December 7, 2014 [LINK / comment]

At last!!! Dodger Stadium update

Several weeks behind schedule, the diagrams for Dodger Stadium Dodger Stadium are now up to my highest standards in terms of accuracy and inclusion of details. As for accuracy, the biggest change is that the angle of the grandstand as a whole is slightly more acute. I determined this by carefully inspecting photographs to see where the line marked by the front row of seats extends. (Getting photographs taken from the right perspective makes all the difference.) In addition, the profile is much more accurate than before, and attempts to be more realistic in showing the lower deck as a slab embedded in the earth, rather than as a schematic wedge, as nearly all of my diagrams presently do. It's hard to know exactly how deep the foundations of most stadiums are, but in this case, there are plenty of photographs showing the excavation when most of the lower deck was rebuilt in early 2013.

As an example of new detail, mainly for aesthetic purposes, you can see the trademark zig-zag roof that partly covers the outfield pavilions, as well as the trees beyond. (I decided not to worry about the exact number or position of trees for the time being.) Other new details include the small staircases in front of the bleacher sections, and the scoreboards that protrude a few feet in front of the lights behind those same bleachers. Aside from the sides of the bleachers, the only entry portals are in the upper deck, for which there is a new "no-roof" version diagram. There is also a new 2014 version diagram, which differs from the 2005 version mainly in displaying the newly-built peripheral buildings: team stores, eateries, restrooms, etc. To provide enough room to show those additions, I created a new "full-view" diagram. Finally, there is a hockey version diagram.

As often happens, there were several points over the past couple weeks at which I thought I had Dodger Stadium all wrapped up. For nearly a day I was stumped because I could not reconcile the position of the light towers and the roofs with number of seats in the third and fourth decks. Finally, I realized that the ten-foot discrepancy was the result of the roof supports being in front of the third row from the back of the third deck. Yes, there are some obstructed seats there! (Supposedly some of those upper-deck seats have been closed off in recent years, but I couldn't figure out exactly which sections were affected.) I also had some trouble trying to figure out how many rows there are in the third deck in the segment underneath the fourth deck, and likewise in how much overhang there is.

One minor correction just a couple days ago stemmed from a chance look at a photograph showing the alignment of the end of the grandstand just beyond the foul pole(s). Previously, I had those ends pointing toward the vicinity of second base, when in fact they point toward at least 20 feet beyond the infield dirt. As a result, the furthest point in the rear corner of the grandstand (near the foul poles) is now about ten feet closer to home than it used to be. Another vexing headache was trying to reconcile the front edge of the grandstand in the original configuration (1962-1999) with the area covered by the extended infield seating sections built in 2005. I finally realized that the back row of the new seats occupies space where the original first row used to be, i.e., they overlap. Small differences like that often yield huge differences in the overall diagram.

Finishing Dodger Stadium was one of the biggest remaining hurdles toward my goal of estimating the total playing area of all current and past MLB stadiums. From 1969 until 2000 it had about 33,500 square feet foul territory, one of the biggest in the majors. (It's now only about 19,300 square feet.) Fair territory was originally (1962-1968) about 115,800 square feet, which is quite spacious, and since 1969 it has been about 110,500 square feet feet, which is just a bit above average. I'm fairly confident in my fair and foul territory estimates for nearly all remaining stadiums on my "to-do" list, but some double-checking will be necessary.

Dodger Stadium was featured in several movies, including The Satan Bug (1965), Superman Returns (2006), in which Superman prevents a jetliner that is carrying a Space Shuttle from crashing, and The Core (2003), in the scene where the Space Shuttle Endeavour flew over during a Colorado Rockies-Los Angeles Dodgers game and (if I understand correctly) makes an emergency crash landing. (Thanks to Daley Holder for that tip.)

Among the sources in getting all the features of the 2013-2014 renovations correct were and Of course, the fine photographs in the books Ballparks Yesterday and Today (John Pastier et al.), Green Cathedrals (Phil Lowry), and Blue Skies Green Fields (Ira Rosen) proved very useful in getting everything just right.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, this is a major revision to the diagrams of a very important stadium, and represents one of the biggest landmarks in my diagramming endeavors of the past few years. It's a good thing the Dodgers didn't make it to the World Series in October, as that would have put almost unbearable pressure on me to get an accurate diagram out on time!

My last update to the Dodger Stadium diagrams was in January 2009 -- nearly six years ago! It once again reminds me how badly other diagrams need to be updated. In particular, I have realized that the upper deck in my PNC Park diagram is about ten feet too shallow, so I have gotten to work fixing that. Otherwise, nearly all of my other current MLB stadium diagrams are pretty accurate, with relatively minor corrections or enhancements to make ... I hope!

I'll report some news on soccer in D.C., Steven Souza Jr., Jayson Werth, and others tomorrow...