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
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Killebrew taught, "Always make your autograph legible, boys."
One thing that the design disguises nicely is that the Pro Shop (and other key components) are actually built over lanes of freeway. That can clearly be seen here.
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
View level as seen through the Seventh Street circulation ramp
Gate 29 escalators
Scoreboard installation in progress
One of the many supports being built over the tracks.
The gate has grown a row of sponsorship
Overview of the storage tracks.
ATM-style ticket machines have appeared beneath the steps to the B ramp (you can also enter the B ramp directly by walking past the ticket machines)
There's the opening through which the groundskeeping equipment will emerge (and disappear).
Here's a curious little room at the end of the circulation ramp. What could they be selling there?
Looking toward the Farmer's Market site from the balcony of the 573 Club at TF
Delmon Young getting warmed up
Field access on the visitor's side
Nine spots for hops bats.
Up inside the circulation building. (That's the LRT platform visible through the windows.)
An early concept for the pedestrial bridge. (Source: Ballpark Authority, RP)
8:02 PM It's at peak, affecting mostly the upper deck.
Kirby Jr. set to take down the last number
Site plan for the new Nationals ballpark, with the size of the Rapid Park site overlaid
Greatest spot in the city for cooking up some hot dogs. And would you kill for that grill?
Emergency access viewed in context
Comerica Park main entrance: Tigers, bats, and much (maybe too much) more (Source: LP)
Circulation building with construction team on top