A Football Stadium Takes Shape
August 31, 2008 11:55 PM
It's August, so it's inevitable that talk turns to football. I thought you might be interested to see this shot I took while waiting for the Park-N-Ride bus to the fair:
TCF Bank Stadium (click to enlarge)
I came toward the campus on the Franklin Avenue bridge, and was stunned to see the stadium from there -- rising above the neighborhood, already with a kind of sturdy dignity. What a sight.
Football stadiums interest me far less than baseball stadiums, as you've probably already guessed. A football field is a big rectangle, and every field is identical in shape to every other, whereas no two baseball fields are ever exactly the same. It's kind of like the difference between a Chips Ahoy and the chocolate chip cookies your mom makes.
An arch under construction.
A football stadium is vast and often symmetrical. The more massive, the better. The fan is held at arm's length from the game (or brought grotesquely into it by some linebacker's arm motions).
A baseball stadium, in contrast, curls around the game like a glove around a ball. There is a limit to how big the crowd should be, and a sense that the crowd is always part of the game (especially in wave-proof ballparks). What's more, the shape of the baseball stadium has a direct impact on the playing of the game (fences, foul territory, backgrounds, etc.). I like that.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I dislike football stadiums. I just find them less interesting. It's a personal bias, nothing more.
But as football stadiums go, I have to admit that TCF Bank Stadium is quite a beauty. It's enough to make me look forward to homecoming of 2009, and to at least make an attempt to get a ticket.
In 1981, the last year of Memorial Stadium, I was a freshman at the U, living as a border in the Deke house next to Newman Center (rent: $106 per month). I will never forget the homecoming parade down University Avenue, nor the deafening din in the field house. It was a bit perplexing to a kid from Princeton, but electrifying nonetheless. I never got to see a game at Memorial Stadium, but they all seemed to spill over into the entire neighborhood and fill the campus.
While it isn't fair to call the Metrodome a failure (it came in on time and under budget, and has, after all, housed three major sports teams effectively and economically for 26 years), but I think characterizing it as a mistake is completely fair and accurate. Just what the hell were we all thinking?
The county of my birth!
I remember how the Dome was sold to the U students as just being "at the opposite end of the campus" from Memorial Stadium. It didn't take long to realize that the Dome was not anywhere near the campus -- at least psychologically.
There would be no more homecoming parades -- at least not like I'd witnessed in the fall of '81. And the football team would seem somehow removed from the day-to-day life of the University. They were the Gophers, but not my Gophers. They weren't really anybody's. And as they got worse, it got easier on campus to sort of forget they existed. (Same with the marching band -- not that they got worse, they did not -- but they were just plain not as visible, a very big loss.)
So I agree with those who say that this new stadium will be a boon to recruiting, and has the potential to return the team to greatness someday just by returning them to campus. By "greatness" I mean within the U of M student body -- a source of identity and pride regardless of how well they play.
I haven't really followed the design or construction of TCF Bank Stadium. But the facade already has a repetitive simplicity which really does say "college football". It also does a dignified job of referring to its predecessor (which stood just across University Avenue) without getting too kitschy. The inclusion of the names of all the counties (one per pillar opening) is really cool -- a very nice touch.
In a few years we will look back at the Metrodome days like a bad dream -- not actually sure that it ever really happened. That will be a great day.
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This page was last modified on January 21, 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.
Our cantilever friends will be happy to learn that there will be sections with views like this in the new stadium.
TCF Bank Stadium. Not for baseball, but still pretty cool to watch being built.
This looks south and shows how the Northstar tracks are sheltered by the promenade above. This is the side which faces the HERC plant.
A skyway-level view down Seventh Street.
Even today, throw a fastball to that guy at your own risk.
The pouring is taking place at the very bottom of this photo.
The Carew lounge was all ready for some corporate event.
New Year's Eve, 2008
This is the Carew gate covered in plastic.
(Click to enlarge.)
Apparently, there will be public restrooms accessible directly from the plaza.
This view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown and shows how the LRT tracks sort of snuggle up to the ballpark.
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...
Site of the proposed new Atlanta Braves ballpark. Look familiar?
If you are into shade, there are lots of opportunities. This is from the last row in section 108 -- scoreboard not blocked in the least.
What are they hanging over there?
The french fry lights were on!
One of the sweetest sights of the day -- the Dome, and only through passing bus windows.
This is as close as I could get to a pedestrian-eye view of the main entrance. This is what you'll see as you enter by coming down Sixth Street.
That's Fifth Street (and a tattooed arm) in the foreground.
It looks like the Target-themed signage has spilled out to the surrounding area (this was taken from the entryway to the B ramp from Third -- the 394 entrance ramp tunnel)
The county of my birth!
I meant to include this shot the other day. It's the new LRT bridge being built next to the remaining half of the Fifth Street bridge. The new half is almost TWICE the width of the portion torn down. And the other end runs right into a HERC administration building! (Click to see the view from nearly the same spot about 85 years ago.)
The mounds have grown seating supports
Viewed from the A ramp.
The plaza as seen from the B ramp.
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