November 16, 2008 12:35 PM
Our tour continues with some steps out onto the plaza through the Killebrew gate:
The changes to be seen here are incremental, and won't seem to be much of a surprise if you follow the webcam (since it's almost 100% visible there at all times).
But what you cannot see is that the presence of Target as naming partner has made a very large difference on how the plaza will be progressing from this point.
First, let's go out on a ledge:
That's the view up Sixth Street just off the edge of the existing plaza. What is to come here will make a huge difference in how the ballpark is integrated with downtown.
What I did not realize, but learned on my tour, is that Sixth Street will give up a whole lane of traffic to the plaza extension. So instead of just ending in a staircase, or even just snuggling up to Target Center, the plaza will actually be somewhat expansive as it makes its way up to First Avenue.
What's more, the entrance will apparently feature the old Met Stadium flag pole!
At this point I have not seen any concept drawings of how the plaza will meet the street, but I've heard from all involved that the flagpole deal is in the works. (For the benefit of new visitors, nabbing the Twins' original flagpole from the American Legion in Richfield was my idea.)
Now we'll turn around and look back toward the ballpark:
At first glance this may seem somewhat disconcerting. I mean, what the hell is that skyway doing blocking the incredible view of the ballpark?
I think there are some people involved in the process who might want to see it disappear in the long-term. But right now it actually serves as a rather nifty gateway. Just step beneath it and...
...ahhh. There it is.
You can see enough of the park as you approach on Sixth Street to whet your appetite, then you really get a big payoff as you emerge from beneath the offending skyway.
Just for reference, here's how the skyway and plaza interact, as seen from the roof of Target Center:
Let me wax nostalgic for a moment about a couple of concept drawings from long, long ago which originally tweaked my hopes about a new ballpark.
An early concept for St. Paul.
These come from the era when St. Paul was in the running, and I collected them from the coverage at that time. Unfortunately, I was never able to find out either who commissioned them or who drew them.
But they show a downtown ballpark with a plaza and spectacular pedestrian gateway. One even shows the sidewalk running along the center field fence with the urban street grid unaltered. I remember thinking at the time, "That's pretty darn cool, but it will never happen in a million years."
I bring them back now because I'm realizing that, even though these weren't an official part of this process, the coolest parts of these drawings have found their way into Target Field. Yep, we're that lucky.
(You can see more of the earlier failed plans and concept drawings, along with my very first coverage of the Target Field location when it was just known as the "Warehouse District Alternative" back in 2001, by clicking here.)
Do you know who did this drawing? If so, please tell me so I can give them proper credit.
Now back to our current reality...
As you pass under the skyway, look to your immediate right for a bit of house-keeping:
There will be an entrance right there to the B ramp from the plaza level, as well as steps up to the skyway. These are essential connections.
As an aside, there is a very large emergency exit tower located right where the plaza terminates at Seventh Street and Second Avenue (the other side of Target Center). There is some hope that this will one day be another entrance to the skyway after games:
(As a further aside, click the above image to see what that exact same view looked like almost a century earlier. You may be interested to know that for decades the forerunner to today's Farmer's Market, then known as the "City Market", was located on the same block where the plaza now sits. Now, if you're really interested in the history, go up and click on that skyway-gateway picture for an identical comparison. And I've got a few more of these still in my back pocket for another time.)
Walk forward on the plaza toward the ballpark and then turn back to see the city:
A couple of things to note here. First, previous renderings have always shown banners hanging from the B ramp as a sort of pseudo-disguise. Personally, I've always been hoping that the Twins would resurrect the tradition of a gigantic schedule like the one they used to paint on the side of the WCCO building.
But it sounds like beautifying the plaza has been taken to a new level with the introduction of the "Target Field" name. There are currently concepts being considered for a gigantic work of public art which could potentially cover the ramp completely (or at least some portion of it). More details on this are forthcoming since nothing is official just yet.
Additionally, the model and renderings have always shown trees filling these planters. That turns out to have been something of wishful thinking based, in part, on the rather shallow depth of the plaza. Newer concepts actually are still living plants, but not trees exactly. And while I have not seen any drawings, the idea really does sound like an improvement.
Now, here are a few more photos and notes from the plaza tour.
I was surprised at how close those upper deck seats seem. From the plaza, you feel like you can reach out and touch them. It really adds to the impression of overall compactness.
This is where the main ticket office will be.
Apparently, there will be public restrooms accessible directly from the plaza.
That's all I have time for tonight, but there are still pictures coming from the tour of the concourses, the admin building, and the steel work on the outfield stands. Plus, I hope to get down again next week for some fresh looks.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
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"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.
Looking up toward Sixth Street.
The Puckett atrium fireplace is just barely visible at the far left.
The equivalent spot on the model.
The Northstar station at night
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
The glare problem.
These stairs will go up to the centerfield pavilion.
World Series trophies on display at left
This view is from the roof of a warehouse which stood where the A ramp is today. The HERC is now located where the tracks turned north (toward the top).
Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).
Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.
Reverse view, now looking down Sixth toward the park. The Met Stadium flag pole will be right there!
Don Swanson, left, in-coming commander of the Richfield American Legion, and Joe Kennedy, right, out-going commander, are pictured with the Legion's new flag pole, which once stood at old Metropolitan Stadium. (Click to enlarge.)
I took this picture from the Overlook at great personal risk, because everything Thome was hitting was landing out that direction.
Sharing and Caring Hands, as viewed from the ballpark site about a block away. Note transaction in progress in the shadows.
A trailer village has sprung up to the south.
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)
The east wall of the building looks like it will be the first part completed. These are probably supports for the plaza, and they hug the very edge of the site.
Click to see the full-size image.
Two concepts here remain in the final design. First is the oddly-shaped pavilion in center. Second is the section just above the right field fence. In the current design this section will hang over the field by a few feet. The original doesn't do that, but you can see that the concept goes way back in the planning.
A sign that your mall is all but dead: roped off escalators. (This is at about 4:00 PM on a weekday.)
More flowers, more pennants.
Limestone still dominates the Seventh Street walkway from a pedestrian point of view. But brick take over as you move upward -- a concession to cost, no doubt.
Wind veil install from across Seventh
From about two blocks away you can finally get an idea of what it looks like. Just to my left (but out of view) was a valet parking stand where a limo was idling.
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