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.)
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Scoreboard in profile against the skyline
The canopy as viewed through the outfield stands. The lighting approach, despite what you may have heard, is actually very traditional.
Note the gigantic -- and very permanent -- M's on the gates at the base of these stairs.
Directly above the ceiling here is the hidden concourse which served the upper deck prior to the renovation. That concourse was closed off to the public, but became a service level for ballpark employees. It's one of the many quirks which will be lost when the wrecking ball takes the place away.
A little higher angle shows how the two stations are close to one another but distinctly separate. The oval, glass-enclosed area is the entrance from the Northstar platform below into the ballpark. The LRT platform is comparable to the other stations along that route.
Gate 3 ticket window
If you want, you can ask those folks how the game is going -- and even get a little bit of info from the big screen (Grandstand)
The first pitch.
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)
At Comerica Park, some aisles have railings and some do not.
Very interesting detail starting to appear here.
Eleven flag poles
Sunday afternoon, WFTC-HD 720P
This is amazingly close to completed. It's a short tunnel entrance ramp to 394 underneath the outfield stands.
Purple flowers above Second Avenue
Fifth Street louvers way up close
Reverse view, now looking down Sixth toward the park. The Met Stadium flag pole will be right there!
I have no idea what this is or does, but as gear goes, it's totally boss, man. (Attached to a railing just off of the Trap)
This will be a bar/restaurant.
Thome steps in.
An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)
I could gaze at this streetscape all day. It isn't perfect, but as a model for Minneapolis, I love it. (Except the Biff, of course. Click to enlarge.)
Lots of people are doing it.
Not me, but it might as well be.
A very busy place, as viewed from Target Center.
No, that's not Kent Hrbek. It's catcher Glenn Borgmann.
Work in progress.
Here's the entrance from the seating bowl. It's down the outer moat, just beyond the last of the Dugout Box sections.
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: