The seven-minute install

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September 27, 2010 // UPDATED 1:16 pm - October 6, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott

// The Sid Hartman statue goes up outside Target Center //

The city had two whole months to fully green light the Sid Hartman memorial statue. The artist who designed it, however, had only seven minutes to secure it in place.

“I’m a little freaked,” admitted local sculptor Nick Legeros this morning. He eyed the bronzed replica of the 90-odd–year-old sportswriter, which this morning was strung up like a hangman at the corner of 1st Avenue and 6th Street, suspended over a round granite pedestal by a 12-foot tall tripod hoist.

Legeros, renowned for his public memorials, always insists on doing his installs himself. But today, the prospect of gluing the statue to its mount — epoxy is literally the only thing securing the bronze Sid in place — was daunting.

“I have only seven minutes of work time to get the epoxy into those holes and set the statue” before it dries, he said.

Legeros had already been delayed by a fire drill at Target’s City Center offices, which caused thousands of evacuating employees to flood through his workspace and file into the Target Center. He had to wait to run an extension cord into the building, which was deemed a trip hazard. He didn’t need anything else to go wrong.

Legeros set an egg timer for seven minutes, and along with his fellow artist Branko Gulin, a painter responsible for the statue’s fine-brushed patina, got to work injecting epoxy into four holes that would accommodate the 16-inch support posts protruding from the statue’s feet. A scramble ensued, as the two men labored to wrestle the larger-than-life Sid into place.

By the time the clock beeped, Sid was standing proud, aiming his WCCO microphone at an imaginary interview subject.

“It’s designed to be interactive,” Legeros explained, pointing out that the pedestal allowed enough room for passers-by to step up for a face-to-face with Hartman. Legeros and Gulin then wrapped the statue in a plush curtain.

The statue’s install had originally been planned for late September. But according to Legeros, as the Twins sailed into the playoffs, city officials decided to hold off until the first post-season game at Target Field to put Sid in place.

A grand unveiling is planned for 4:30 this afternoon — mere hours before the first pitch against the visiting Yankees. Sid Hartman himself will be on hand, and Twins hall of famer Rod Carew will actually remove the curtain.

“I think it’s exciting,” said a woman named Jervis who stopped by to watch the install. A Twins season ticket holder, Jervis described Sid as having “a lot of wisdom” even though he sometimes came off like “a jerk.”

And the likeness, she said, was uncanny — unlike the bronze statues of Twins players on Target Plaza, which have drawn criticism for their poor resemblances. “The only thing that’s missing are the stains on his tie.”

Asked if she followed the controversy surrounding the statue — some had alleged that certain lettering on the statue amounted to corporate advertising — she said she thought it was ridiculous that anyone would oppose the project.

“I was ready to write a letter,” she said.

A high-school senior in an oversized hoodie also lingered at the corner, intrigued by the install. He eyed the engraving on the pedestal, which reads “Sid Hartman, a true Minnesota sports legend, a close personal friend.”

“Who’s Sid Hartman,” he asked.