Though the sun barely gets above the treetops, and the temperature can barely heave itself into double-digits, and everybody has gone just a little stir crazy, baseball is now officially on the horizon.
That's the desired effect of TwinsFest, I've come to believe. It's not so much about learning new things or buying stuff or getting the big contract questions answered. It's about being reassured that the game is only resting beneath the snow, about to roar back to life like Volcanus Rex banishing King Boreas once again.
The event itself looks a little like it's due for a reboot, and describing it as a "flea market" does capture some of its essence. But if you know that going in, you can set it aside. I, for one, was pumped up in advance by seeing Clyde Doeppner's enthusiasm clearly on display during a Friday appearance on KSTP.
Clyde, who was once merely a Twins superfan and uber collector, is now employed by the organization as "curator" of their collection. They could not have made a better choice.
And now for those words we all long to here: Pitchers and catchers report on February 21. That's three weeks from today!
A cross section of the field construction. (Click to enlarge.)
One thing I discovered is that TwinsFest is much more difficult to enjoy with a toddler in tow. This is not the fault of the event, of course. Truman (18 months), bless his heart, wanted to be pretty much anywhere but in his stroller, and I got some first-hand experience with that stuff that flies up whenever a ball hits the turf.
In fact, after rolling around on the turf for about one second, he was completely covered in these black plastic flecks which appear to serve only the purpose of attempting to further the unsuccessful illusion of real grass. Since static electricity makes them adhere aggressively, it took me about 10 minutes to brush them out of his hair and clothes, and I was still disposing of them several hours later when it was time for his pajamas.
The turf itself looked to be in pretty worn shape, surprising given its relatively young age, but it might as well be a metaphor for the event. Let's face it: A lot of the things you might really want to see or do have long lines, some of them needlessly. And because the whole thing doesn't change much from year to year, you're kind of left hoping for a random player sighting (which did not happen to us).
The Twins may not be interested in a complete reboot, but here are a couple of ideas which might improve it a little.
1. Tickets for Autographs - Sell them in advance, maybe even online, to guarantee that everyone with a ticket will get an autograph. Then put times on them (like they do at museums, in 10 or 15-minute increments) which tell people when they have to show up. Miss your time and you're out of luck. No more long snakes of people standing for hours on the concourses instead of enjoying the rest of the event. (The stages for prospects seem to work fine as is.)
Cross section diagram of the field structure. (Click to enlarge.)
2. History, History, History - One of the funnest parts of the event is the display from Cooperstown. If it could be bigger, it would be even better. But the Twins now have their own curator, and they should have a HUGE area dedicated to displays of team memorabilia that maybe hasn't ever been seen. That would be worth the price of admission right there. (We didn't get to see Clyde's display this year, so I don't know just how big it was. But nothing would be TOO big here.)
3. Freebies - We got the program as we entered, and I picked up a CD-ROM of prices for facility rental at Target Field, but there wasn't much else to be found -- at least not on the path that we traveled. Keychains. Magnet schedules. Scorecards. Promo photos. Last year's magazines and media guides. Baseball cards. Maybe some of that other leftover junk that would otherwise go on a rummage sale. Baseballs. Wouldn't it be cool if players handed out promo TwinsFest baseballs as they passed from one area to another? Or maybe game tickets?
4. Vendors - I saw one guy selling soda, but like so many other times at the dome, there wasn't a hot dog vendor anywhere to be found. TwinsFest isn't a game, but the more game atmosphere you can create, the better. (We did enjoy the 2-for-1 deal on hot dogs at the food court. $3.50 for 2 dogs!)
Some fun field facts. (Click to enlarge.)
Like I said, the event is just about getting a whiff of baseball in the dead of winter. But some little things could spruce it up a bit.
I promised a closer look at the wind veil, then realized that I don't really have much to say about it. So here's a new video and a few detailed images. The panels do appear to be akin to the size of a baseball card, and the whole thing kind of looks like it's made out of Tinkertoys up close...
Ticket Lottery (Don't Get Your Hopes Up)
Finally, since this was a source of some long discussion, I just want to bump some quick calculations I did in the comments yesterday to get an idea of just how a stadium that holds nearly 40,000 people could only have 1,000 tickets available for the opening day ticket lottery. It's actually not that hard to comprehend.
Media accounts have said that the Twins have sold somewhere near 20K full-season equivalents (FSE). Now this is NOT 20K actual people, of course. It's MORE than that.
In fact, if each of those 20K FSEs was actually made up of people on the 20-game plan (and hypothetically there were no 40-gamers or full season folks at all), there could be as many as 80K actual season ticket holders (that's 20K seats x 4 20-game STHs for each seat).
This means that the actual number of PEOPLE holding season tickets in one form or another must be somewhere between 20K and 80K. Just where it falls exactly between those two extremes is not accessible to us, but that number is important because of what the Twins plan to do with opening day tickets.
The full season folks already have tickets to opening day, of course. And it sounds like the Twins are going to offer opening day tickets to anyone who bought their 40-game or 20-game plan before a certain arbitrary deadline. I'm not sure what that deadline is, but they've set one, and it's already passed.
Now I'm going to make up some numbers, just for the sake of argument, to show how it's possible to have only 1000 tickets available for a public lottery. These are MADE UP NUMBERS!
Let's say that half of the 20K FSEs are full season folks. That's 10K people that already have tickets to opening day.
That leaves 30K tickets remaining.
Now let's say that half of the remainder, or 5000, FSEs are 40-gamers. That's 10K people. Of those, let's just say that 90%, or 9000, bought their packages before the arbitrary cutoff date and will be offered, and likely take, the opportunity to purchase tickets to opening day.
That leaves 21K tickets remaining.
So that would make all of the remaining 5000 FSEs 20-gamers. That's 20K people. And let's say that 80% of them bought before the deadline and will get the chance to buy opening day tickets. That's 18K more tickets sold.
That leaves 3K tickets remaining.
Some tickets will go to players, dignitaries, friends, group sales, etc. Could that get to 2000 tickets? Sure.
40,000 OD tickets available
-37,000 OD tickets used by 40,000 STHs (20,000 FSEs)
1,000 OD tickets remain
Now, I MADE UP these numbers just to show how it's possible to get to only 1000 tickets available for the lottery. You could tweak these numbers and come up with scenarios where there are LESS or MORE available. But you get the idea.
You can also get a sense from this example just how difficult it is for the Twins to figure out what they'll have available. They've certainly done this calculation with the real numbers, and it appears they are telling their reps to say that 1000 is the magic number.
But they won't know for sure until all STHs have purchased up to their limit and all the friends and dignitaries have been identified. That means it will be a while before even THEY know for sure.
Meanwhile, they've got all of Twins Territory clamoring for these tickets...
Hope this helps.
A Word of Thanks
I want to extend a special word of thanks to all who have made generous donations to support this web site since I first put up the Donate button. As promised, I used those donations to offset the need for pay-per-click ads to pay the bills, and banished those ads for as long as I could. I will continue to do the same in the future for any and all donations received.
"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.
Scoreboard installation in progress
This will be a great sight on game nights.
The right field foul pole seen against a backdrop of Butler Square (itself a site of great significance in the history of professional baseball in Minneapolis)
A skyway-level view down Seventh Street.
This is the view from the Seventh Street circulation ramp. It will eventually be covered by the wood louvers.
This would have been the HERC side, though it's unclear just how far over the plant the retracted roof would have gone. My fear was always that they would have to shorten the track and more of the roof would have stayed over the ballpark. The only good retractable roof is one which disappears when not in use. I don't think they could have realistically created such a thing.
Pile driving in progress
One half of those windows are well-used.
(Click to enlarge.)
Some details are visible here, like the back of an escalator.
Where you are, and where you can go.
Detail of the Puckett wall hanging
The green is a composite of the topmost seating areas in the new ballpark. The gray is a scale diagram of the Metrodome.
The electronic sign has been corrected (and never forget that ballpark is one word, not two)
All that's left is to add wood! (Seventh Street circulation ramp.)
The Pohlads were loose. A-Rod looked, um, you decide.
The shade of the canopy gives way to a brief shaft of light. It would do the same again a short while later when the sun passed through that tiny open sliver between the View and Terrace levels.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
The Hrbek gate is directly below. It's a lively place after a game.
Glove from above
Here are some less intrusive things things you can actually get at the ballpark.
(Click to enlarge.)
Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)
At Comerica Park, some aisles have railings and some do not.
These outfield stands will likely remain visible to passersby.
This is as close as I could get to a pedestrian-eye view of the main entrance. This is what you'll see as you enter by coming down Sixth Street.
One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:
Ballpark elevation viewed from the promenade (HERC plant) side. (Click to enlarge.)