It Could Have Been Better/Worse
September 16, 2008 1:07 AM
Big corporations seldom take big chances or make bold moves.
When it comes to the ballpark project, however, the Twins have been the exception up to this point. They picked an unorthodox site, forced their architects to get really creative, moved railroad tracks, built bridges over freeways, even went so far as to turn their back on the tried-and-true retro trend.
But there really was no way they'd make it through the whole project without making some sort of obvious, big-corporation-type decision. And that's what we got today: Target Field.
Target was never very far off anyone's radar as the naming partner. But most of us assumed that, with one naming deal already in place about 100 yards away, they would not be very likely to double up. (There's a rumor floating around that they may not be doubling up for very long. Their deal on the basketball arena expires in 2011.)
But we didn't count on the combined forces of The Obvious and The Boring to be quite so strong. I mean, who else was it going to be?
My bet was on Wells Fargo. Lots of folks were sure it would be Best Buy (though I had a tipster tell me a couple of weeks ago that BB had already lost). But there is only one corporate name at the top of the Minneapolis heap, and it goes by a bull's eye.
So, if you're an optimist, you think: Well, it could have been worse. Allianz comes to mind, as do a few banks and other insurance companies. Target is at least a great company, a solid corporate citizen, and definitely home-grown. They are a good employer (unlike some other discount chains I could name), and have a reputation for being generous. Frankly, I've always felt pretty rosy about Target the store and Target the corporation. I sure do buy a lot of life supplies there.
The company does have a dark side (which you'll only hear about from those who have been run over by the almost grotesque ambition level which pervades the corporate culture), but for the most part we love the values, and we're comfortable with the Values.
If you're a pessimist, you probably feel let down, even betrayed. Everything else in the project has been so wonderfully unconventional that they certainly could have done better. In fact, it's been reported that there were internal discussions about not wallowing up to the Naming Rights Feeding Trough at all. We have no way of knowing how far that idea got, but baseball is a numbers game, and the trough contains some pretty big numbers.
Target HQ main entrance. Ballpark resemblance? (Inset.)
For me, it's disappointing but not surprising. I understand why each party would make this deal. It works for everyone. But, as Dick Button might say, it just doesn't sing.
I'll never forget my first reaction to the original "Target Center" name back in 1990. It sounded so dumb. At first I didn't even realize that it was referring to the retailer. I though it meant "a central location where people go to aim at things." It took a couple of hearings before I put two and two together.
But we can get used to anything. That's human nature. Can you remember the first time you heard "Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome"?
There will come a day when "Target Field" will trip off our tongues and we'll have long forgotten what the alternatives might have been. That will be especially true if it happens to grow a cool nickname.
Deep down, I think the name could actually be redeemed with a very slight alteration. Why not rename the entire complex as "Target Center" and then rename the venues as:
Killebrew Field at Target Center
Mikan Court at Target Center
They could still have all the Target logos everywhere, of course, and all the TV announcers would still say "from Target Center in Minneapolis," but there would be a formal connection to the history of sports in this town. Some of the coldness of the corporate name would be relieved.
Yeah, I'm dreaming. (Don't know who George Mikan was? Shame on you.) The thing I like least is how cold the new name sounds. Maybe it will warm up all on its own.
When I remember this day, I'll remember waking up to something like 50 new comments on this site. (Before reading any of them, I assumed that some spam-bot had penetrated my shields!) You guys are amazing.
But more than that, I'll remember my mother's instant reaction to the name: She crinkled up her nose and said, "Oh well. Too bad."
Then she handed me a freshly-made oatmeal raisin cookie. I felt better immediately.
So, if you are among the disappointed, my advice is to eat an oatmeal raisin cookie (with milk, if you are so inclined). You'll feel better immediately. It's really not that bad.
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"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.
A very busy place, as viewed from Target Center.
At the end of the balcony you can see down the promenade.
A mural featuring the names of a bunch of Minnesota towns.
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.
Hey! An unnumbered gate!
The back gates at Comerica park, like everything else, a bit overwrought.
The Northstar station.
8:32 PM The glare is gone. Elapsed time: 1 hour (approximately 3 innings).
Mauer steps in for the first time.
The official ballpark development area
The suite mock-up
Seating mound (seen from the B ramp)
A path for workers -- don't touch the plaza! -- in front of three giant Chia pets
I love views like this. They show just how much Target Field shimmers. (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
This is during halftime.
Workers against green
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:
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.
The outline of an infield has appeared on the asphalt in advance of the ground-breaking on Thursday night.
Original outfield configuration
At left, across the tracks by that pile of dirt is where the Northstar commuter train platform will be built, and where Twins fans will apparently NOT be able to get a train after night games. (For reference, that's the Fifth Street bridge, with the ballpark site just beyond it. The east corner of Ford Centre is just visible at the right edge of the picture.)
Franchise history before Minnesota. (Click to enlarge.)
The past is the future. Seriously.
There's the opening through which the groundskeeping equipment will emerge (and disappear).
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