Maybe Target Field should have had a roof

Minnesota Twins mascot T.C. shovels snow off the top of the Twins dugout and into the television camera pit before the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays in Minneapolis, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Wednesday night’s game was rescheduled for Thursday night due to a winter storm in Minnesota. AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt.
Maybe that roof thing wasn’t such a bad idea.

It would’ve saved us from being the target of snickering from the the icebox to the east of us.

Last night’s temperature at Target Field at game time was 31 degrees, the coldest temperature ever recorded at the start of a game at the stadium. Good times for the announced crowd of 20,698, most of whom weren’t actually there.

In Milwaukee, writer Mike Baumann went to a game in 31 degree weather, too. And he writes today that he was just fine.

Nobody made a big deal about the snow at Miller Park, either, until people went outside to their cars after the game and realized that the roads home would be glazed over with ice. But at game time it was 62 degrees inside Miller Park. In this current climate, that seemed like a day in mid-July.

I don’t mention this to sneer or snicker at our neighbors one state to the west. The Twin Cities being farther north than Milwaukee, their climate can be even more severe than ours in the winter, or in an April when the winter just won’t go away.

They don’t have a roof on their ballpark. But they do have a varied ballpark history; outside at Metropolitan Stadium from 1961-81, then inside at the Metrodome until 2010, then Target Field and outdoors once again.

Target Field is an outstanding facility, top-shelf, first-class, one of the very best. It is vastly superior to the Metrodome, which was never really suitable for baseball, on every level except one, I suppose. And that would be when the temperature is below freezing and it’s snowing.

In Milwaukee, the retractable roof has saved baseball for this community, for this state. Without this roof, the Brewers would not be drawing anything like three million people in a single season, as they did three times over a four-year period.

The roof is also in the process of saving a baseball season. For the nine Brewers home dates so far this season, the weather has been acceptable maybe twice. Couldn’t have played Monday night with the snow. Couldn’t have played Tuesday night, either, with the cold.

The former owner of the Brewers and current Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, insisted that the roof was an absolutely necessary part of the package. I don’t think the Commissioner had advance knowledge of the polar vortex, but he was right on the roof, then and now.

The people in Minnesota, with a baseball park without a retractable roof, may be tougher than we are. Or they may be merely cheaper than we are. Or they may be both. But in Milwaukee, 31 degrees at game time does not bother baseball fans in the least. As long as there are ice scrapers in their cars.

  • Steve from Up North

    I much would have liked a roof on Target Field, not only because of the early season games mixing with the cold weather, but for the rest of the season as well. I have to drive 3.5 hours to see a game. So I make a whole day trip of it. Which means planning a trip well in advance, buying tickets, planning what I’m gonna do for the day, and so on. I want to know for certain that there will be a game. I like to spend the extra money and get good tickets, but if there’s the chance the game is gonna be rained out, or canceled for another day, I won’t be making the trip to see the makeup game. That is rather unfortunate.

  • Jim G

    I think the owners could have afforded a retractable roof for the comfort of their loyal fans that can’t afford to watch games from the heated comfort of private boxes. However, they could also afford to pay for talented players that would make the Twins contenders for the American League Championship and they haven’t done that either.

  • Neil Coleman

    I’d rather sit in the cold in April (or just watch on TV) than sit in a sweatbox like Miller Park in July. By the 4th inning that place reaks of onions, sweat, and overcompensation.

  • Jeffrey Klein

    Not having a roof was the best decision possible. It allowed the park to be situated in a great location on a small city block, and have beautiful retro ballpark style. It also kept the cost down, something that you may recall was a subject of a lot of debate.

    I’m tired of having to have this same stupid conversation every time it rains. If you can’t handle a little weather, follow the rest of the sunbirds to Arizona. The rest of us will enjoy the park, whether the weather is perfect or not.

    • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

      Reminds me of the “love it or leave it” discussion surrounding the Vietnam War.

      • Jeffrey Klein

        Ha, great to know I’ve lowered the level of discourse that much. But I wrote the comment right after I read the millionaire sunbirds story on MinnPost. In any case, I am genuinely surprised when people who live in this state can’t put up with 40 degrees.

    • Todd

      Agree. And ironically Arizona has a retractable roof too.

  • Todd

    Mr. Baumann is forgetting an important factor. Target field is superior to Miller Park from May to September. A retractable roof is a waste of money and it greatly diminishes the outdoor experience in late spring and summer months of the year. Miller Park has too much of an indoor feeling to it, even when the roof is open.

  • http://www.wgom.org wyoungmn

    A roof would have cost, at minimum, an extra $100 million. Who was paying that? The Pohlads picked up all cost overruns, but how can anyone hold it against them for not having a roof when their actions look downright saintly next to the crooks who own the Vikings?

    The downside of 10 or so bad days in April/September is the 70 or so games when the conditions are much, much better than spending a beautiful day in the Dome.

  • http://scottolstad.com/ Scott

    I’m happy without a roof. They’re ugly and the weather isn’t this bad all year.

    But I predict we see this headline every year until Target Field is destroyed.

  • Eioljg

    Perhaps the season starts too early and goes too long.

  • boB from WA

    Probably shouldn’t say anything about “Large Insurance Company” Field in Seattle

  • Dean Carlson

    If Miller Park is the standard by which we are going by, I’ll freeze my tail off 2-5 times a season thank you very much.

    Also the stance by Steve from Up North (and out-staters) really burns me. Outstate residents made it very clear that they were not going to pay for the ballpark, leaving it up to Hennepin County to foot the bill. Now you come back and complain there’s no roof and you can’t plan 100% if the game will be played or not?(ignoring the fact that 1-2 games a year are cancelled because of rain). If it was that important to have a roof for your planning purposes then you should have come to the table with your wallet open.

    • Ryan Coleman

      Amen, Dean. I gladly will pay for the stadium that 3-4,000,000 people might be going to during the year. 5-6 times more than the other one they’re building.

  • Dave Gutterud

    Anyone crying for a retractable roof has obviously not been to a retractable roof baseball park. The ballpark experience at Target Field, as compared to the closed in feel of retractable parks like Miller, or Chase or Minute Maid is substantially more enjoyable. I absolutely hated the closed in feeling of the Humpty Dome and those retractable roof stadiums give you much of the same feel – even with the roof opened up. No thanks…I’ll freeze my a@@ off in April and October in order to enjoy outdoor baseball from May to September.

  • joetron2030

    If MLB were smart, it would just schedule as many early season games for northern teams against southern teams. Sure, it may delay the home opener by a couple or a few weeks, but so what?

  • Guest

    I did enough time freezing my butt off watching all my kids sports as they grew up. I do not want to do that anymore. No roof. No go.
    And for the person who wants to know why people live here if they don’t like the weather. It’s called a job, not being independently wealthy and too old to pick up stakes and move. Retirement will find me elsewhere.

  • mcwhirter

    Miller Park looks like a big airplane hangar to me. No thanks!

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    I’ve yet to see a fake roof stadium as good as Target Field, so I’ll take Target Fie.d

  • Ralphy

    Target Field is ranked as the best baseball stadium in the country by ESPN as it is. Would enclosing the stadium improve it? It hasn’t made any other stadiums better than Target Field. At an additional $100,000,000 or more to put a roof on, for a handful of games per year and to ensure the travel plans for a small number of out-state fans for 1 or 2 games per year is making a poor use of public dollars even worse.
    For those making the out-state travel to the big city but what if it rains argument, what about the big city travel to the out-state resort but what if it rains? Should the good folks of Brainerd put a retractable roof up over Gull Lake? I’d bet Brainerd has a lot more tourist $ at stake from city folk than Minneapolis does from Twins fans.