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Wind Tunnel?

December 14, 2006 12:08 PM

I'm still waiting for more images of the concept design to surface. The Twins seem to be guarding this pretty closely, though I think that anything shown at a public meeting of a public body (i.e. the Hennepin County Board) must legally be accessible for public viewing. But the hunt goes on.

Meanwhile, I saw an interesting comment today over at The Hardball Times in an article about Petco Park:

During its first two years of existence, Petco was the single most difficult place to hit a home run in all of baseball. In 2006, it jumped all the way to the middle of the pack, to a level higher than had been seen during the Padres' final seasons at Qualcomm Stadium. Many possible explanations for this phenomenon exist. Two of the more likely are:

* buildings constructed beyond the outfield have changed wind patterns that may have kept more balls from leaving the yard;

* pitchers have grown accustomed to the way Petco Park plays and are more susceptible to making mistakes high in the zone because they believe—consciously or otherwise—that they can get away with it

It started me thinking about the air flow into and across the top of the new park. I'm not an expert in this regard, and would love to hear from someone with more understanding, but I'll take a quick stab.

Ballpark In a Trench

The rough outlines of our urban trench. (North is up.)

There is no question that the park is to be built in the middle of a sort of urban trench. The land is low-lying compared to everything around it because it was used for so long as a channel for railroad tracks. The playing surface will be roughly at the same level as the driving surface of I-394, which also runs down this same trench and actually served to widen it when it was built.

It's become fashionable to build ballparks in big holes, moving the playing surface well below the surrounding terrain. This is often sold as a means of controlling the effect of the wind, though it also aids significantly in managing the flow of people (upon entering, half go up and half go down). That's not an option here because of what lies beneath the site (an underground river, among other things).

The southeast "wall" of the trench is the row of parking ramps and warehouses which form the psychological edge of downtown. The northeast "wall" is also a row of old warehouses.

Since our prevailing winds come from the northwest, and the diamond looks like it will be oriented due east, the upper winds will certainly favor the left-handed hitters (as will the short dimensions in right).

The trench factor, on the other hand, has the potential to channel winds either from the southwest or northeast -- either of which will affect right-handed hitters.

Based on this simple look, it appears that no matter how you slice it, winds will increase the likelihood that this park will be a hitter's paradise.

The wild card, of course, is the potential for tall condo buildings built very nearby, most likely to the northeast. This is why the Petco article caught my attention. Our hitter's paradise could become a positive Shangra-La if big buildings block winds from the northwest and unleash the power from the right side of the plate.

Now, this is pretty rough, and I'd love to know if there is any other research out there on how nearby tall buildings affect the airflow around ballparks.

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I know this is off-topic, but Star-Trib sports columnist Sid Hartman reports that the entire Twins ballpark project may be in jeopardy because Hennepin County is having a very difficult time reaching a deal to buy the largest parcel of land on which the ballpark will sit.
Apparently, the owners of the land, knowing the time constraints involved in the project, are using this as leverage to extract a price that the county is saying it will not pay. County commissioner Mike Opat and Twins president Jerry Bell are quoted at length in the column.
Entrepreneur Bruce Lambrecht is involved in the limited partnership that owns the land. I recall reading that this group had negotiated a contingency with the county to sell the land, but the agreement expired at the beginning of 2005.
I realize that many of Sid's columns take on an alarmist tone, but it is the quotes -- on the record by Opat and Bell -- that are ominous.
Incidentally, taking the land by eminent domain may not be realistic, due to the lengthy legal process involved.

Posted on December 31, 2006 at 1:26 PM by Chris Highlight this comment 1

The ballpark should house a proshop entirly devoted to Twins merchandise. The left field corner seats seem to obstruct them from the score board. Whats obstructing it? The replica looks great. Building it with out a retractable roof seems better, making it seem like more of a ballpark. On Febuary 15th they officaly unvail the design, and I'll be there!!!

Posted on January 31, 2007 at 2:08 PM by sam krainak Highlight this comment 2

sorry sam, piece of shit bruce lambrecht delayed the official unvailing for the 15th, give us our land dbag we want to see our ballpark.

Posted on February 18, 2007 at 4:34 PM by Kevin Highlight this comment 3

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Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.


No griping here.






They help create a psychological safe area along the plaza edge, and help you forget that cars are zipping by directly beneath you.









Before the team came out to warm up, Kirby Puckett, Jr. was playing Frisbee out in center.



I think AP is in there somewhere...






This is what I was working on while my photo was taken (click to see a VERY BIG version).






That's part of the wind veil, waiting in the B ramp for installation






If you are into shade, there are lots of opportunities. This is from the last row in section 108 -- scoreboard not blocked in the least.



That is the gun-metal gray wall of The Stadium just beyond the elevated tracks.



This is the staircase (ramp?) leading up to the trapezoid. Nice flagpole too. You'll be able to find me and Ben McEvers at the base of that flagpole on opening day in 2010!



Our cantilever friends will be happy to learn that there will be sections with views like this in the new stadium.



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:



The Puckett atrium fireplace is just barely visible at the far left.






The Northstar station at night






Detail showing clubhouse and home dugout (click to see the entire drawing)



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.



Photo by Tyler Wycoff



Sign installer dude



Miller Park: Gymnasium with skylight (Source: RP)



Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)



This is the start of construction on the Northstar platform which will feed under the bridge and to a lobby with escalators and elevators just inside the ballpark's public concourse. Compared to the ballpark construction, this looks kind of puny. But the work just to get the trains to come has been positively Herculean. Future generations will look back at this with awe.



From last week, you can see the piers taking shape. I believe that the front row, visible here as just forms and reinforcing rods, is the front edge of the plaza.












Playing surface dirt out there? Maybe. (click to enlarge)






Team pennant. (Click to enlarge.)






Close-up on the diagram of the Club Level with finishing materials (click to enlarge)









Click to enlarge greatly.



Saturday afternoon, KMSP-HD 720P






Section A, Row WC



June 29,1936 - May 17, 2011






A mass of rebar and complicated cable runs ready for a pour.









The view from our seats. I took this picture while standing, and the railing would prove mildly problematic when I sat down -- but not as much as my scorecard, which I always seemed to be holding right in Vic's view of the plate (she told me so).



Seville's certainly will benefit from 81 games a year played about a block away! (When I walked by on this day, the place looked deserted, but I stand corrected!)


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