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.
"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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Love the LC!
Bag checking at Ball Park Lanes was incredibly simple, as was the pick up later. The line was short and fast-moving.
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
This is what passes for imagination at Miller Park -- they didn't even get the shape right! (Source: LP)
Here's the view of the entrance ramp to 394. Looks like they are painting...
Work has begun on the plaza, and the activity has started to impact I-394 traffic.
Section 101, Row 34
The french fry lights were on!
Plaza seating installation
No offense, TC, but you're pointing exactly the wrong direction if you want people to use the ramp opening to your right...
What are they hanging over there?
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.
Working on the connecting LRT tracks (this view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown.)
Back of scoreboard; facade in context.
A closer look at the bridge and walls. You can see where the tracks will be laid.
A scene repeated about a BILLION times each game
This was on BPM night. Nice neon, but I'm still waiting to see the homer show.
Work in progress.
Note reflected sunset (7:30 PM). Could be a worry...
Section 331, Row 9
Here's what they do in April at Comerica Park
This is why I get it, even if I don't like it.
An early concept drawing for the site
The splendid view from the roof of the Minikahda building. (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)
This was from January 19, 2007, when it looked like wonderful things might never happen here.
The Carew lounge was all ready for some corporate event.
The view from section 210
The Metrodome hot dog vendor. (Source: RP)
Killebrew's mammoth shot on June 3, 1967 is currently memorialized on a wall at the Mall of America