A Football Place: Nuts and Bolts
September 3, 2009 10:19 PM
Now that a major milestone for Target Field is in the rearview mirror, let's step back and take a look at a few more images from that other stadium opening around these parts. (Click here for part one of my look at TCF Bank Stadium.)
There was so much to like about TCF Bank Stadium that I doubt I could even list it all. One of its greatest powers was the simplicity of the design of the seating bowl. It's a horseshoe. Open on one end. That makes it, schematically at least, deeply similar to its predecessor, and much more aesthetically pleasing than an enclosed (especially -- gasp -- symmetrical) oval.
They could have easily enclosed that end and added some seating, but leaving it open connects it very tangibly to the U and lends an airiness to it.
And what they did with that area is also special because it makes scenes like this wonderfully possible:
In all of the literature they mention that the stadium has about 50,000 seats, but that it is expandable. It's easy to see where some expansion could come:
Just beyond that banner is a large flat roof onto which some 30,000 more seats could be plopped. OK, it's more complicated than that, but expandability is a good thing, especially if you harbor any desires about attracting another, somewhat more visible, tennant.
But I'll tell you this: This is not a multi-team stadium. Just about everything is branded in a very permanent way with an M. If the Vikings have any ideas about paying for 30,000 more seats and moving in, they can just forget about it. This is the Gophers' stadium, and don't you ever forget it. Here are just a couple of examples of permanent logos (the big M's in the seats also qualify, of course):
There are lots more, including those fabulous gigantic gates which open onto University Avenue.
It's one of the things I hate most about the Metrodome. It just never felt like it really belonged to any of the teams which called it home. It could change its spots in a couple of hours, and even then there is an impermanence about the branding. Banners are just not the same as wrought iron.
With the Twins and Gophers gone, the Vikes do intend to make the place their own (for at least as long as they play there), including selling naming rights to the roof, among other things. (You may one day be taking a leak in the Viagra troughs.)
Much has been made about the decision to use bench seating without backs at TCFBS. I find it murder to sit on these things for more than a few minutes, so at first I thought that was insane. But now I understand. You can rent your seat back, have it professionally installed, for $48 per season. It's a revenue stream!
Lots of people are doing it.
I don't follow football stadium construction closely enough to know if this is an innovation or just the adoption of something commonly in use elsewhere.
I also haven't seen this sort of thing before:
The seats are bolted to the floor, but it appears that they can be quickly removed and rolled away. It may be the state of the art in accessible seating (that's where I saw them) but I just don't know.
You may remember that I was surprised to learn a few weeks ago that Target Field will include some catwalk access to areas of the upper deck (er, View Level). I found some similar short catwalks at TCFBS.
These particular ones connect the DQ Club to the seating bowl and what I presume are some sort of premium seats (they looked like regular seats to me, but having access through the lounge requires a special ticket).
Here's the view back toward the door:
Premium seat options are plentiful, as you know. There are special elevators from the main concourse, tucked away. The elevator lobby that we used also had privileged access to one of the pro shops...
...along with extensive, TCFBS branded recycling and trash receptacles:
I will take a picture of just about anything.
Here's just one of the reasons football stadiums are so different from baseball facilities: you can put the premium seating above and behind all the rest of the regular seating.
Even though the classes are rigidly separated at TCFBS, just like everywhere else, it is possible to forget that you are among the rabble because the premium seats don't really intrude. In a baseball stadium, the premium seats always push the cheap seats up and farther away from the playing field. In a football stadium, they tend to ride above the top of everything else (Metrodome excepted, of course).
There are some four or five levels (depending on how you count) of premium seats at TCFBS. We saw only a small portion of them, and I'm not sure that would be my first choice for how to see a game (my host mentioned as much when I picked up the tickets; he planned to use his regular seats much more than the Loge boxes). But if your investment is more about networking and deal-making than it is about football, the space is perfect. There were plenty of quiet nooks which one of the ushers told me were specifically included so people would have a place to go and talk on their cell phones!
One thing the premium areas do have in abundance is good food. I don't know if these prices are permanent or just for the exhibition but they were not bad.
The other day I mentioned the trend toward gigantic staircases in sporting facilities (I also saw examples at NYS and CitiField), and TCFBS features plenty of them. They are very long and actually pretty impressive. My hunch is that new facilities favor these because accessibility issues are completely resolved by elevators.
Staircase entrance. You cannot miss them.
Note the gigantic -- and very permanent -- M's on the gates at the base of these stairs.
Access to the upper sections is also largely by staircase.
Even so, they managed to incorporate very spacious exit ramps (not even hinted at on the outside facade, even though they do have windows as you get closer to the ground).
The Twins, of course, took exactly the opposite approach on their circulation ramps, choosing facade elements (the louvres) which call attention to them. Both approaches work, but I think I prefer the Twins' approach generally. Circulation is a central function of these buildings, and there's something to be said for letting a building look like what it is. That said, TCFBS is certainly a justified exception given the goals of the facade, and the genuine beauty they accomplished.
As you enter or exit from the north or east (and maybe the other directions) you will have to cross a little moat like this one:
These are rain gardens, handling the stadium's runoff. Very cool.
Here are a couple of random images, including two that I promised in the earlier entry.
Field access on the visitor's side
The lights have covers on the top, presumably to reduce light pollution
Did I mention that the cheerleaders looked pretty sharp?
Open concourses do mean that you can glimpse the field no matter where you are, but not really the game.
This weekend I'm headed back to the State Fair with some friends. This is the group of guys (all U of M alumni) that always makes a stop at the U of M booth out there. Normally, I just look at stuff and pass through rather quickly. This year, I'm grabbing something to wear to show my colors!
I'm out of town again for a couple of days, but you can watch Facebook for updates from my phone until I get to a computer again. (Today it was a trip to Murphy Field in Waunakee, WI, and I'll be posting a picture of my baseball-themed birthday cake just for fun as soon as my battery finishes recharging.)
My sister-in-law is letting me use her MacBook tonight and I feel a little bit like a fish out of water here. If there are typos, I apologize. The buttons are all in the wrong places, and I can't type like normal. Where the hell are Home and End and Delete (the real Delete, not that Backspace disguised as a Delete key) and PgUp?? Yep, I'm a geek alright. And I don't quite get what people like about these things, but I'm glad I had this opportunity to get back to a picture set that I thought you would enjoy.
I do keep up on comments on my phone a few times each day and I'm testing some new code that allows me to respond without opening the site (a feature I hope to make accessible to all in the near future).
Thanks for stopping by and for all the kind words. I really do appreciate it.
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This page was last modified on September 3, 2009.
"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 are some less intrusive things things you can actually get at the ballpark.
I didn't check the menu too closely, but it looks like all the standard fare is available, and not much of the non-standard stuff.
An overview of the model display.
Scoreboard as viewed from Fifth Street.
Still some work to be done on the canopy.
Such promise. (Click to enlarge.)
The Polo Grounds (left) and Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium)
Here's a curious little room at the end of the circulation ramp. What could they be selling there?
What can you see from up there? Some say not much.
The parking bay structure is now clearly visible
The past is the future. Seriously.
Original Concept - With a Retractable Roof
The plaza as seen from the B ramp.
Another deck to come...
Serious home dugout work in progress.
The littlest Twins fan: Truman
I had to hold the camera as far over my head as I could to get this shot, in which the infield is finally visible. It's a spot made for your average Timberwolves player.
A walkway begins to form (this is as close as you can get right now)
The stunning curtains, which skillfully evoke the architecture, keep the atrium from getting too hot in the late afternoon sun, simultaneously hiding the HERC.
Very nice Admin glass.
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...
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.
Some of your fellow BPMers at a game in May of 2010 (we had almost the whole section)
TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)
Would you have spotted that Twin? When you were five years old?
Here's the entrance from the seating bowl. It's down the outer moat, just beyond the last of the Dugout Box sections.
Here's a quick look into the layout of the Metropolitan Club.
Handshakes all around (there's gonna be a lot of that over the next few weeks)
The windows have started going in.
The entrance at Gate 3.
One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:
The saddest event
Thanks for all the hard work out there, Cold Safety-Line Dudes. (I'm glad that my job does not require safety lines...)
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