Monday, April 2, 2012

Take me out to the ballpark

You can’t get much further apart than Miami and Minnesota. Lakes versus oceans, cabins versus night clubs, walleye versus dolphins, James, Wade, and Bosh versus this guy*. The Twins and the Marlins, however, have quite a bit more in common than you would think. Both clubs have two World Series championships. Both have spent the majority of the 2000’s as small market teams. And both have brand spanking new stadiums.

*There was a corresponding video that went along with this. It featured Nikola Pekovic, the Timberwolves’ Montenegrin center, slowly walking as various world landmarks are shown in the background. The “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” theme song plays except when it gets to the “Carmen Sandiego” part, Pekovic’s head pops up on screen and he deadpans his own name. As far as 45-second jumbotron cinematography goes, this is freakin’ Casablanca. For some reason the video has been removed from YouTube. It’s ok though, I still have this.

Target Field is breathtaking. Even if it is a bit of a pitcher’s park*, it’s a great place to watch a ballgame. The outfield opens up to the Minneapolis skyline, there’s Mankato limestone all over the place**, and I love the way it lights up at night. They may have removed the evergreens from the batter’s eye in centerfield, but after nearly thirty long years in the sterile, astroturfed, fluorescent terrarium that was the Metrodome, outdoor baseball is heaven – trees or not. And make no mistake, it is outdoor baseball since in an effort to keep costs to $581 million (in 2012 dollars), planners eschewed including a retractable roof in the design.

*Target Field had a mean park factor of 87 for 2010-2011, making it the 26th worst hitters’ park in the league. Looking only at home runs, the park factor actually drops to 78, meaning that for every 100 home runs that you would expect in an “average” MLB park, there are only 78 in Minnesota.

**I always heard about how Minnesota had damn good limestone as a kid (thanks dad), but I never thought much of it. When my parents came out to visit me in Ann Arbor last month, we actually went to a chapel that bragged about having MN limestone. Pretty cool, huh?

Marlins Park opens this spring and, of course, will have its own touches of South Florida flair. The backstop will be a fish tank and instead of trees in center field, this thing (complete with jumping dolphins and flapping flamingoes) will pop up when a Marlin belts a homerun.

Marlins Park will also feature a retractable roof.
For $515 million.

Yup, you read that right, the Marlins got a ballpark, complete with ornery Latin manager and retractable roof for less than it cost the Twins to build their open-air stadium. How is that possible!? What egregious explanation for this obvious fleecing of the public would an exclusive Eleanor Avenue Blog investigation turn up?!

Well, turns out it’s not very exciting at all. Construction costs in Miami are around 80 percent of what they are in Minneapolis (I’m guessing that winter probably has something to do with it). So that means that if it were built in Minnesota, Marlins Park would have cost around $644 million. Compare that to Target Field’s price tag and things don’t look so bad anymore.

So, what I thought was gonna be my big investigative reporting scoop really isn’t much of a story after all. To borrow a phrase from Ron Washington, “that’s the way bloggin’ go.” Oh well. On the bright side, Thursday Wednesday is opening day, and sure enough, the first pitch will be thrown out in Miami.

1 comment:

Keep it civil.