Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thoughts on the new Target Field

I talked a little previously about Target Field on Opening Day. I was interested then as to what the reviews of it would be. Without repeating myself, I was concerned that Target Field was going away from the strictly "retro" baseball stadium look that was prevalent in new stadiums from the early 1990's on. I like stadiums that have unique character, but then again I am a baseball purist. If I want to go to a Metro-plex with all the entertainment amenities, I'll drive somewhere and hit up a major movie theatre. Baseball should never be played in a huge, soulless monstrosity nor particularly in a dome. Ever.

Having seen a game at Target Field, I feel like I can comment now on what the architect was going for. I had not seen many pictures of the new field in any particular detail. From the few I had seen, I was under the impression that the Twins had reverted to the 1980's post-cookie cutter but still largely grandiose and soulless mega-ballpark.

I believe the thinking of the architect of the new Target Field was a blending of the "retro" style of stadium and the native architecture of Minneapolis. If that was indeed the architectural project, I think they succeeded. That, in itself, if no small feat. Downtown Minneapolis is very modern, almost space-agey looking. A lot of skyscrapers with reflective glass and curves. I have to admit my own bias at this point. I do not care for modern architecture, especially when it tries too hard to be artsy looking. This is just the way Minneapolis comes off to me, and I am not particularly a fan of it.

Like I said above though, the architect of Target Field did a good job of blending that architectural style with the retro ball park feel. Target Field does have a nice open-air grandstand area with vendors, etc. You have a great view of the field anywhere you can buy a bratwurst. There were also a lot of overhangs and neat little niches around the ball park that gave it a bit of an unique and intimate feel.

I was intrigued by the multi-level seating. No section was particularly huge, so each section was small enough to have its unique feel. As far as I could tell (and I was sitting in the nosebleed section in the outfield), no seat really felt too far removed from the action on the field. If you were sitting in the outfield in the old Metrodome, it felt like you were watching a bunch of ants running around on the surface of the moon.

The exterior of the stadium was interesting. It had a lot of tan stonework, not brick, which did pair well with the color schemes elsewhere in Minneapolis. It also had some artsy wood facades and murals. Again, the outside of the stadium was not particularly appealing to me, but it does blend in well with the modern feel of Minneapolis.

My only complaint, I think, would be that they have the stadium facing the wrong way. The skyline of Minneapolis is really behind the main grandstand. I had a good view of the skyline of Minneapolis sitting in the outfield, but I think that should have been the other way around.

I did like the grove of trees they have behind the outfield wall. I thought that gave it a bit of a unique and retro touch. It reminded me a little bit of the Monument Park in the old Yankee stadium outfield. Again, an infinite improvement on the weird, sheet plastic walls of the old Metrodome.

I do not quite understand the thinking behind the placement of the bullpens. The bullpens are behind the outfield wall. And the visiting and home bullpens are right next to each other, which I thought was interesting. The home relief pitcher actually has to walk through the visiting team's bullpen to get onto the field. In the event of a brawl, that's going to be a security problem. I had a good vantage point of looking into the bullpen to see what was going on, but I imagine people in the main stands would have trouble seeing the bullpen at all.

Overall, I was impressed with the stadium. It is a very comfortable and neat facility, with a good blend of retro and modern ballpark features. They did a good job building it. Target Field is certainly unique. Wrigley field or Fenway Park, it ain't, but I would go back.

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