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 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Loading docks to the right, VIP entrances to the left.
Did you know that the out-of-town scoreboard is covered by a black chain 1ink fence?
A recent view of the Bud deck in progress
Looking for some detail
Another piece of the neighborhood puzzle: the Northstar platform.
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)
Some details are visible here, like the back of an escalator.
The Ceremony (VIP in the crowd)
"I've never seen them do that before," said a Metropolitan Club waiter as I snapped this picture.
OK, it doesn't really look like that at all...
Showing more of the context for the louvers.
Looking through the transit hub
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.
Off-topic, but this gigantic, cool, retro sign is just across the street from S&CH. Why? I don't know. Might look nice on top of one of those municipal parking ramps...
The Ron Coomer corner features a bar.
Though there's nothing there now, you have to believe they'll find a way to add a party deck up there at some point.
The parking bay structure is now clearly visible
This is the LRT path looking from the ballpark site (behind me) toward downtown. The line currently ends about two blocks up this street. This bridge over I-394 is also being partially rebuilt as part of the ballpark project.
A portrait of the 573 Club.
A familiar view through the top floor elevator lobby window in ramp B (HRP View and Terrace).
Dave St. Peter introducing the first physical models of the ballpark in June 2007
Here's what they do in April at Comerica Park
Glare from the IDS never looked this sweet. (Photo by Jared Wieseler)
Love the red flowers -- just like the original concept drawings. That NEVER happens.