Twins stadium opens, Wrigley improvements unveiled, Rays and Yanks bicker over Trop

Baseball opening day was last week, but with half the teams starting the season on the road, yesterday marked first games at several stadiums, including something old and something new, plus a non-first-game at something that its tenants are outspokenly blue about:

  • The Minnesota Twins debuted their new $522 million Target Field (of which $387 million is being paid for by county taxpayers), and goggling fans described the new place as “intense and extreme” and “how baseball is supposed to be played.” (The Twins had been indoors at the Metrodome since moving out of Metropolitan Stadium in 1982.) The Mankato Free Press calls it “ultra-intimate” and says the “second deck of the left-field seats hovers so cozily over the field that it’s remindful of a Fenway Park Green Monster seat view &mdash minus the stiff cost.” From my vantage point watching on TV, this looked like more than a bit of an exaggeration — the upper decks are set back fairly far and stacked relatively high, and the “party deck” in the left-field corner looks like a bit of an obtrusive eyesore (kind of a cross between San Diego’s Western Metal Supply building and Citi Field’s glassed-in Acela Club) — but it certainly is outdoors. If any FoS readers were there, I’d welcome hearing your thoughts in the comments section.
  • Wrigley Field held its 97th season opener (the 95th for the Cubs; the first two were for the Chicago Whales of the long-ago Federal League), and debuted the first of the offseason renovations that new owner Tom Ricketts has planned. The most talked-about improvements seemed to be to the bathrooms: “Clean, dry, toilet paper, it was very nice,” said one female fan, while a male fan noted: “Much nicer, much cleaner, and I’m glad they kept the tradition of the troughs, but they do have some private urinals if you’re into that kind of thing.” Other changes include a spruced up back of the scoreboard and large banners of Cubs players adorning the front of the stadium. No glowing Toyota ad in the bleachers yet, though. (No, it wasn’t recalled.)
  • The Tampa Bay Rays actually had their home opener last week, but the Yankees‘ first series of the year there sparked a war of words over Tropicana Field, starting when Yanks catcher Jorge Posada griped “it’s not a baseball stadium” after a ball hit a catwalk and was ruled a single. (Note to Jorge: If stadium-specific ground rules aren’t baseball, then what are all these for?) Rays manager Joe Maddon shot back: “Tell them we’re trying to get a new yard ourselves. If they want to contribute in any way, we’ll take it. … We’ll take all kinds of donations; any major-league team that wants to contribute to the new ballpark, we’d be happy to accept.” Added Maddon: “We could just build it on Jeter’s property out there.” Maddon tactfully failed to mention that the Rays, along with 28 other major-league teams, are already helping pay for the Yanks’ own new stadium.
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9 comments on “Twins stadium opens, Wrigley improvements unveiled, Rays and Yanks bicker over Trop

  1. It’s a bad thing to try to artificially copy in glass walls.

    I also didn’t mention all the gratuitous angles in the outfield, and the bleachers section that juts out over the right-field wall as an overhang. Maybe it looks better in person than on TV, but from here it screams “Look at me! I’m some generic modern architect’s idea of ‘quirky’!”

  2. Exactly–my first couple of times at Petco, the Western Metal Supply building and a few other details struck me as being quirky for the sake being quirky. Unlike the warehouse at Camden Yards that fits in perfectly.

    A few more visits have me giving Petco as a whole the thumbs up, as there’s some unique features I can appreciate.

  3. I have to agree with Mark on this one Neil. The WMS building may seem out of place at first glance but it actually fits very nicely with the park after a few visits. Particularly with it being open and having that nice little nook you can go stand in between the building and the wall on game days and non game days. As for the “overhang” it doesn’t actually overhang the field at Petco. The wall follows the contour of the section you’re referring to.

    And even IF those traits don’t fade after a few visits for you, the stadium’s overall openness more than makes up for it. Of all the stadiums I’ve visited over the years, MLB, NFL, NHL, MLS, NBA, NCAAF, etc… no stadium is more open and less claustrophobic for fans than PETCO. Moving around that park, even on a busy day, is an incredibly easy and stress free proposition. And that’s before you’ve sampled from their amazing local microbrew selection. That and I have to give it props for, while being artificially quirky in the outfield, not following too closely to the “Camden” formula otherwise with the blue seats, sandstone exterior, white steel, etc… It’s particularly a breath of fresh air compared to the overbearing, overheated, and tomblike concrete monstrosity it replaced out at Qualcomm/Jack Murphy/San Diego Stadium.

  4. I may be the only guy that doesn’t like Petco, but to me it feels as huge as Jack Murphy did, despite having 25,000 fewer seats. I was all set to like it too (from pictures).

    Seems like they created too much of an overhang, so the upper deck is way too steep. I’m not really a fan of the WMS building either (I get what they were trying to do but the fact that the stadium dwarfs it just makes it seem like another gimmick). I didn’t think that the concourses were particularly easy (I kept getting lost, so that may have had something to do with it). I like the blue seats though.

  5. Note to Dan:

    I like Petco as a whole now, but the WMS Building…not so much. The faux Wrigley rooftops just don’t fit the rest of the layout, and the whole RF area is awkward. I’m not a fan of the oversized LF deck either.

    I love the Park-At-The-Park concept. I like the way the lower concourse is mostly open, with areas where you can hang out and check out the view. The ballpark is certainly attractive and distinctive looking. I like the location, although it gets some of the negatives being by the water without many of the positives like AT&T gets.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing Target Field soon.

  6. This reminds me of when the Mekons played at CBGBs not long before it closed, and their guitarist remarked, “Even CBGBs has gotten gentrified – there’s toilet paper in the bathrooms now. And here I brought my own leaves!”

  7. well it’s not like the Padres really wanted the WMS building there. I toured the park a few years ago and the guide noted that the WMS building came with the site and due to it being a historical building or whatever they couldn’t tear it down so they made the best of it and incorporated it into the stadium. It’s actually pretty cool inside of it

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