A friend invited me to watch his son play, and the night was so spectacular that I just couldn't resist. I took Noah, and we headed out for an adventure in outdoor baseball.
As my friend tells the story, his son was excited to play for his high school team this year. But he ended up not so much playing as mostly just watching because his manager, who also coached the football team, only played the guys who were in both sports. (He has since been removed from his baseball position.)
But is that just a sour grapes explanation from a kid who has less talent than the other guys in the dugout? Not so much. I've seen (and caught) his breaking ball. It has the ability to baffle hitters of the same age. He's on the slight side, with a Joe Nathan type build. And when he pitches, just like Nathan, he puts up zeroes.
So he quit his high school team in frustration and found a different league, also made up of high school kids. They aren't the cast-offs, but the kids who love the game so much that they just want to play. The competition is fierce, and the level of play is terrific. There is a joy in the play that transcends some of the misplays. (I'm sure many of you are familiar with these types of leagues.)
Our team led going into the sixth, but lost the lead and gave up a walk-off run on an error in the bottom of the inning (it was one of those games which ended after six innings because they'd used up their allotted time on the diamond and two other teams were standing by waiting to begin).
The crowd was small but enthusiastic. We had lots of room to stretch out. We had popcorn ($1.00), Doritos ($free from somebody's mom), taffy ($0.50), soda ($1.00), and a few other snacks that I can't recall from a well-stocked concession stand. I went with a twenty and four singles in my pocket, and still had $21 when the night was over.
Most of all, we sat under a sheer blue sky and watched the game being played in front of a truly pastoral green screen of trees. As the shadows started slipping onto the field, we placed bets on how much longer it would be before the sun finally disappeared behind us.
As we walked away at the end of the game, the sun had still not quite set, but the lights were now on, and a round of night games was about to begin.
It was a sunny, summer dream of baseball.
Let's face it: Baseball in the old railyard won't be quite as pure. There's a lot of money at stake, and most people who want to go down there to see a game will need to scrape their pockets for all of the twenties and singles they can come up with.
But here's hoping that the folks who will operate that new beauty of a ballfield downtown can remember why we fans come. We give up our money because of that sunny, summer dream of baseball. And I'd be willing to bet that the closer The Show gets to that memory, the more money we'll scrape out of our pockets and happily leave behind.
"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.
Here's a closer look at the bullpen area. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think there is still an opening to the concourse right above.
Dedicated closed-captioning ribbon board
This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.
Somebody asked how long it would be before the tarp had a sponsor. Well, not very long.
What are they hanging over there?
Team pennant. (Click to enlarge.)
The lot within the lot.
We'll be packed into the first five rows of section 136. Hey, Wilson! I'm bringing my glove!
The Hennepin Grille appears to feature chicken, brats, and fries.
Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
Suite level view
First Avenue at left, bike parking area at lower right
I love these upper neighborhoods.
Legends Club seats feature in-seat service
A photo taken as my meter ran out.
Row indicators are spray-painted with stencils over rust and peeling paint.
The suite mock-up
That is the gun-metal gray wall of The Stadium just beyond the elevated tracks.
Press box, hallway to the print room
Midway Stadium (seen from our tailgating spot across the parking lot)
ATM-style ticket machines have appeared beneath the steps to the B ramp (you can also enter the B ramp directly by walking past the ticket machines)
Here's another view up Sixth Street toward where the plaza will meet First Avenue (it will hug Target Center all the way).
These stairs will go up to the centerfield pavilion.
Lots of sun, but not much scoreboard from 127
Ballpark elevation viewed from the promenade (HERC plant) side. (Click to enlarge.)
Party deck down the right field line
This would have been the HERC side, though it's unclear just how far over the plant the retracted roof would have gone. My fear was always that they would have to shorten the track and more of the roof would have stayed over the ballpark. The only good retractable roof is one which disappears when not in use. I don't think they could have realistically created such a thing.
Jose Alvalade XXI Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal has towers much like I'm imagining to hold up our canopy while also making a bold statement on the horizon
At TF, you never know when you may bump into a Pohlad