Twins unveil design for new stadiumby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
The Minnesota Twins are showing off the design for their new ballpark. The team assembled a large display in the lobby of the Hennepin County government center with artist renderings of the 40,000-seat stadium Thursday.
Minneapolis, Minn. — The architects who designed the new Twins ballpark say they created a stadium to provide a more fan-friendly experience.
The seats will be a little bit wider, and there will be a little bit more legroom than there is at the Metrodome.
The open concourses will allow fans to see the field when they get up to buy a hot dog or use the rest room.
"This is a ballpark for the ages," said Earl Santee, principal of HOK Sport. His firm worked with local architects HGA to create the design.
Santee says the design takes advantage of the limitations presented by the site. The eight-acre footprint is relatively small compared to most major league stadiums. But Santee says the Twins ballpark will stand out from the others.
"This is a ballpark that looks forward. It looks about being state of the art. It looks about being fan-friendly," said Santee. "And it's a ballpark that will be remembered, I think, that will separate it from everything else."
The ballpark won't look like others, either. Santee says the design is inspired by natural elements found only here -- from the Minnesota limestone that will wrap around the structure's exterior, to the seasonal plantings and fir trees that will sit behind the centerfield fence.
Of course, Minnesota is also known for its weather. The opening of the baseball season this April has been ushered in with snow, and temperatures 20 degrees below normal. The new stadium has no roof, and some have questioned whether an open-air stadium is the right way to go.
Santee says the field will be heated to a temperature that can melt spring snowfall, and there will be some shelter available for fans.
"The reason for having the concourses open air to the field actually provides shelter for folks. If they want to go on the concourse, they can still see the game but they're under cover," said Santee.
Santee estimates that there's enough out-of-the-weather cover for about 10,000 fans.
In order to cover all 40,000 fans with a retractable roof, the team or Hennepin County would have to add another $100 million or so to the $330 million pricetag. Hennepin County taxpayers are already footing the bill for two-thirds of the park's cost.
Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson supported public funding for a Twins stadium when he was in office. He was on hand for the unveiling of the design.
Johnson remembers the roof issue often came up in talks about stadium funding, especially from people who, like Johnson, live outside the Twin Cities.
"When we were debating this in the legislative session, that question was asked. And it's anticipated that six to eight games could be rained out, or simply be too cold to play in Minnesota," said Johnson.
The lobby level of the Hennepin County Government Center was full of people Thursday afternoon, gazing at drawings of the new stadium. Even without a roof, baseball fan Lisa Newell likes what she sees.
"I like it. I like that Kasota stone on the front and the glass. It doesn't look like -- my husband is from Cleveland -- like Jacobs Field," Newell said, referring to the 1990s when new baseball stadiums were designed with an "old-time" feel.
Newell says she's traveled to ballparks in other states, including Arizona, where there's a retractable roof to keep out the hot sun.
Newell doesn't think the Twins stadium needs a roof. She thinks the team could mitigate any weather problems with a schedule change that would keep the Twins on the road for the first days of the season.
"I wouldn't have a problem if they didn't play their first home game until 10 days into the season," Newell said.
County officials are still working to finalize a few more land use agreements before they can acquire the land and start breaking ground on the new ballpark. But they believe that can start in early May.
- All Things Considered, 04/12/2007, 5:50 p.m.