As it stands right now, there will be no roof on the new Twins ballpark. The funding is not included in the bill which was passed, and the concept drawings have all been changed to have it removed (look closely and you'll see that some of the differences in the two drawings are quite interesting). The team is talking like this is a done deal.
But the law does not prevent a roof from being built. It's actually almost silent on the subject (the only mention of the word "roof" is in connection with a possible Vikings stadium). With the Twins responsible for all cost overruns, it is conceivable that a roof could be considered an "overrun" that the Twins have the option of paying for (or finding non-public funding for) themselves.
And I read over on DTFC somewhere (I think it was there, still looking for the actual post) that Twins president Dave St. Peter made an off-hand comment on the radio that there is still a 5% chance that the ballpark will have a roof. So I asked him about it.
Original Concept - With a Retractable Roof
The most interesting part of his answer was that he didn't dismiss it out of hand. In fact, he said "some people talk about a magical funding stream" but declined to give any idea what that might be. Then he said that the Twins are "no longer focused on a roof" but always practice the "art of the possible" and will try to build the most comfortable park they can for the fans.
Then he stressed another reason it's way down on their list: it would add a year to construction, and they are keen to get this thing opened in 2010. He was very excited about the possibility of using energy from next door to provide some comfort for the fans.
So I return to this: As it stands right now, there will be no roof on the new Twins ballpark.
For some (including at least one rabid season ticket holder that I know), this is a Very Bad Thing. For others (including most of my friends), this is a Very Good Thing. I've spent a lot of time on the fence about it:
On one hand, this is Minnesota, and the one thing we know for certain is that some games will get rained/snowed out without a roof. Some games will be very cold.
On the other hand, this is Minnesota, dammit -- put on a sweatshirt! Bring a blanket! The sky and wind and weather are part of the game. As are heat, cold, rain-outs and snow-outs. Get over it.
On one hand, a roof guarantees that all games will be played on schedule.
Here's what they do in April at Comerica Park
On the other hand, a roof guarantees that at least some games will be played under some ugly airplane-hanger-like roof.
On one hand, adding a roof now can be done for the relatively inexpensive cost of $100M (versus much more, and another act of the legislature, later).
On the other hand, it may never be necessary. Fans are pretty adaptable and it may be a totally unnecessary expense.
On one hand, the original concept was for a roof which would be behind about 80% of the seats -- nearly invisible -- when retracted (hovering over the incinerator).
On the other hand, cost-cutting could become a factor in just how far that roof retracts. It would be cheaper to shorten the track and have the roof stop closer to the playing field, making it possible that cost-cutting would change the plan significantly for the worse.
But when I really think about it, I've seen rain-delayed games at Wrigley Field and Comerica, and some very chilly September games at Comiskey Park. All of these were better baseball experiences than the one I saw at Miller Park in Milwaukee where it stopped raining halfway through the game and they opened the roof. (That park feels like a big gymnasium whether the roof is open or closed.)
On balance, I think that no roof is better than a bad roof, and a bad roof is a distinct possibility. (I'm lucky enough to live close enough to make my decisions spontaneously on game day... Out-state fans may have a different take -- which hopefully they will leave in the comments.)
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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 3004 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Bruce Lambrecht on the roof of the Minikahda building.
Click to enlarge greatly. See yourself?
Circulation building with construction team on top
This is the start of construction on the Northstar platform which will feed under the bridge and to a lobby with escalators and elevators just inside the ballpark's public concourse. Compared to the ballpark construction, this looks kind of puny. But the work just to get the trains to come has been positively Herculean. Future generations will look back at this with awe.
Near the end of the Angels' 4-run second inning.
Viewed from up Sixth Street, the tip of the canopy looks like the claw of some gigantic crustacean!
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.
This is a great spot for casually watching the game.
The proposed wooden screen covering the circulation ramp on Fifth Street (at left is the equivalent screen on Seventh Street).
Door to the visitor's clubhouse.
Plaza extension reaches toward First Avenue
This isn't a very good picture, but it is the current view of the inside of a suite.
For those who have never seen it up close, that's what it looks like when steam comes out of the HERC plant.
(Click to enlarge)
Louver samples on display.
Fan number 3,030,673 came through this gate a few moments after I took this picture.
A last look on the way out.
This area will supposedly show the Twins chronology. Will it stretch back to 1901?
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.
Stairs down to the sidewalk from the skywalk over Seventh
This shows the area where the Northstar platform connects with the ballpark (that translucent oval). Above that is the area which will house the Twins operations offices.
Rooftop scaffolding, for the wind veil installation?
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)
Guthrie Theater (original design colors)
Target Plaza looking toward the grandstand
Sharing and Caring Hands, as viewed from the ballpark site about a block away. Note transaction in progress in the shadows.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
The bases for the player statues have been recently upgraded.
The Northstar circulation building is starting to take shape.