With the first Twins game at new Target Field now imminent, let me predict what will happen. Sometime in middle or late April there will be a night game with temperatures in the low 30s and the cry will go up, "Put a roof on it."
Please don't. There are several reasons, none of them financial, for keeping it an open air stadium.
Let me establish my credentials. I am a long-time baseball fan. My dad first took me to the old Milwaukee County Stadium to watch Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves before they fled to Atlanta. When the Brewers arrived from Seattle in 1970, I was again in County Stadium. Even after my family moved to the Twin Cities in 1972, and the Twins became my regular team, I still kept an eye on the Brew Crew and made regular road trips back for games.
Still, I was excited for the new Miller Park when it opened in 2001. That is, until I saw it.
It was ugly when the roof was closed. It was all concrete and steel and, to my eyes, it looked worse than the Metrodome, which was no easy feat. And the roof was often closed.
I went to a late May game several years back. My son and my brother and I were tailgating in our shirtsleeves beneath a beautiful sunny sky. When we entered the stadium, the roof was closed. Why? Because there was a threat of rain -- which in fact materialized, lasted 15 minutes and then cleared out.
Two years ago, as the Brewers entered the final three games of the season against the Chicago Cubs with a chance for a wild-card berth, we again entered Miller Park on a cloudy but warm September afternoon. Again, the roof was closed. It was only later that we found out that the Brewer players had demanded it be closed so there would be no interference from occasional sun, wind or other elements.
The superstructure needed to support a roof is so enormous that in late June and early July, the longest days of the year, the shadows start creeping across the playing field at 2:30 during day games, interfering with hitters' ability to pick up the baseball. That won't happen at Target Field until 5 p.m. or later.
Besides, putting a roof on Target Field would just be treating the symptoms, not the disease. The disease is that the baseball season is too long.
Baseball owners have continued to add extra post-season series, made two of them best- of-seven, and kept the regular season at 162 games. The result: We are playing games in the cold of very early April and, if your team is good enough, very late October.
So, here are my humble solutions.
1) If the weather happens to be cold in April or May, don't go. The only people who suffer are million-dollar players and billion-dollar owners. You can wait for the nice weather.
2) Get Major League Baseball to resume the pre-1961 schedule of 154 games. The season could start a week later and end a week earlier.
3) If there must be three post-season series, make the first two best-of-five and restore the luster of the World Series by making it the only one that is best-of- seven.
Target Field is a beauty. Don't ruin it by making it wear a hat. Oh, and Go Twins.
Chuck Laszewski is communications director at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, which describes itself as "the legal and scientific guardian of Minnesota's environment."
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