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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


This page was last modified on July 31, 2010.



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Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.


A closer look at the louvers



Site plan for the new Nationals ballpark, with the size of the Rapid Park site overlaid



Sometime in the late 1980s: B ramp is under construction. Not yet built: Target Center, I-394 and the A ramp.



The Polo Grounds (left) and Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium)



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.






7:32 PM Glare begins at about the left field foul pole.















This looks toward the middle of the park. The third base side of the Legends Club is to the right up ahead, while the 573 Club is just barely visible at the end of the hallway. It extends to the left.






Double plays will be turned here.



The beautiful Promenade has become a sea of temporary barricades. (Smoker's Row outside the unnumbered gate)



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.



A little more imaginative is the circulation building for Northstar.



No griping here.



The lights went on, and it was a Good Thing



Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).






Here is the most recent outfield configuration, captured from the animation video. We probably shouldn't make too much of the logos seen on the scoreboard: Best Buy, Dairy Queen, Target, Pepsi, Dodge and Qwest...






At TF, you never know when you may bump into a Pohlad



Better them than me



You can get a hand-carved sandwich, or ice cream while pondering the career of Julio Becquer.






How many times did we water down our field as kids? More times than we played games, that's for sure!



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






Supports for the little sections in the outfield.



Lots of speakers, but in some places, no sound.



Dan Mehls, Mortenson Construction















Artist at work



This is a great spot for casually watching the game.






Saturday afternoon, KMSP-HD 720P



I suppose that one day my son will graduate from Mrs. Fields to Hooters. At least he won't have to travel too far. *Shudder*



Also viewed from the B ramp, that's the upper deck in left field.



The plaza as viewed from across the park. The right field overhang section will be built just in from where the plaza supports are.



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!

















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BPM - Ballpark Magic

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HPB - Home Plate Box

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MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

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NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

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