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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Door to the visitor's clubhouse.
Circulation ramps: Wrigley (classic, integrated) and Kauffman (modern, external)
From the revised site plan, this is the configuration of Gate 34 Puckett.
Purple flowers above Second Avenue
They help create a psychological safe area along the plaza edge, and help you forget that cars are zipping by directly beneath you.
Click to enlarge.
A spot that's always full!
Dramatic night-time lighting.
Sunday afternoon, WFTC-HD 720P
Click to see the whole page from this 1971 program.
Circulation building with construction team on top
Photo by Jeff Ewer
A Hrbek tribute wall marks the end of the Carew side of the club
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.
Looking back toward First Avenue
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.
A mysterious smile from within a very deep planter!
New section labels, but some curious choices.
This will be a great neighborhood. Note that the covering is being built for the emergency access. Also, note the streamers above, which appear to be monitoring air flow.
Snow-blowing the field
This shows the area where the Northstar platform connects with the ballpark (that translucent oval). Above that is the area which will house the Twins operations offices.
Integrating the administration building was really a great idea. Actually, there will be more things inside than just offices, but that will probably be some sweet space.
Look familiar? Unfortunately, just adding little balconies with cool angles will not offset the pervading ugliness.
Puckett atrium chef stand menu
The plate marker is just to the left.
Solution for a hot night, just inside Gate 34 (that's a cool mist, by the way, not hot steam, which would be kind of cruel)