Friday, May 29, 1896: A new ballpark on Nicollet

Posted on February 19th, 2006 – 5:40 PM
By Ben Welter

Need a new ballpark? In 1896, no environmental impact statement or millions in tax money was needed. It was as simple as signing a lease and putting up a grandstand and bleachers. On May 29, the Minneapolis Baseball Association agreed to foot the construction costs ( $4,000) and signed a lease on land at Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street. The park was ready for the Minneapolis Millers’ first home game less than three weeks later. The team played there for 60 years, until Metropolitan Stadium opened in Bloomington. [Kudos to my colleague Dick Parker for another fascinating Retro item, this one from the Minneapolis Journal.]

BASEBALL AT LAKE ST

A Surprise in the Location of the New Athletic Park.

COULD NOT GO TO KENWOOD

The New Grounds Are Between Nicollet and Blaisdell and Are Very Room[y]

There was drawn up this noon for the necessary signatures a five-year lease to the property between Lake and Thirty-first streets and Nicollet and Blaisdell avenues, the parties to the agreement being H.C. Carpenter and the officials of the Minneapolis Baseball Association. To put the matter simply, the location is that for the new ball park and there was a meeting of the triumvirate this afternoon to decide on the grand stand to be built and to look after the necessary contracts. The grand stand and grounds are to be in shape by June 15, or four days before the return of the team from its present trip so that the first home game will be played at the new park.

It was not only expected but announced some few days ago that the Kenwood site was to be chosen by the baseball management and to the end of securing the property application was made by the administrator of the McNair estate, to which the property belonged, to the city council for permission to use certain streets that there might enough room for a large field. The matter came before the council at its meeting the first of tis week and was then referred to a committee. It is now understood that the committee will report adversely and the reason is one of those given for the final selection of the Lake street site as against all comers. There is another reason which told in the choice of the Lake street property and that is the car-service. The street car company when interviewed in the matter declared to the baseball management that they could do much better for Lake street than for Kenwood and to prove their ability to do so said that they would run four lines to the Lake street grounds. These will be the First and Fourth avenue lines, the Lyndale and the Hennepin lines. The First avenue, of course, will be the most direct and will reach the ball grounds in almost the time in which the Kenwood grounds could have been reached.

At the new park it is proposed to put $4,000 into the grand stand and fences, and the seating capacity of grand stand and bleachers will be 4,000. The grand stand will have a capacity of half the total number seated and there will be two bleachers to accommodate 1,000 rooters each. The new grounds are so level that they will need comparatively little work. They will be practically 450×450 and thus of size sufficient to prevent any allusions to their band-box dimensions. In general arrangement and fixtures the new field and grand stand will be as complete and modern as any in the country. The lease will permit the use of the field for general athletic purposes as well as baseball and so if the university lads do not get their enclosed athletic field by next fall they will have a full-sized grounds for their football games.

Nicollet Park's last day
Well-dressed baseball fans streamed toward the entrance on Nicollet Park’s final day at the end of the 1955 season. (Minneapolis Tribune photo by Powell Krueger)

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