Feature Article - July 2010
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Design for the Big Time

Latest Stadiums Mix History, Technology and Intimate Fan Experience

By Daniel P. Smith

Target Field
Location: Minneapolis
Home Team: Minnesota Twins
Opened: April 2010
Seating: 40,000, including 60 suites

After 28 years in the sterile Metrodome, Target Field, spotted just north of downtown Minneapolis, represents the Twins first modern baseball home. Reflecting Minnesota's dynamic blend of urban sophistication and rugged outdoor vitality, the new $550 million ballpark's design uses materials drawn from the state's granite and limestone cliffs, incorporates Minnesota fir trees, and uses regional workers and resources.

Covering 1 million square feet, Target Field affords views of the Minneapolis skyline throughout the entire main grandstand. "Knotholes" along the side of the ballpark allow fans to peek in on the game's action from outside the park. A 101-foot-by-57-foot HD screen, among the largest in Major League Baseball, offers an undeniable 21st-century vibe.

While some have derided the decision to build an outdoor stadium in Minneapolis without a retractable roof to handle the area's volatile weather, many others have praised the stadium's embrace of baseball's natural setting. Though the city's northern cold will likely infiltrate some games, the design includes heated concessions, restrooms and lounge areas on each level, as well as an upper-deck canopy that provides added protection from the elements.

"Target Field is baseball's most urban ballpark, and we had to create the ballpark to make the city," said Earl Santee, senior principal and board member for Populous. "Target Field was the bridge builder—bridges that connect the ballpark to downtown and to the west side, and that's the only way we could make the site work…. It's that seamless connection between ballpark and city that made this project a success."

Yankee Stadium
Location: New York
Home Team: New York Yankees
Opened: April 2009
Seating: 52,325, including 56 luxury suites and 410 party suites

In replacing the original Yankee Stadium, a shrine to baseball lore, the pressure was on Kansas City-based Populous to create a facility that mixed the club's storied history with modern amenities.

To duplicate and even extend the charm of "The House That Ruth Built," the design of the new Yankee Stadium included trademark elements from the original 1923 ballpark, such as the limestone exterior, the manually operated auxiliary scoreboard, and the signature frieze that crowned the upper deck.

The stadium also integrates high-tech features, including: a distributed antenna system, which provides increased wireless reception; 1,400 video monitors placed throughout the stadium with the Yankees able to deliver exclusive content; a 59-foot-by-100-foot HD video board in center field; and luxury suites equipped with touch screens allowing fans to order anything from a hot dog to a Derek Jeter jersey.

After its opening in April 2009, the $1.5 billion stadium, which covers more than 1.4 million square feet, was commended for its spirited combination of old-world charm and modern-day flair.

"Yankee Stadium is a ballpark for the future with a soul of the past," Santee said. "Monument Park, the outfield bleachers, a new Great Hall—these are all special places where fans can gather and share the experience of what it means to be a Yankee fan."