May 21, 2006

Outdoor Baseball, Spring of 2010

I'm too young to have been around when people actually thought that the Metrodome was a great idea, so for my entire baseball fandom it's just been the crappy place where the Twins play. I get asked a lot why I don't attend more Twins games in person and the reason is simple: I hate watching baseball indoors and especially hate watching it in a place that makes you feel like you're sitting in the middle of a warehouse.

Not only would I rather watch the Twins on TV than pay to sit in a "ballpark" that has all the ambiance of a shoe box, I'd rather watch the St. Paul Saints play outdoors. Baseball is meant to be played outside, under the sun or stars, with wind in place of that ever-audible echo that serves as a constant reminder of what a depressing mess the Metrodome is. I've been to more Saints games than Twins games over the past five years, and for most of the time I couldn't name a single player on the Saints.

I've avoided writing much about the Twins' quest for a new ballpark, in large part because I've seen hopes get up far too often on the subject. I became a hardcore Twins fan right around the time people were getting fed up with the Metrodome, so as far back as I can remember there's been a push for a new ballpark. And as far back as I can remember, it's failed. In fact, even now I remain sort of gun-shy about getting my own hopes up.

A bill paving the way for a new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis passed the House and the Senate late Saturday night, and I'm sure Jerry Bell, Dave St. Peter, and Terry Ryan sipped champagne in the wee hours Sunday morning. Still, I half expect to hear about a "snag" that threatens to hold the whole thing up yet again. It's not that it seems to good to be true. After all, 10 new ballparks have opened within the last decade. It's that it seems good, and I've been conditioned to not believe that it's true.

I've kept myself from getting too optimistic about the ballpark by avoiding articles on it and keeping clear of the artist renderings of what the whole thing might look like when it's done. That changed yesterday when I read all there was to read about the situation in both local newspapers and even found myself sneaking a peak at the drawings on the Twins' website. My hopes are officially up, although until I see some dirt being thrown around by guys in hard hats I doubt I'll truly believe it.

There are all sorts of arguments being thrown around by both sides of the ballpark issue, but for me it's simple. A new ballpark will increase the Twins' revenue, which should lead to increased payroll. That'll give the Twins a better chance to remain competitive, while keeping the team in Minnesota for decades to come. It also means that 81 times per year I can head downtown for an MLB game in a real, outdoor ballpark, which is something I've never experienced in Minnesota.

I've been to big-league games played in outdoor ballparks in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Toronto, and both sides of Chicago, and each time I've come away from the experience thinking about how wonderful it would be to have something like that for the Twins. I'm downright giddy right now, or at least as giddy as you can be about something that won't happen until 2010. After waiting all this time, you'd think it wouldn't be so hard to wait until then.

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