Posted at 1:52 PM on October 29, 2008
by Chris Dall
Earlier this year, I drove by the site of the new Twins ballpark to get a sense of how it was coming together. I didn't see much, just some cranes, cement trucks, and rebar. I've been wanting to check back on the progress ever since, and as luck would have it, I was invited to take a media tour of the construction site yesterday.
Like many others, I've always been skeptical about how exactly the builders were going to construct this ballpark. It just seemed like such a tight spot. Of course, that's why engineers and architects get paid a lot of money to work on these projects, and I write a blog for public radio.
The first thing you notice on driving up to the site is how hemmed in it is by roads and other buildings. It seems like it has no room to breathe. I've lived in Boston and been to Fenway park, but this site takes "urban ballpark" to a whole new level.
But once you get inside, that feeling goes away. Though what exists now is mostly a skeleton of a stadium, what immediately dominates the eye is the backdrop of open sky and cityscape. On a day like yesterday, Target Field is going to be a great place to watch a ball game, even if the game isn't very good. My guess is that Twins ownership is hoping people will feel that way for several years.
I've included a few photos to give a you sense of what's taking shape:
The southwest entrance, at the corner of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue North.
The future site of home plate.
Looking toward centerfield from the main concourse. The concourse will be open to the field, so no more having to watch the TV monitor while you're putting mustard on your dome dog.
The view of the left field seating area from field level. In case you're wondering, the garbage burner sits just beyond that side of the ballpark (you can kind of see it in the left-hand corner of the photo), and no, I couldn't smell it. Kevin Smith of the Twins says they plan to use some steam from the garbage burner for power, but it will not be used to heat the seats.
The money shot. This is the view most people along the third-base line will have.
All in all, it's pretty impressive. I know I can't wait to see a game there. But as I walked around the site, I couldn't help but think of the current economic crisis, the amount of taxpayer money being spent on this project, and the fact that it's just a stone's throw from the Harbor Lights shelter and Mary's Place, a housing project for impoverished families. Target Field will undoubtedly be a gem, but singing it's praises makes me feel a little dirty.
Here is a slide show of additional photos taken by MPR online producer Steve Mullis.