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 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Home Plate Box, Section 111, Row 8 or 9-ish (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Inexplicable bright yellow baseball amid the trees.
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.
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.
Just to the right, more ticket machines. These things are everywhere.
No admittance -- yet! Note that you can see the seating bolts which are in place already.
Our host points to the Puckett Atrium on the diagram.
Some baseball legends (and Ron Coomer)
This looks south and shows how the Northstar tracks are sheltered by the promenade above. This is the side which faces the HERC plant.
The steel cage expands.
From the roof of the Minnekahda building (courtesy Bruce Lambrecht).
The completed promenade
A path for workers -- don't touch the plaza! -- in front of three giant Chia pets
This is the Suite Level. There are multiple suites between each pillar, and there will be seating on the area in front of the suites which currently looks like it could be a walkway.
Another classic space in the making above the Hrbek gate.
Legend's Club, Section E (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Here's a detail from the above image, showing the LED strips up close.
A closer look into the park from down the street. How great will this view be during a game??
The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)
Crosswalk taking shape.
The tracks on the right will be moved to the newly-cleared area on the left. The edge of the ballpark will be about where the rocks and dirt meet.
For those not wishing to suffer through my media rant, please enjoy this picture of my lilacs in full bloom.
Here you can see the real beauty of the Seventh Street side, and get a solid sense of why the overall design really works. The building's purpose is clearly visible, there are numerous connections from inside to outside, scale is nicely mitigated, the stone is attractively used, materials are pleasantly mixed and truly complementary. It's just a winner in so many ways.
Some fun field facts. (Click to enlarge.)
Earl Santee, principle architect for HOK Sport, presents some concepts while Mike Opat listens