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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
I do love the upper concourse. Feels like home already.
Section 237, Row 15 (top of the Trap)
Photo by Jared Wieseler
A detail from the above image shows that the section signage is now in place
The mounds have grown seating supports
You can finally see how the plaza will meet the street on the north side of this emergency exit tower (which will be converted to a regular entrance/exit)
Just one lane of traffic and a couple of feet between the fence in right-center and the wall of the parking ramp!
Detail of the Puckett wall hanging
From the roof of the B ramp, you can see just how futile it will be to get a glimpse of the action.
The Polo Grounds (left) and Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium)
Gate 3 "Killebrew"
The Ron Coomer corner features a bar.
Home Plate Box, Section 111, Row 8 or 9-ish (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Typical standing room crowd which started early and lasted the entire game.
Here's the Northstar platform.
Here is where the signature art (original Twins logo) will be placed.
Parking ramp knothole
Looking back toward downtown from the end of the balcony
Peering through Gate 29 -- lots to see
Noah is checking out the ample leg room and truly exemplary sight lines.
Steps going up at Gate 29/Carew
Just so you have a reference, this is an LD ("low def") scoreboard (inset is what the controller probably looks like).
Opening Day 2008 (By Currier & Ives)
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.
You can't get there from here.
Comerica Park main entrance: Tigers, bats, and much (maybe too much) more (Source: LP)
Here are some less intrusive things things you can actually get at the ballpark.
Freight trains run in very close proximity (Jerry Bell was standing at my left elbow when I took this picture)
A look at Gate 34.
The scoreboard also towers over the LRT tracks, which now are functional (though not open) all the way to the park -- and beyond!