May 20, 2009
Today, thanks to the generosity of Dan Kenney (Executive Director of the Ballpark Authority), I was able to partake in a tour of Target Field, the future home the Minnesota Twins. This tour was a really special moment for me. I'm not going to lie, I was overwhelmed at a couple of points in the tour just looking out over the ballpark and seeing a whole bunch of hard work come to fruition. It will be a beautiful place to watch a ballgame, no doubt about it.
Along with Freealonzo, Cheesehead Craig, Jeff Thompson, Ryan Maus, and Rick Prescott we started our tour around 4:45. We didn't finish until around 6:15. So, we saw a fair amount of the ballpark. Needless to say, I could have stayed longer. Here are a few impressions. Before I begin, though, I am not a ballpark design expert. I don't know the lingo, and I'll probably get a few of the details wrong. Rick will blow this description out of the water, which is OK. This is just another viewpoint:
- The ballpark is so compact! You hear that over and over again, but looking out over the field right behind home plate really drives this fact home. It is a very small site, and seats are placed and stacked in every nook and cranny that can hold them. And unlike the new Yankees stadium, every seat can see the action.
- The view behind home plate is absolutely stunning. Actually most of the view on the lower level takes your breath away. If your seat is down there you will be right on top of the action. Also, the seats directly behind home plate extend a little past the dugouts so those lucky fans will be able to see what is going on within the dugouts too.
- The bullpen sections for both teams are tiny. Not a big surprise, but they really crammed them into the left field wall. The opposing team's bullpen should be closest to the fans so hurling insults down at them should be fairly easy. Although Rick said Joe Nathan gets to decide where the Twins bullpen will be located. I would pick closest to the field, but that is just me.
- There will be many, many different ways to get food and drinks. Four distinct areas that impressed me were devoted to honoring the past. There is the Puckett atrium that will feature a huge wooden mural of the man and overlook the southwest through ceiling to floor windows. Of course, it will include a bar. Next there will be the Carew atrium that is a little bigger than Puckett's, but has the unfortunate distinction of overlooking the garbage burner. Dan said that they have already worked with the county to make sure that garbage trucks enter the facility on the west side of the HERC so as not to disgust fans in the Carew atrium. Probably a good idea. There will also be a huge wooden mural of Carew on one of the walls. Next there will be a club called the "573 Club" obviously honoring Harmon Killebrew and his 573 career home runs. Dan said that they have purchased the bat which the Killer used to hit number 573 and it will feature prominently. The bar in this area will also be made out of a huge, partly unfinished Ash tree log which will be a nice touch considering how baseball bats were made in the past. Finally, there will be a "Metropolitan Club" for season ticket holders to congregate in away from all the poor saps that only bought single game tickets. The Metropolitan Club will feature many design elements that hearken back to the old Met, including some of the same garish colors used in that old ballpark. Dan joked that one of the bathrooms in that area has already been painted purple and gold which must unwittingly torture Lester Bagley (Do you get it? Lester is the front man for the Vikings stadium effort, and a bathroom in Target Field has been painted purple and gold? Get it? No? Let's move on ...). And on top of these four areas there will be even more clubs and restaurants, concession stands, and nifty areas to consider and muse about how lucky we are to have a new Twins ballpark.
- We toured the top of the Target Plaza and got a real sense on how close non-ticket buying fans will get to the action. Close, but not close enough. Target Plaza will be a public area though so people will be able to mill around there without a ticket to their hearts' content.
- We also ventured up to the Terrace level of the ballpark. Climbing up to the Terrace level took a while as we walked up on the ramps that scale the south side of the field. These ramps are thin. There is no doubt that they will be jam packed with fans and be very crowded before and after games. One of the only negatives I saw to being on such a cramped site.
- Overlooking the field on the Terrace level was a little different than behind home plate. You are up high, much higher than I would have thought and again the bird's eye view of the field is stunning. Dan even said seats on this level on the 3rd base line may be some of the best seats in the park. The view of the skyline is even better than advertised, and if you get far enough down towards left field you will be able to get the Wells Fargo building into view. During sunset and at night the view of downtown Minneapolis will be well worth the price of admission.
- It has been said before, but I'll say it again, the scoreboard is huge! Absolutely monstrous. I'm almost of the opinion that it will distract the players as they bat. When the opposing team is up they should put a picture of Jessica Biel in a bikini on the scoreboard. That would probably quantify into at least 20 Twins victories right there.
- Finally, we got to see Dan Kenney's new office. Usually that wouldn't be something I would highlight, but Dan's office will be the farthest "suite space" down the 1st base line, and his office overlooks the field. Can you imagine? Can you imagine having a job where your office could overlook such a magnificent site? Where you could be at work and actually watch the game? Rick already asked if he could have a job as Dan's pencil sharpener, so I'd like to throw my hat in for the job of pencil arranger. Rick can sharpen them and I'll arrange them on Dan's desk. Sound good Dan? Man! What a view.
As you can probably tell, I don't have any pictures to help illustrate what I am describing above. This is definitely a bummer. The Twins want to heavily control how information is released concerning their new palace. I must admit I don't understand this thinking, especially considering how many pictures of TCF Bank Stadium are out there. Maybe they will loosen this restriction once the ballpark gets closer to completion, or is complete (Dan said maybe sometime in December). We can only hope. I mean, it will help sell tickets for people to see this beautiful place inside and out, don't you think?
Anyway, I'd like to thank Dan Kenney for his gracious offer of a tour. Dan, from the bottom of my heart thank you for letting me see this place. It was awesome. Maybe on the next tour we can see the Twins clubhouse, dugout, and locker room? Also, thanks to Freealonzo, Jeff Thompson, Cheesehead Craig, Ryan Maus, and Rick Prescott for being great tour mates. All of your great questions and observations made the tour that much more enjoyable. And nice to finally meet you Rick! Nice work on that site you got there!
So, that is my description of touring Target Field. I started working on getting that crazy ballpark built in 2003. To actually set foot inside of it, to see it in a tangible fashion and be able to truly visualize how much fun it will be to watch a game being played there ... wow. It was very gratifying and overwhelming. I could have sat and looked out over the field all night long.
2010 can't come quick enough! Thanks again Dan! Let's do that again some time!
PS -- Kevin! Yes! I have my season tickets to TCF Bank stadium already purchased. I will be in section 215. Let's try to meet up!