October 21, 2005 [LINK]
New D.C. stadium design
For once, the Washington Post let itself get scooped on a major baseball story. Washington's free tabloid City Paper took a peek at what the HOK architectural firm has been working on, and they're not happy. According to author Josh Levin,
Once a stadium innovator, the District has become the ultimate follower. If you thought Mayor Anthony A. Williams rolled over for Major League Baseball when the Expos relocated, you ain't seen nothing yet. The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, the mayor's office, the Nationals, and Major League Baseball have chosen to kill off the league's last ugly duckling and replace it with yet another shiny baseball jukebox.
They go on to critique in lurid detail various faults of the tentative design, which is aimed primarily at maximizing revenue from upper-crust patrons, leaving second-class facilities and uncomfortably tight seats for average folks. As far as the playing area at "Linda Cropp Field" (!) goes,
The new field's contrived distances will try to summon the old parks' essence: 340 feet down the left-field line, 385 in the left-field power alley, 413 at a sharply angled outcropping just left of center field, 400 feet to straightaway center, 380 in the right-field power alley, 368 on the short side of a protuberance in right-center field, and 330 to the foul line in right. The manufactured quirkiness evinces Major League Baseball conformity: The outfields in the newish parks in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and San Diego, with their jutting corners and acute angles, look identically asymmetrical.
That's certainly not very encouraging. Whatever happened to the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission's insistence on a unique, signature architectural design? When an artist's rendering is released, I guess we'll be in a better position to judge. And what about the whole idea of integrating the ballpark into the surrounding neighborhood, making it a sports palace for all the people? Are the K Street lobbyists already swarming through the HOK designers' offices, corrupting the creative process? (Major league hat tip to Mike Zurawski for bringing this story to my attention.)
The Dodgers are replacing all of the 1970s-era plastic seats in their stadium with new, more brightly colored ones. The close-in sections that were added last year and in 1999 will have real, old-fashioned box seats, "enhanced by an integrated table amenity." Ugh. About 500 seats from these sections will be removed to create additional legroom. See Dodgers Web site. (Hat tip to Mike Zurawski)
The scaffolding in front of the former "406 Club" suites at Fenway Park collapsed on Friday afternoon. For details, see thebostonchannel.com; hat tip to Maury Brown, of SABR. Well, as long as the main roof and support beams hold up... The Sept. 22 issue of Rolling Stone magazine had a feature story on the Rolling Stones concert tour of North America. It included a photo of Mick and the other "lads" on stage before the inaugural show at Fenway Park in August.