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
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Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3004 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Gate 29 escalators
He'll always be a fan favorite, but did you know that he's making $18.5 million this year? The Twins' entire outfield today, combined, makes $7.45 million.
A look at Gate 34.
The view from our Loge Box
I suppose that one day my son will graduate from Mrs. Fields to Hooters. At least he won't have to travel too far. *Shudder*
Click to enlarge greatly.
Today's late-inning office.
The Fun Zone/Rescue Area in Oakland during the second inning
The limestone now wraps around onto the HERC side.
The Metrodome hot dog vendor. (Source: RP)
Skyline to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the outfield with you... (click to enlarge)
Here's a curious little room at the end of the circulation ramp. What could they be selling there?
One thing that the design disguises nicely is that the Pro Shop (and other key components) are actually built over lanes of freeway. That can clearly be seen here.
Not from Moose's tour, but it's an image you need to see. (Click to enlarge greatly.)
The base of the old Met Stadium flagpole. (The plaque refers to the "Flame of Freedom" and not the origin of the pole.)
The glass area seen here is one of the warm-up areas.
A true fan out in the bleachers
7:32 PM Glare begins at about the left field foul pole.
There's the opening through which the groundskeeping equipment will emerge (and disappear).
Lots of people are doing it.
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.
Dave St. Peter introducing the first physical models of the ballpark in June 2007
This is a great spot for casually watching the game.
I took this picture from the Overlook at great personal risk, because everything Thome was hitting was landing out that direction.
I think AP is in there somewhere...
Air conditioning condensation on the floor.
Replays on the out-of-town scoreboard!
B ramp improvements are finally becoming usable. The doors lead to the plaza beneath the skyway steps.
8:02 PM It's at peak, affecting mostly the upper deck.