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A Great First Impression

April 12, 2007 10:32 PM

Signature Trees?

Signature trees?

Wow, what a day. Wow, what a ballpark. There's so much to write that I truly don't know where to begin.

But I must get this out right away: These drawings show vision and imagination. They show consideration for the game and the fans. My first impression is almost wholly positive.

The biggest thing that grabs me is how much it doesn't look like any other ballpark in the majors -- outside or inside. This is most definitely not a cookie cutter design. There are aspects which are obviously descended from features at other very recent HOK-designed parks. In fact, the HOK style is all over the place. But it's mitigated by the needs of the site, which seems to have forced some genuine creativity.

Ryan, Oliva, Gardenhire, Molitor

Just some of the lumiaries who turned out for the unveiling (Terry is clearly thinking about Sidney Ponson).

There appear to be no forced attempts at fake history. It's closer to say that this park tries to establish itself as a model for parks of the future rather than an echo of parks in the past. I've argued for this approach for as long as I've been writing about ballparks, and I was very relieved to see nothing cloyingly phony about the design.

From a game perspective, I don't think anyone will be able to call this a bandbox. The projected playing field dimensions (339-377-404-367-328) are respectable, the fence heights are a little taller than we may wish in spots (good luck robbing homers on the 23-foot fence in right -- maybe a ladder!), but it does appear to meet the definition of a neutral park at first glance. The wind patterns are a wild card which could change this, and it's hard to know how much wind has been considered in the design. Average temperature and relative humidity will also be determining factors, and the jury is still out on these as well.

Limestone Wall

The limestone theme is apparently carried to the area behind home plate. This will look great -- and distinctive -- on TV. But watch out for those foul balls!

Most importantly, many of the principles of Philip Bess' City Baseball Magic are really embodied in this design. Not only are his transportation principles met (simply by site selection alone), but his ideas about fan proximity to the field and patron circulation appear to have been incorporated. This is most obvious in the almost total lack of external circulation (which appears to be primarily incorporated into the concourses). It's yet to be seen whether residential and retail space pops up nearby (another of Bess' key principles), but the chances are really quite good.

Gate 29

"Hey, Ma, it says here we go in at gate 34. Must be all the way around on the other side!" Seriously, though, this is a really inspired idea.

There are some really nice small touches in the design:

- Gates numbered for Twins greats (a fan suggestion)

- Minnesota greenery in the batter's eye (a fan suggestion)

- Knotholes along 5th Street for free glimpses of the game (a fan suggestion)

- Heated playing field (no flame-throwers or snow-outs here)

- 360-degree view of the game from the concourses (now becoming common in ballparks, but not easy to create)

- Whether intentional or not, the left field pavilion echoes Met Stadium nicely

- Heated indoor seating and viewing areas (other than suites)

- Trees incorporated at key spots (such as the pedestrian bridge over I-394)

- The view when approaching the main entry gates (from the pedestrian bridge) will be spectacular!

Earl Santee

Earl Santee, principle architect for HOK Sport, presents some concepts while Mike Opat listens

...and there are a few initial quibbles:

- A fair amount of homers will land in the trees or bullpens (instead of fans' gloves)

- Nothing is shown for the roof of the parking ramp (the city of Minneapolis really needs to step up here)

- The concept of the "split upper deck" appears to have been dropped (in some of the renderings)

- The lighting is built into the "canopy" rather than in towers (which offered an opportunity for Twin-ism)

- No field-level seating in the outfield (viewing through the fence)

- Two levels of suites push the upper deck into some pretty serious nose-bleed territory (the drawings do not contain dimensions, so this is just an impression at this point)

- Horizontal circulation in the seating areas appears to have been sacrificed because of space

- Still potentially not enough women's restroom fixtures (1.5:1 vs. 1.33:1 in the Metrodome, should approach 2:1)

...and a few areas of curiosity not yet satisfied:

- How will the rail stations be integrated?

- What about heat for the fans not in enclosed areas?

- What does that entry tower at the north (left field) corner look like? What function?

- What's the average number of seats per row?

Carl Pohlad

- Average leg room?

- Average (or uniform) seat width?

- Aisle width in seating bowl?

- Seating color scheme?

- Facades on the 5th Street side and garbage burner side (which will be visible when approaching from the northeast)

There were some grand proclamations (which have a chance of being accurate):

"Minnesota's new ballpark will be an inviting landmark and an intimate venue..."

"...we will build one of the great urban ballparks in America."

"The ballpark connects with fans whether they arrive by foot, bike, bus, car, light rail or commuter rail."

...and a bit of hyperbole:

"The new ballpark will reflect Minnesota's dynamic blend of urban sophistication and outdoor vitality."

"...a cosmopolitan expression of Minnesota's natural beauty..."

" outdoor baseball fan's dream..."

...and even something truly puzzling:

"Fissures, or gaps, in the stone enclosure...will create unique viewing opportunities..." Huh? Are we to measure the life expectancy of this park in geologic time?

Flag Pole Alley

Look at all those flag poles! But wouldn't the one from Met Stadium look great just inside the gates in the middle of that entrance plaza?

I also heard plenty of references to Wrigley Field today. Of course, everyone wants to believe they're getting another Wrigley, but that's not what this park will be. Nor would we really, in our heart of hearts, want it to be.

What we've wanted -- well, at least what I've wanted -- is a great park to call our own. Not a copy of, or an emulation of, or an evocation of, or even a reference to somewhere else. Nothing multi-purpose or utilitarian or plain (or cement or blue or domed or even roofed). Minnesota is unique. Our team and its organization is unique. The ballpark should be unique, and I think this one looks like it may very well be.

Today's been a whirlwind! At one point today I found myself standing between Paul Molitor, Terry Ryan, Dave St. Peter, Jerry Bell and Gardy! At another point I found myself standing in front of a KARE-11 camera (Shane and I were featured in the same story!). Carl Pohlad looked me in the eye, for heaven's sake (and smiled a little, I think).

Thanks for stopping by for this big day. Please stop back over the next few days as I'll try to draw out some details which are worth considering.

Special note to anyone who was hoping I'd profile all the other potential ballpark sites when it looked like this one was going to fall through: My first alternate was always the garbage burner site, with the land next to the Mall of America as a close second. But I absolutely loved the idea of building on the K-Mart site in south Minneapolis, in part because it's close to my house, and in part because it's just across Lake Street from where Nicollet Park used to stand. Much as I would have loved to delve into these sites some more -- as well as a dark horse site at Snelling and I-94 in St. Paul (the Metro Transit land on the NE corner)-- I had some indications that things were going to get settled, and decided it was best not to stoke that flame any more...


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So, where is "our" flagpole?

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 01:05 AM by B.W. McEvers (Ben) Highlight this comment 1

My quibble is about the pedestrian plaza over 394. Do we really need/want a closeup view of a freeway as we walk to the game? If you are going to build over most of the freeway anyway, finish the job so we don't have to see it or hear it at all.

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 07:42 AM by Craig in MN Highlight this comment 2

Couple questions:

-Is water involved at all??

-Whats the deal with the "plants" I heard ring the top of the outfeild fence??

-Any info on the scoreboard??

-Is there going to be a release of any more concrete drawings than these sketches??? If you look at other stadium designs by HOK (Nationals like you referenced, Yanks, Mets), they all have digital looking plans that give you a better odea of actual you know if they will have that for us soon?

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 11:16 AM by Excited Highlight this comment 3

I believe this ballpark to be "retro".
Please remember, many old ballparks were
built/designed specifically for baseball. The Twins' new venue might not
show certain characteristics that are on
ballparks which have opened since 1992,
but it is built/designed for baseball.
Real grass and an outdoor presence are a
part of this identity as well, so it is

I also reject the notion that no roof will be on this stadium. No retractable
roof is planned, yet the upper deck will
feature a cantilevered roof that offers
unobstructed cover to fans on that level. Plenty of outdoor sports venues
have roofs (such as Kauffman Stadium,
RFK Stadium, Turner Field, PNC Park,
Wrigley Field, Anaheim Stadium, Oriole
Park, and Coors Field). Thanks for your

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 11:50 AM by Chris Highlight this comment 4

Don't sell yourself short! It sounds like they are going to try to incorporate the flag pole. That's your baby 100%

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 12:22 PM by Freealonzo Highlight this comment 5

Have you heard what is on the RF wall and above the bullpens in the drawings? Is seems like they're scoreboards, but I'm not sure. You heard anything about a hand operated scoreboard or a minor league affiliate scoreboard?

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 12:29 PM by Mylometer Highlight this comment 6

About your comment "- Horizontal circulation in the seating areas appears to have been sacrificed because of space". The drawing does show that there is in the field level seats, running just short from foul pole to foul pole. Thus deviding the field level seats into two sections. This was one of my suggestions that I submitted to the team. It also appears that the upper half of those seats are raised up (like those in the old Comiskey Park in Chicago), allowing fans to see over the top of peoples heads that walk by. Wrigley Field does not have that step up and when fans stroll by, they constantly block your view. I love that this was incorporated into the design here.

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 1:19 PM by John Highlight this comment 7

Love it.

Posted on April 13, 2007 at 6:21 PM by Chris Highlight this comment 8

This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.

"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.

Sometime in the late 1980s: B ramp is under construction. Not yet built: Target Center, I-394 and the A ramp.

Scoreboard in profile against the skyline

Walkway construction is progressing

Look at all those flag poles! But wouldn't the one from Met Stadium look great just inside the gates in the middle of that entrance plaza?

View from the batter's eye seats

Some brick work out in the centerfield pavilion.

Lots of folks working behind those ticket windows

Looking across the plaza toward the main ticket area.

This is the back of the Cisco Field scoreboard, showing video to folks out on the plaza.

Knothole non-view #2

Dave St. Peter introducing the first physical models of the ballpark in June 2007

Seat logos in place

Griffith Stadium (notch visible in lower photo at far left)

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.

Freight trains run in very close proximity (Jerry Bell was standing at my left elbow when I took this picture)

Another classic space in the making above the Hrbek gate.

Gate 34 Puckett

The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)

Dramatic night-time lighting.

Door to the visitor's clubhouse.

Viewed from another angle, you can see that the bullpens now sit beneath the upper deck outfield seating.

I meant to include this shot the other day. It's the new LRT bridge being built next to the remaining half of the Fifth Street bridge. The new half is almost TWICE the width of the portion torn down. And the other end runs right into a HERC administration building! (Click to see the view from nearly the same spot about 85 years ago.)

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.

This design has a rather generic quality to it, but they appear to have considered the B garage. Though it isn't part of the model, they've clearly left room for it.

You have to wonder just what happened here. Will it remain forever embedded in cement?

The circulation ramp on the north now has its louver framing.


BPM - Ballpark Magic

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit

DSP - Dave St. Peter

FSE - Full Season Equivalent

FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

HPB - Home Plate Box

HRP - Home Run Porch

LC - Legends Club

LRT - Light Rail Transit

MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)

NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium

TF - Target Field

Selected Bibliography - Analysis


First Edition (1992)

Second Edition (2006)


Selected Bibliography - Surveys


Second Edition (1987)

Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title

(2000, large coffee table)

Original edition (2000, round)

Revised edition (2006, round)

(2001, medium coffee table)

(2002, small coffee table)

(2003, medium coffee table)

(2004, very large coffee table)

(2006, very large coffee table)

Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)

Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia


Book and six ballpark miniatures

Complete Bibliography

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