The Minnesota Vikings are having a bit of a spat with the Minnesota Golden Gophers over some of the space in the proposed stadium that is set to come online in 2016. The argument has to do with configuring the stadium for baseball for the University's baseball team, as well as for high school games that are currently played at the Metrodome.
While Minnesota has a state-of-the-art baseball stadium in Target Field, college baseball season takes place largely during a period of time where playing games outside in Minnesota would be a bit inconvenient, to say the least. With the Metrodome going away to facilitate the construction of the new stadium, the Gopher baseball team will need a backup plan.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the dispute has to do with how close the Vikings want to put fans to the football field, and how that would play into the configuration for a baseball diamond.
The Vikings, hoping to put ticket holders and stadium suites as close to the action as any team in the NFL, favor a preliminary design that places the first row of seats 44 feet from the football playing field. Only one other recently built NFL stadium -- Lucas Oil in Indianapolis, designed by HKS Inc., the architect for the Vikings stadium -- puts ticket holders that close.
But that design squeezes some baseball dimensions.
The most glaring -- a right-field foul line that extends 285 feet from home plate and a right-field power alley 319 feet away. Both distances are short by college and professional standards, and both are about 20 feet shorter than the design, already scaled back, favored by baseball coaches and the public stadium authority.
Now, considering that they use aluminum bats in college baseball, a 285-foot fly ball that would be a routine out at most baseball fields would be a home run given these proposed dimensions. Even the inclusion of a "Green Monster"-esque wall in right field wouldn't totally eliminate the problem, as is pointed out in the article.
Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague has said that the Gophers would accept a 300-foot right field line, and it sounds like the stadium authority would be amenable to that as well. Hopefully this can all get worked out to a satisfactory conclusion for everyone involved.