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May 9, 2005

The roof

I don't remember much of the old Met. I went to a bunch of games there, and the little snippets of games I do remember I remember fondly. However, when I listen to people talk about the old Met today, I am led to believe that it was always cold, rainy, or snowy, and when they finally did get a chance to play it was usually a double-header (or triple header!) due to all the cancelled games.

Besides the complaint of "No subsidies for billionaires!" the complaint I hear the most concerning the new Twins ballpark is the complaint that, for now, it will not be built with a roof. It won't even be built "roof ready." As the plan sits right now, it will be an open air stadium now and forever. And as much as I would like a roof, I honestly don't understand what all the complaining is about. Baseball was meant to be played outdoors, plain and simple. If the new ballpark is built without a roof, I won't be upset at all.

The big reasons to build a roof on the new ballpark are because it is cold and rainy (possibly snowy) in April, and it is cold in October. How can the Twins 1) draw enough fans, especially out-state fans, when there is no guarantee the game(s) will be played, and 2) how can the Twins compete when no big name free agents are going to want to play in such a cold place? I want to know, are these legitimate concerns?

To get to the answers of these questions I decided to look at the weather of 4 major league cities with climates comparable to the Twin Cities: Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston. You'll note that every one of these cities has an open air ballpark. How do they survive? Is the weather in these four cities that much better than the weather in the Twin Cities? By focusing on the average temperatures in April and October in these cities, the average precipitation over the years in April and October in these cities, and the average yearly rainfall in these cities, I think I get to the answer:

Apr. Hi/LoOct. Hi/LoApr. precipOct. precipAve. year rain
Boston56/4063/474 in.3 in.42 in.
Chicago59/3963/424 in.2 in.35 in.
Cleveland58/3762/443 in.3 in.36 in.
Detroit58/3762/413 in.2 in.34 in.
Minneapolis56/3659/392 in. (+ 2 in. snow)2 in.29 in.

According to this data, Minneapolis is definitely colder, both in April and October, but really, not by very much. In addition, this data definitely shows that Minneapolis has about the same amout of precipitation as these cities in April and October. However, Minneapolis has a relatively small amount of participation per year compared to these other cities. As you can see, on average Minneapolis gets about 29 inches of rain per year. Boston gets 42 inches of rain per year. What are we so worried about rain for?

Since all of these cities get more rain than Minneapolis, you would think that they must have to postpone a lot of baseball games due to inclement weather. Actually, no:

Games Postponed


People, I don't know how to break it to you, but that is it. On average these cities have to cancel about 2-3 games per year. I don't know about you, but I'm not really concerned about that. In fact, I think I might enjoy a couple of double-headers a year. Am I missing something? Why are we so insistent on a roof? Again, I wouldn't mind one, but is it really that necessary?

Finally, I thought, maybe I am missing something. Maybe I should look at the weather on specific days in a particular city and then compare the weather in Minneapolis on those same days. Since we heard so much about Detroit having to cancel games due to snow this year, I decided to look at Detroit's home schedule in April last year. Then I looked at the weather in Minneapolis on those same days:

DateDetroit Hi/LoMinneapolis Hi/Lo
April 8, 200453/3754/37
April 10, 200453/3643/30
April 11, 200446/3544/25
April 13, 200446/3559/29
April 14, 200459/3670/41
April 15, 200459/3974/47
April 23, 200463/4263/43
April 24, 200454/4457/39
April 25, 200473/4463/41
April 27, 200446/3460/33
April 28, 200469/3291/49
April 29, 200480/6077/44

Again, what are we so worried about? The more I look at this data, but more I wonder why we are so concerned about a roofless stadium. According to the table above, the high in Minneapolis was colder than Detroit on only 4 days, and on one of those days it was 77 in Minneapolis! You know what? I think I can handle this.

In conclusion, don't get me wrong, I would love a roof on the new stadium. It would definitely make that handful of games per year a little more comfortable. But I certainly don't think it is a make or break deal. In fact, I think we should all stop whining like a bunch of [insert derogatory put-down here], recognize we live in Minnesota, and start figuring out how we can use our not-so-unique weather to our advantage.

Posted by snackeru at May 9, 2005 8:16 PM | Stadiums


The weather in early April this year was warmer than normal...not good comparison. Ask anyone who has had a kid playing high school ball in early April and the weather can be very cold...often. Regardless of this problem, bring on the new ballpark with or without a roof.

Posted by: roger at May 10, 2005 7:13 AM

I didn't look at this year's weather. I looked at last year's. However, even if we looked at 5 years back I think we would still see simlilarities between the TC and Detroit in terms of weather. If they can handle it, I think I can too.

Posted by: Shane at May 10, 2005 7:17 AM

Excellent analysis Shane!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at May 10, 2005 8:52 AM

Hey! I've been reading a while. First time posting. The problem I have against the new ballpark is that ALL of the arguments FOR the new ballpark are the SAME as the ones they used FOR building the Metrodome. All of these weather worries were the ones they used to convince people that the Twins needed to play inside. Thus, if they build a outdoor ballpark, in 15 or 20 years, they'll bring out the SAME arguments about rain and cold and whatever to get yet ANOTHER ballpark. The Twins SHOULD be still playing in the Old Met! However, while there is plenty wrong with the Metrodome, it is still a workable stadium. More comfortable chairs would be nice. There are a few more things that can be done to the EXISTING stadium. It is just that Pohlad has convinced many fans that without a new stadium he'll take his team and leave. Maybe he will and maybe he won't. However, a refit of the Metrodome is never an option. Why? Just food for thought.

Posted by: Doug at May 10, 2005 9:16 AM

Excellent, except for your sexist crack in the last sentence. You've pointed out that a roof is more luxury than necessity from a functional standpoint; and clearly a luxury from a cost standpoint. $100 million fro a roof is almost as much as it cost to build the Xcel Emnergy Center ($130). Thanks.

Posted by: Hack at May 10, 2005 11:59 AM

Deg, thanks for the comment. The biggest fear I have about building a stadium without a roof is the fear that we'll be doing this all over again in 30 years. That is a legitimate concern. However, the Metrodome was built for the Vikings. The Twins justitified moving there based on these weather arguments, but it is a horrible stadium for baseball. A lot of changes would need to be made to make it a decent place to watch baseball, but it would cost a lot of money, and what about the Vikings? Where would they play in the meantime? Truth be told, I have no problem keeping the Metrodome for the Vikings. As you say, with some modifications it can be a good football stadium. But baseball? No way.

Also, this has been thought of before:


Renovating the Metrodome for baseball would have cost $200 million a few years ago. And this is assuming the Vikings already have a new place to play.

And thanks for you comment Hack. And I certainly didn't mean to offend. I thought I was only going to offend "pampered" women, not women in general. I will adjust the statement.

Posted by: Shane at May 10, 2005 12:21 PM

Boycott the sexist pig Shane!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at May 10, 2005 2:49 PM

my only memories of the met - and my brother and I went to plenty of games - are rain delays, cancelations, cold (very cold) many double headers, mosquitos and getting home very late - sorry, no fond memories of sunny day games or twilght evening games and I love the outdoors (duck hunter) but when it comes to baseball I do prefer some comfort and minnesota is at the bottom of the barrel (snow, rain, cold, wind) and I love nothing better than a 30 degree weekend in the woods

Posted by: tom at May 11, 2005 9:08 PM

Tom, 19 days so far have passed in May and only 4 of them have been without rain. I think I am beginning to see your point! Hopefully this year is a fluke!

Posted by: Shane at May 19, 2005 4:14 PM

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