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System Shock

August 3, 2010 11:34 AM

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:

1. Rays
2. Athletics
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:

1. Fenway
2. Wrigley
3. Dodger Stadium
4. Anaheim

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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That video of Divito is funny. He says he loves his job yet he often looks like a dejected teen being forced to mow the lawn. The look doesn't mean anything of course. Just funny to think of.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 11:52 AM by Jared Highlight this comment 1

Ballpark Magic guy- I talked to you Friday night on the roof deck. Are the pictures you took up there posted anywhere on the site yet? Thanks

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 2:00 PM by Usher Highlight this comment 2

"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."

How do you figure that the Marlins park will be "incredibly huge" or "bloated"? The seating capacity will make it one of the smaller stadiums in the league at 37,000.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 2:01 PM by Greg Highlight this comment 3


Not yet. They'll be coming in the next week as I work through the 500+ photos I took the other night.


Relationship to the human scale is not about seating capacity. It's about how the physical size of the building (especially height) relates to the size of a typical person.

Big is not bad by itself, as long as there are facade elements which connect with real people. The Miami park is all swoops and curves which, from street level, will appear unbroken off into the distance, and upward toward the sky. They will draw the eye up (usually a good thing) but not give it much of anything to see once it gets there (always a bad thing). The overall effect has something of a forbidding quality to it.

The windows are hopelessly huge and inaccessible. And the roof line doesn't do the design any favors because it looks, to put it kindly, like a big white gumdrop. (Miami really does need a roof, so I'm not lamenting its presence, just its unfortunate design.)

There is also something unsettling about how the facade seems detached from the function of the building. The layout of the playing field is at odds with the overall shape of the building, and the exterior walls actively diverge from the field and seating, expanding it somewhat unnaturally, as if inflated. To me, it looks bloated.

This is all subjective, of course. But weirdly, the overall design reminds me of what people once imagined the future would be. That stadium would fit in well in this landscape:

To its credit, it draws on architectural elements which are common to the region. But what it does not do that it might have is express those elements in the form of a ballpark. Instead, it reverse-engineers a baseball field into a building which might just as easily have been something else. A similar criticism can be made about Nationals Park, though definitely not about either FYS or CitiField. At least those two look like ballparks -- albeit with their own problems.

From a fan's perspective, how the place gets finished out will make a big difference to the gameday experience, and we can't really say anything about that yet. It could be great, and we have no concrete reason to think it won't.

But on the macro scale, an opportunity has been missed in Miami.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 2:51 PM by Rick 4

For discussion: Does Target Field look like a ballpark on the outside? Would you know it was a ballpark if you were seeing it coming in from the North? (Assuming you could drive on a road and see it coming in the horizon for miles).

My first thought is from the outside of the home plate side, the answer is no, and in some ways that is why I like it.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 5:10 PM by JCTwins Highlight this comment 5

Drove by the dome this afternoon and among all the purple banners of EJ Henderson, Antoine Winfield, etc.. One man stands alone. Yes that's right. Nick Punto's 2009 banner proudly flies firmly at the corner of 6th street and Chicago (across from Huberts).

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 8:48 PM by NotMendoza Highlight this comment 6

Maybe Favre's was covering it up.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 9:17 PM by Dr. X Highlight this comment 7

Obviously, and I don't even think we have to discuss this, Target Field unquestionably looks like a ballpark from the Southeast and the Northeast. From SE on 5th, and night and day from the same spot on 6th and Hennepin.

However, I couldn't disagree more with your (implied) assessment that Target Field doesn't look like a ballpark from the north. I know that's not what you explicitly stated, but it seemed like you started to lean that way, and I just have to say, if this doesn't look like a ballpark, then what on earth does it look like?:

This is one of the old title bars from this here website of Rick's. He took this picture of course, and it was taken from just north of TF on 7th Street. This is what TF looks like when you're coming into downtown on the 4th Street ramp; it's what it looks like from Plymouth Ave as it goes over I-94; it's what it looks like from a lot of places north of downtown. Does it look like a ballpark?! I would have to say yes, it does. I definitely like the fact that TF unquestionably looks like a ballpark, and in my opinion, from all angles. You don't approach it at night with the canopy all lit up thinking, "what on earth is that?" That's one of the things I hated about the dome. It's not that it was ugly. It wasn't even all that much of an eyesore from the outside, it's even kind of iconic for the Minneapolis skyline. It was more the fact that it did not in any way, shape, or form reflect in its design what it was built for. It's just a big white marshmallow sitting in a grey bowl with red supports. Target Field is a thing of beauty, and with the big "Twins" sign which can actually be seen for a few miles when approaching downtown from the west on 394, not only is there no doubt about what it is, the character of the design of the place is extremely reflective of not only what it was built for, but as Rick has suggested, also who it was built for. This isn't Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, nor is it Wrigley or Fenway. It's a whole new kind of unique, awesome, and entirely appropriate.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 9:58 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 8

Sorry, didn't mean to start waxing poetic on a bit of a tangent there at the end. What I should have finished with is: yes, it looks like a ballpark, and nothing else. I don't think you could approach it from any angle, and not know what it is.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 10:06 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 9

I just had to share this with all of you. Freakin priceless.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 10:30 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 10's nice to have some banter here again but dude calm down a little bit.

I think we have some bias as ballpark fans knowing what we're looking at. Looking at the above picture, which is a good one, I think you could say it looks like a lot of things other than a ballpark. Or at least not clearly a ballpark. I don't mean that negatively, as I think if it were just the back of a bunch of grandstands (a la smaller parks like Midway stadium), it wouldn't look as cool.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM by JCTwins Highlight this comment 11

Rest assured JC, I'm calm. I promise, I never even got worked up. This is actually a picture of me when I was typing that stuff above:

Me, relaxed.

But seriously...You said that "you could say it looks like a lot of things other than a ballpark." Ok. What then? An office building? A church? Perhaps a racetrack or a football stadium or something like that, but then we're still talking about stadiums. Is there anything it could possibly look like, other than a stadium?

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 11:27 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 12

I'm not sure how anyone could mistake TF for anything but a ballpark from any direction. The architecture goes out of its way to reveal and highlight the building's function.

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 11:33 PM by Rick 13

I completely agree.

On an entirely different subject, enjoy this epic FAIL on the part of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 01:30 AM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 14

Sorry, I probably should have linked to the story instead of the comments.

A little FAIL of my own there...

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 01:33 AM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 15

Once again the local nine come up a bit short when playing a "real" baseball team that is hitting on a cylinder or two more than the Twins. On paper, our guys are a very dangerous team - so what is the problem? I really think it's time to call Gardenhire out and ask if he is extracting the full measure of talent and desire available to him. The team seems destined, once again, to barely limp into the playoffs due to a weak division and get it's head handed to it by a team that plays the way we are led to believe, via a great deal of spin, the way "we" do. Are we not entitled to expect more - especially given that more is available to us?

And what of Morneau? Is he, like the aging prizefighter, being told or going to be told that he quite simply can't take another blow to the head? I sincerely hope that this fine young man makes the right decision.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 06:13 AM by Ben Highlight this comment 16

Not only is it Punto, but I believe that Delmon is on the other side of it. It was noticed many months ago.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 06:40 AM by AJ Highlight this comment 17

A really modern looking round trash compactor?

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 08:41 AM by JCTwins Highlight this comment 18

Rick (or anyone else),

Just curious - of the Ballparks books listed in your bibliography, which is your favorite? Which is your favorite ballpark website?

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 1:51 PM by Expectorate Highlight this comment 19

Give it a rest JC. You're just plain wrong.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 2:42 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 20

Expectorate! That's hilarious. You ask Rick what his favorite ballpark website is?! That's almost like asking a chef what his favorite restaurant is...

But if it's general/all-inclusive ballpark websites we're talking about, then I guess it applies.

I like Pretty good collection of all parks past, present, and possibly future.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 2:48 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 21

My favorite book is, by far, Diamonds by Michael Gershman. I reread it every year or so because it actually traces the detailed history of ballpark development with lots of photos and stories not found elsewhere. It's light on stories of great feats by players, and heavy on who built the park, how and why.

Among the other coffee table books, the two with "Panoramic" in the title are nice because they are very large (17" x 12") and can be bought for less than a buck used. The info in the text is questionable in spots, but the photos are great.

For a good reference book, go with Green Cathedrals, of course. It's dry to read through, but if you ever need to know a detail of a particular park, you can probably find it there.

For nostalgia, Lost Ballparks. It will make you want to visit, among other places, the Herbert Hoover Boys' Club in St. Louis (which I've done).

For hard-hitting (but sort of dry) analysis, Ballparks of the Deadball Era is deeply sabremetric, with few photos, and covers in detail all ML ballparks prior to 1919. It focuses on how the dimensions of the playing fields affected batting and pitching, but it also contains some detailed textual descriptions of how the stands were laid out.

Finally, Blue Sky, Green Fields is unique in that the author interviewed a whole bunch of living players (including Bert). Their comments are scattered liberally throughout, and are frequently surprising. It's a window into just how differently players see the parks compared to the fans.

The biggest flaw with some of these books is that they recycle photos which have been seen elsewhere about a billion times. For example, Joe DiMaggio looking at the ruins of the original Yankee Stadium? It's in just about every book.

By the way, what you see in that list now is still just a slice of my library. I have tons of books which are dedicated to a particular park, a few which are on the architecture of sporting facilities, a huge cache of Twins/Miller/Saints books, and then a bunch of oddball stuff. I even have one which came with a bunch of miniature classic stadiums in a fancy box (with I bought on Amazon for $5.00!).

There isn't room for them all in the right-hand column, but I'm adding them to a dedicated page at the same time I'm adding them here.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 2:59 PM by Rick 22


You came to the appropriate conclusion as you posted. Yes, I am aware that Rick is probably partial to this site. And yes, I was in fact referring to general ballpark reference sites, such as; I don't consider to be in that category.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 3:25 PM by Expectorate Highlight this comment 23 point is that it is a subjective discussion, there is no right and wrong. Again, I'll stand by the idea that most that know it's a ballpark think it looks like one. I think if you had someone that had no idea what it was, and parked them up the road of this park, many would guess it was something else. As I said, I think that's a positive as much as a negative.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 5:01 PM by JCTwins Highlight this comment 24

Not by a TV or radio, does anyone know what the specifics are to the Power Delay for the Twins game tonight?

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 6:17 PM by TK Highlight this comment 25

Lightning strike took out some lights - they can't start until all lights back on.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 6:20 PM by Ben Highlight this comment 26

Did they provide an ETA, as my cable is being worked on tonight and I was going to head out to a local watering hole to watch.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 6:24 PM by TK Highlight this comment 27

It's on. Have one for me.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 6:58 PM by Ben Highlight this comment 28

Expectorate, what's your favorite ballpark reference site?

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 7:03 PM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 29

Twins are a bunch of pretenders that can beat up the little guys and then they get intimidated playing the beasts from the East.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 9:06 PM by firedog Highlight this comment 30

Nice play in left, Delmon. I major league outfielder has got to make that catch.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 9:09 PM by Jeff T. Highlight this comment 31

Can Cuddyer at least act like he is trying to put a solid at bat together...He walks up to the plate takes two fastball strikes and swings at crap...Never comes threw when we need it..only when we are up by 3 already

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 9:13 PM by sw Highlight this comment 32

Capps is right at home as Twins closer choking against the AL East! Twins were 53-1 leading after 8 innings. The only other loss was against the Rays.

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 9:23 PM by firedog Highlight this comment 33

Nice comeback and win by the little engine that could!

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 10:18 PM by firedog Highlight this comment 34


You may be trolling, but how in the heck would that be Capps fault? It bounced off Delmon's glove!

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 11:19 PM by Chad Highlight this comment 35

Can we at least try to use proper grammar, correct spelling, and the right word in the right place on this site? No "yours" when you should have used "you're." No "threw" when you meant "through"...SW I'm talking to you! I think you meant "A" major leaguer, Jeff T., not "I" major leaguer...let's not let the ballparkmagic forum turn into the laziness that is the rest of the internet's comment pages.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 01:21 AM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 36

Man, I'm a little bitch! Sorry guys.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 01:22 AM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 37

Firedog, are you sure about the 53-1 thing? I thought that Rauch blew 2 saves that the Twins ended up losing. Wouldn't that make that "-1" part impossible?

(Unless one of Rauch's blown saves occurred in the eighth inning, and not after it...)

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 01:25 AM by theloniousjoe Highlight this comment 38

Rauch blew four saves, but the Twins only lost one of those and it was to the Rays. In two of those blown saves, Rauch himself came back the next inning and pitched for the W.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 06:44 AM by AJ Highlight this comment 39

I watched most of last night's game. Imagine that same game -- strong pitching, low scoring -- in a sold-out Target Field instead of a mostly empty terrible dome.

That would have been a classic game.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 09:55 AM by F_T_K Highlight this comment 40

F_T_K - I was thinking the same thing. Some of the blame has to lie with the Rays fans themselves, not just their awful stadium. If they had played that same game in the just-as-awful Metrodome last year, you can bet that way more than 19,000 would have shown up.

thelonius - I'm only familiar with and, and I prefer the former.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM by Expectorate Highlight this comment 41


what has been going on this year with everyone?

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 11:21 AM by mazaratirick Highlight this comment 42

After totally choking away the lead, Kubel hits a catwalk to score a run. Somehow, the Twins still have their indoor baseball magic. Thank goodness there is no roof of any kind at Target Field though!!

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 1:36 PM by ole Highlight this comment 43

Extremely happy with the performances of Baker and Slowey.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 2:42 PM by AJ Highlight this comment 44

Sorry about that Bartlett grand slam, guys. I turned to my cube mate and said "Well, at least we don't have to worry about the Rays tying it up on this at bat--Bartlett hasn't hit a home run since late June!"

Once again, my sincerest apologies.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 3:34 PM by Chad Highlight this comment 45

Ok Chad, repeat after me: "There's no way F_T_K will ever win the lottery, he hasn't won anything in years..."


Today I walked into my favorite 'dive bar' for a late lunch, just in time to see the last out. Very nice play by Alexi to get the out at first. Good series split after losing the first two!

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM by F_T_K Highlight this comment 46

I'm looking for eight tickets to either the Aug 14th or 15th game against Oakland at Target Field, does anybody here know the best way (cheapest way) to find decent tickets for eight?

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 6:17 PM by Miller Highlight this comment 47

I would just call the box office. I got 6 wheel chair row seats (i have 2 sisters in wheel chairs so don't worry) for the july 15th game. Granted I got them in mid-june, but talk to one of their reps and they'll be able to figure something out for you.

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 11:29 PM by MattW Highlight this comment 48

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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.

Here's one big problem with a retractable roof: completely terrible seating in left. These scant few seats would have been tucked under the track. No sunshine, no open concourse, it was a terribly kludgy idea. With some hindsight, it's very clear that adding a retractable roof on this small site would have required compromises which would have just been too extensive to tolerate. Without it, the design was free to grow into something much more memorable.

From behind the wind veil

Some details are visible here, like the back of an escalator.

The back gates at Comerica park, like everything else, a bit overwrought.

The outfield stands as viewed through the unnumbered gate

This appears to be the floor to the home dugout!

Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number

The mounds have grown seating supports

Scoreboard in profile against the skyline

One more time from the third base side.

Once again, Noah is holding his ears because of the traffic noise.

Anna keeps the riff raff under control.

The saddest event

Replays on the out-of-town scoreboard!

Trees now line Seventh Street

Photo by Jeff Ewer (Click to enlarge.)

The lights have covers on the top, presumably to reduce light pollution

This was on BPM night. Nice neon, but I'm still waiting to see the homer show.

The first passengers are about to arrive, but the switch is set for the wrong track (those guys walked all the way out to correct it)

I don't exactly know what this is. A first-aid station? Concession office?

The limestone theme is apparently carried to the area behind home plate. This will look great -- and distinctive -- on TV. But watch out for those foul balls!

Discussions in progress on some very brown grass...

Fissure dude

Two train stations

For executive entertaining


The Polo Grounds (left) and Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium)

Photo by Jeff Ewer


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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