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.
Some baseball legends (and Ron Coomer)
Guthrie Theater (original design colors)
From about two blocks away you can finally get an idea of what it looks like. Just to my left (but out of view) was a valet parking stand where a limo was idling.
7:52 PM It's nearing peak, and covering the stands behind third base.
Evidence of a food court behind the seating above the batter's eye
Up inside the circulation building. (That's the LRT platform visible through the windows.)
Steps going up at Gate 29/Carew
Apparently, there will be public restrooms accessible directly from the plaza.
Indications that club seating (the wider spaced areas above each dugout) will be a major presence in the lower deck
A place to sit (does it look like a pitcher's mound to you?)
Ahh. Lunch in the admin building...
Home Run Porch Terrace (bottom) and View (top) as seen from the top of the B ramp
The Guthrie Theater's Wurtele Thrust Stage seating
The Fifth Street side is pretty busy. There's a small street entrance to the B ramp, then ticket booths and an entrance gate, a rare exterior section not covered in limestone, the wooden screen covering the circulation ramps, the administration building, and finally (just out of view) the interface with Northstar. All of that sits behind the LRT action. How pedestrians will interact with this side of the park is a great mystery to me. You know that Metro Transit won't be letting them cross the tracks anywhere but at either end of the block...
This is the trapezoid (for lack of a better name) in right center. Be sure to notice section of seats just below the pavilion and above the fence (which I hadn't noticed before). For those who are interested, what looks like an old-style scoreboard is in fact a high-def video board which will look, at times, like an old-fashioned scoreboard.
This is a great spot for casually watching the game.
Beams connecting the plaza to the Target Center walkway
World Series trophies on display at left
The creative design of the admin building stands in stark contrast to the horribly pedestrian appearance of the LRT platform. This design looks like it came out of a public transportation manual.
At the end of the balcony you can see down the promenade.
Looking across the top of the batter's eye
Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)
Target Plaza looking toward the grandstand
Most of the main concourse is filled with construction materials...
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.
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.
Let's be honest and say that this promenade, which will face the HERC plant, won't be the most exciting part of the streetscape. It has to be provided for circulation reasons, but there won't be much to see unless vendors and other attractions take root here.
Not my actual kids!
Plaza seating installation
Just think: It could look like this!
These are the footings for the staircase which will connect the plaza to the skyway.
There are no caddies in baseball.
Gate 3 "Killebrew"
Preparations underway (Field View)
They help create a psychological safe area along the plaza edge, and help you forget that cars are zipping by directly beneath you.