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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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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.


Here's one big problem with a retractable roof: completely terrible seating in left. These scant few seats would have been tucked under the track. No sunshine, no open concourse, it was a terribly kludgy idea. With some hindsight, it's very clear that adding a retractable roof on this small site would have required compromises which would have just been too extensive to tolerate. Without it, the design was free to grow into something much more memorable.



Welding workers



Look beyond the gigantic hand (a hounds tooth jacket? really?) and you'll get a glimpse of the main grandstand configuration. The two (or is it three?) levels of suites are visible, as is the design of the so-called "split upper deck," and the extensive use of limestone for decorative accents. Let's hope these little touches don't get cut as costs increase, because they make a nice tie-in from the outside of the park to the inside. Of most interest to me is the way that the very best seats are physically separated from all the rest of the seats by that limestone. There will be virtually no way to sneak into these seats. On one level, that's a somewhat sad design feature...



Viewed from up Sixth Street (that's Target Center on the left), you can get an idea of how the connection is currently planned. As it stands now, the plaza will extend to that support pillar, from which a stairway will empty to the sidewalk below. If they get their wish, additional support structures will provide a walkway along Target Center which will gradually (without stairs) meet the sidewalk somewhere up near First Avenue.






Looking through it, you can see the outfield pavilion (upper deck at least).






First, an overview. The base of the plaza here will meet the base of Sixth Street at Second Avenue.



The view from section 210



The finished product. Note that, at the very bottom of this image, you can just barely see the tops of the windows which look into the Champion's Club. (Home Plate Box)












Note the gigantic -- and very permanent -- M's on the gates at the base of these stairs.



This guy at the Puckett atrium chef stand caught me taking the picture and said I should stop back later because he was "just getting started." I still don't know what he meant.



Site of the proposed new Atlanta Braves ballpark. Look familiar?



Here's a first view of the surprisingly spacious walkway on Fifth between the ballpark and the LRT platform.






Wow! Looking good.



Looking northeast from the ballpark site (Source: LP)



Note that, even though the scoreboard appears strategically placed, it's the outfield stands which block any potential view of the field from this roof.












A few weeks ago there were sand volleyball courts here. When the park opens, this will be surface parking. Maybe one day there will be something more interesting built on top of that parking...



Uh oh. Schizophrenia.



Section 117, Row WC (applies to all the back rows under the Legends Club seating)



The wooden louvers are in on Fifth Street






I see an opportunity in this view for an Abbey Road-style promotional photo! Mauer, Morneau, Nathan and Cuddyer walking toward the ballpark. The only question: which one takes off his cleats?












Ballpark elevation viewed from Seventh Street. (Click to enlarge.)



The art panels on the Fifth Street facade as viewed from the top of the Minnekahda building.






Gate 29 "Carew" is at right.



Flowers and Hall-of-Fame plaques. Very nice.



Click to enlarge.



Fencing is going up all along the plaza



The HERC side, viewed from Fifth Street.



Dugout Box and Champion's Club sections are sequestered by separate moats






"Hey look! There we are!"



Handshakes all around (there's gonna be a lot of that over the next few weeks)












This would be easy to miss, but I found it on a cart located directly behind the Batter's Eye seating on the upper concourse in center field.





Glossary

BPM - Ballpark Magic

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit

DSP - Dave St. Peter

FSE - Full Season Equivalent

FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

HPB - Home Plate Box

HRP - Home Run Porch

LC - Legends Club

LRT - Light Rail Transit

MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)

NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium

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