of the Metropolitan Club you can see one of the displays of Met Stadium memorabilia.
I never think of Ron Jackson at all.
Not from Moose's tour, but it's an image you need to see. (Click to enlarge greatly.)
The right field overhang is in place, and the first base stands are starting to go in.
The Polo Grounds (left) and Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium)
(Click to enlarge.)
Concrete molds are being removed!
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
Concept drawing for the fan/player appreciation wall. (Click to enlarge.)
A scene repeated about a million times each game
The former Ford manufacturing plant (now Ford Centre).
Here's a closer look.
A seating bowl comes into focus. Note that the netting has been installed on the foul pole. (Field Box)
This mural is behind the staircase. The window looks onto the promenade, and the door goes to a kitchen.
In addition to the Pro Shop facade, you can see more gravel being laid before the final plaza surface is poured.
Life in the shadows
The Carew gate ticket windows have grown a small awning.
Dan Kenney provided this alternate shot of a walkway behind the view level
Sunday afternoon, WFTC-HD 720P
Notice the temporary railing extensions
Workers against green
The Lincoln Saltdogs (and a promotional Nerd)
The back row of seats in straight-away center. Note that, beyond those seats, you can see the planters (for flowers) on the front of the Left Field Bleachers.(Batters Eye)
This was actually taken from the top floor of the International Market Square.
One of the sweetest sights of the day -- the Dome, and only through passing bus windows.