Minnesota is something of a climatological miracle, isn't it? This was taken a scant six weeks ago:
Now, the bushes which were beneath that six-foot-tall pile of snow (which I created by hand, I might add, and which got taller after this picture was taken) are once again visible in all their winter-mangled glory.
Unlike Target Field, my grass is brown, kind of squishy, and covered with that unsettling grayish snow mold. But there's a home plate, three bases, and a pitching rubber out there. Batting practice is once again a nightly occurrence.
I can count on one hand the number of days since I had to bundle up the kids in their winter coats, but it seems like a distant memory.
So, for that matter, does Target Field.
When we last left the home of the Twins, it was on the heels of a loss to the Yankees. It's an odd parallel with this year's home opener.
But let's remember that, regardless of the outcome, those glorious October nights were completely perfect for outdoor baseball.
All throughout TF's inaugural season, it seemed like Minnesota itself -- even the shape of the prevailing winds far over our heads -- was glad to have outdoor baseball back.
Last summer seemed a little bit sunnier, a little more perfect, than any of the preceding 28, didn't it? We could all be forgiven for wishing it would never end.
But as I was leaving the last game last season, I remember that sinking sense of ending -- uncertain but palpable. At the time, there was still a chance that the boys would be back for one more game which would, if necessary, decide the ALDS. It was hard to say goodbye to the season and the ballpark that night, and I could not. I wanted to hold on to that chance.
The first season in the park had been so beautiful, full of exploration and wonder -- and great baseball. For every one of us who followed the building of the ballpark closely, there were at least a thousand who had not, and for whom a look in any direction brought a surprise.
Late in the season, I started looking for people having that experience, just to soak in their expressions. And though you could see it on the faces of kids, that was nothing compared to the faces of the older crowd. It was as if the dead had returned to life.
Baseball is a game of life and death, but a ballpark is all about life. The architecture of a good ballpark vibrates with life even when the seats are empty. Target Field does that.
When the seats fill, and the fans begin to breathe in sync with one another, and the shared experience gets stored deep within each person, good ballparks disappear into the moment. Target Field does that.
When the game is done, win or lose, the ballpark becomes a sentinel, a beacon back, a reminder that the game goes on. Good ballparks sleep lightly. Target Field does that.
After the first playoff game, I walked down to the service level, and caught an unexpected, sort of sad sight:
But when I asked the guy what would happen to those bases after he hosed them off, thinking they were about to be whisked off to either Cooperstown or eBay, his response was a bit of a surprise:
"We'll use them again tomorrow night."
There's always a next game. Even when you're watching your favorite team lose a playoff game, and there's no guarantee of another home game before winter, you know at least that there will be a next game.
So I hung around there for as long as I could, peering through the open gate out onto the now-deserted field.
I irrationally figured that, if I stood there long enough, the boys would have to come back and give the season a glorious send-off. Or, if not, maybe I could just curl up in a warm corner and hibernate until spring. (Looking back, that might have been preferred to all the shoveling.)
Eventually, I retreated through the north service gate, thinking warmly of the summer which was ending around me, feeling content that the season and the ballpark had met or exceeded most of my hopes and expectations. Even in disappointment, the Game had been great.
I took a long look back, and a few deep breaths of October air before getting into my car.
So, we didn't get that next game back then, but we're getting it today.
We're going home.
I'll see you there. (11:30 AM, gate 6, for the unveiling of the Tony Oliva statue.)
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Who Owns What (Click for larger version. Source: Ballpark Authority)
Looking up Fifth, with LRT tracks and B ramp at left
This is the revised version of the center field pavilion (without the restaurant). It looks like there are no seats, just some ledges for people to sit on. It reminds me of the seating on the "bridge" which sticks out of the new Guthrie Theater. Anything which lands in the trees will presumably be a home run, so the "411" sign is apparently just for fun.
Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)
Notice that the wooden-backed club seats are now covered by a green tarp for protection from the elements.
Love the red flowers -- just like the original concept drawings. That NEVER happens.
The proposed wooden screen covering the circulation ramp on Fifth Street (at left is the equivalent screen on Seventh Street).
Nine spots for hops bats.
Limestone will cover this pretty soon, but for now you can see where the escalator is.
This is the trapezoid (for lack of a better name) in right center. Be sure to notice section of seats just below the pavilion and above the fence (which I hadn't noticed before). For those who are interested, what looks like an old-style scoreboard is in fact a high-def video board which will look, at times, like an old-fashioned scoreboard.
Because of the scale, it's sometimes hard to realize that there are actual guys down there doing the tough work! Here they are getting ready to pour a footing.
This is the last hope for so-called knot-hole views. I'm skeptical.
The flowers don't have quite the fullness depicted in the original sketches (where they were positively overflowing), but they are quite lovely -- a great, subtle touch. And that's probably a very challenging place to grow anything.
Home Plate Box, Section 111, Row 8 or 9-ish (Click to enlarge greatly.)
One of the many supports being built over the tracks.
The limestone now wraps around onto the HERC side.
Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond
Photo by Jeff Ewer
Locations for ticket machines near the Hrbek outdoor plaza
Here's a closer look at the bullpen area. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think there is still an opening to the concourse right above.
Another over-my-head shot
Time to paint those supports Vikings-purple.
Looking through it, you can see the outfield pavilion (upper deck at least).
Trampled, repaired, and re-trampled grass
More of a bird's-eye view of the same area.
Remember the pitch heard throughout Twins Territory? What an amazing day that was, April 12, 2010. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
Fencing is going up all along the plaza
Here's a curious little room at the end of the circulation ramp. What could they be selling there?
A little higher angle shows how the two stations are close to one another but distinctly separate. The oval, glass-enclosed area is the entrance from the Northstar platform below into the ballpark. The LRT platform is comparable to the other stations along that route.
Touring the Rapid Park site (L-R: Commissioners Wade, Vekich, Sykora, Cramer, and tour guide Chuck Ballentine, source: RP)
Just one lane of traffic and a couple of feet between the fence in right-center and the wall of the parking ramp!
Gate 29 escalators
The view from the Penn Ave entrance to 394 (and all the way into town! Click to enlarge)
I'm too short to see over that wall. How about a little platform or something?