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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
It's pretty easy to see right into the Twins dugout!
B ramp glimpse
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
A whole bunch of guys working on something.
This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.
Note the speakers hanging beneath that deck
The connection from the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue. You can now see where the little grassy area and franchise history board will be (the triangular area in the foreground).
Hubert's remains the only sports bar within site of the Dome after 28 years of its existence. It's a cautionary tale.
Click to see the whole page from this 1971 program.
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)
This would be easy to miss, but I found it on a cart located directly behind the Batter's Eye seating on the upper concourse in center field.
Two signs visible from beyond the confines of the ballpark.
Seventh Street windows
This is the view from where the plaza will connect to the walkway on the west side of Target Center. This presumably aids traffic flow back to the A ramp, and perhaps to the skyway connection (though the doors to the skyway right there are typically exit only).
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:
After the rain. (We were in the wrong spot to see the rainbow...)
Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)
Home Plate Terrace -- really great seats; maybe my personal, budget-based favorite
You write the caption...
Here's a detail from the above image, showing the LED strips up close.
Looking down Sixth Avenue toward the plaza
Checking out the bike racks on the promenade.
Lots of pix waiting to be seen from Bert's memorable night.
Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
(Click to enlarge.)
Since pictures of the ballpark are forbidden, perhaps you'll enjoy this shot of the lovely apple tree in my front yard.
Staging for the next section (Home Plate Box)
This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.