On their way to the sunshine and green grass of Florida, the Boys of Next Summer stopped at a decidedly less-dreary Metrodome to meet with the fans.
TwinsFest, which we missed last year because of its relocation, certainly felt familiar but freshened from past years. I think that the absence of a year, for many folks, made the heart grow a little bit fonder toward this old stalwart. And despite coming off a lousy season, everybody seemed so gosh darn happy.
And that new Metrodome roof was so much more cheery than the old one. It probably would be tougher on baseball players, but every time the sun came out, it caused a dramatic change in the mood of the place. Why couldn't they have done that 20 years ago?
We had a great time, and I took some photos.
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The new roof shines
Everyone who was there must admit it: We love baseball. Even when our team isn't at its top form, baseball remains the promise of a summer which just keeps on giving. Why else would we plunk down real money (my total for the event was $70, admittedly maybe not your definition of "real" money) to walk around and just look at some baseball stuff -- some of which we've seen before?
Well, there's the chance that we'll bump into a player or two. OK, that doesn't really happen anymore, at least not in an uncontrolled situation. But you can run into the ballpark organist, which is its own thrill.
The nearest I could tell, Sue was just attending the event. I happened to turn around after taking a picture of my kids by a World Series trophy to find her standing behind me, trying to get close to the trophy case.
As always, she was gracious in being recognized, and happy to explain to the kids what she does: "I'm the one who goes dum-dum-dum-dum-da-dum on the organ." After we took a picture with her, she moved back toward the exhibit and didn't get recognized again in the whole time we hovered nearby looking at the various artifacts.
The bane of this TwinsFest, like all others, is those autograph lines. They are impossibly long, snaking throughout the floor, and tying up people who appeared to all wish they were doing something else. In a couple of cases, I didn't even recognize the Twins they were waiting for.
The addition of colored wristbands appears to have helped somewhat for the bigger names. But I talked to one fan who had arrived at the crack of dawn just to get in line for a wristband to give her the chance of getting Joe Mauer's autograph. In the end, she got the wrong color. But she was philosophical, saying that the process had actually had saved her a lot of time.
Could this be fixed? Absolutely. Here's how:
1. Sell tickets for autographs only in advance, either online or at the Target Field box office.
2. Put a time on each ticket just like they do at museums.
3. No one can get in line before their time, and there are just enough tickets sold for each window of time.
This is not rocket science, though there is some experimentation and projection involved, and it would require finding a provider for the software if it's not available in house. But one call to the Minnesota History Center or the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and you've got that covered. They do that sort of thing all the time.
So, as an autograph-seeker, you have to do some virtual waiting, but then your ticket will show you exactly when to arrive in order to get your autograph. Max wait time: 15 minutes. And all the money is handled securely, no player needs to feel like he's disappointing anybody left standing in line when his time is up, and everybody is happy.
And the lines would take up so much less space and be so much less annoying and soul-deadening! Just saying.
We ate some hot dogs and cotton candy (they were out of pizza, imagine that). We hit some whiffle balls. Ninjas taught us how to swing (don't ask; I don't know the answer). There was much jumping and bouncing, plus a bit of climbing and sliding. I said, "stay together" about 500 times, and still had to chase after the younger one a couple of times as he wandered absentmindedly into the crowd.
Mostly, we just soaked it all in.
Outside, it barely felt like January. Inside, it felt like a baseball season about to begin.
"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.
"Hey look! There we are!"
The first completed mural
For those who have never seen it up close, that's what it looks like when steam comes out of the HERC plant.
Sometime in the late 1980s: B ramp is under construction. Not yet built: Target Center, I-394 and the A ramp.
Stepping inside the circulation building
The view from my seats in Section 237 (The Trap), Row 1 (can't see much of center field without standing up...)
This is amazingly close to completed. It's a short tunnel entrance ramp to 394 underneath the outfield stands.
"I've never seen them do that before," said a Metropolitan Club waiter as I snapped this picture.
Handshakes all around (there's gonna be a lot of that over the next few weeks)
And another angle looking at the overhang area of the right field pavilion. This looks to me like a great area to watch a game.
Look beyond the gigantic hand (a hounds tooth jacket? really?) and you'll get a glimpse of the main grandstand configuration. The two (or is it three?) levels of suites are visible, as is the design of the so-called "split upper deck," and the extensive use of limestone for decorative accents. Let's hope these little touches don't get cut as costs increase, because they make a nice tie-in from the outside of the park to the inside. Of most interest to me is the way that the very best seats are physically separated from all the rest of the seats by that limestone. There will be virtually no way to sneak into these seats. On one level, that's a somewhat sad design feature...
Loading docks to the right, VIP entrances to the left.
Lots of people are doing it.
The Ballpark Authority at work (Source: RP)
This is where you will put out your butts -- I mean enjoy some pretty flowers.
The french fry lights were on!
Fan number 3,030,673 came through this gate a few moments after I took this picture.
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.
A view of construction from the B ramp. This looks toward Seventh Street, over what will be Gate 34 (the main entrance).
Here is one of the concept drawings referenced (but not shown) in the MPR story (conceptual ballpark at left, LRT tracks switched to the north half of the Fifth Street bridge, which is actually in all of the long-range plans).
Viewed from another angle, you can see that the bullpens now sit beneath the upper deck outfield seating.
I didn't check the menu too closely, but it looks like all the standard fare is available, and not much of the non-standard stuff.
Click to see the full-size image.
Detail on the main gate, with Target Field sign
Walkway sneak peek
Main concourse, looking toward the admin building.
This is what it looked like during the first open house in March.
This is NOT Twins Territory anymore
Section A, Row WC
Seventh inning sing-along.
Up close, this is what you'll see as you walk along.