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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Click to enlarge.
I see an opportunity in this view for an Abbey Road-style promotional photo! Mauer, Morneau, Nathan and Cuddyer walking toward the ballpark. The only question: which one takes off his cleats?
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.
That's my mom. She scored the whole game on her Gameday program (bought for just $1 on the opening night special -- thanks guys!)
This is the entrance behind home plate (not visible in the renderings which have been released). It shows that the upper deck is set back from the facade -- a very good thing if it remains in the final design.
I'm not sure why there's a wreath on Gate 3. (I quickly checked the headlines for any dreaded Killebrew news. Whew.) It looks to be in celebration, maybe of the move.
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
Peering through Gate 34
The glass area seen here is one of the warm-up areas.
Did you know that the out-of-town scoreboard is covered by a black chain 1ink fence?
Thome steps in.
Just think: It could look like this!
This is where you will put out your butts -- I mean enjoy some pretty flowers.
Mystery door on Seventh Street...
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!
The windows have started going in.
This is the revised version of the center field pavilion (without the restaurant). It looks like there are no seats, just some ledges for people to sit on. It reminds me of the seating on the "bridge" which sticks out of the new Guthrie Theater. Anything which lands in the trees will presumably be a home run, so the "411" sign is apparently just for fun.
Here you can see the real beauty of the Seventh Street side, and get a solid sense of why the overall design really works. The building's purpose is clearly visible, there are numerous connections from inside to outside, scale is nicely mitigated, the stone is attractively used, materials are pleasantly mixed and truly complementary. It's just a winner in so many ways.
I could gaze at this streetscape all day. It isn't perfect, but as a model for Minneapolis, I love it. (Except the Biff, of course. Click to enlarge.)
Packed SRO beneath the notch.
Did I mention that the cheerleaders looked pretty sharp?
These two sections are within a few feet of one another.
The Northstar station at night
I don't know if the back side is also a test for materials, but it could be a hint of how the exposed steel supports will be finished. Or it could just be to hold up the stone.
An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)