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March 14, 2006 [LINK]

New D.C. baseball stadium unveiled

New DC Stadium We can all exhale now: The future home of the Nationals looks pretty good, after all. What is most striking about the new stadium is the curved permimeter, which stands in stark contrast to every other "Neoclassical" stadium except for Great American Ballpark. It apparently has four main decks, but the top two decks may be partly connected, as in several other newly built stadiums. It retains the glass and stone exterior style that has been rumored, rather than the red brick style that traditionalists such as D.C. Councilman Jack Evans had hoped for. (I was leaning that way too, but I am also aware of the need to create a truly distinctive design.) As widely expected, it will be oriented toward the northeast, wedged into the intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. It has some interesting features: The lights are placed along the rim of the stadium roof, as at Yankee Stadium (post-1976), and no light towers are evident at all. Behind home plate at the very top is a three-tier press box / luxury suite section that occupies a void between the two wings of the upper decks. There is a wide staircase and promenade from the Anacostia waterfront to the gap between the upper decks on the first base side. As at Citizens Bank Park, the grandstand beyond that gap is not as high as is the main part. (That is one of the only features shared by my proposed D.C. stadium design.) There will be a double-decked bleacher section in right center field, with the scoreboard on top. In the plaza beyond left center field there is some kind of circular building. It's hard to get a sense of the outfield shape, but there appears to be a straight diagonal stretch of fence at the left field corner. [Adjacent thumbnail-size image, and the moving image seen in a pop-up window when you click on it, are used with permission from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission; note updated link. Also see HOK architectural firm.] Their Web site also includes a link to, which implies that it is operated by the consortium of Clark Construction, Hunt Construction Group, and Smoot Construction.

The Washington Post has an analysis, as well as some artist's renderings that show the surrounding neighborhood. Hat tip to Rudy Riet, who sponsors the RFK Stadium page. Does that old place really have only two years left to go? We should know in the next month or two whether the 2008 completion target for the new ballpark is realistic or not.

I'll have much more to say on this subject after I've had more time to mull over the details. Stay tuned. Once again, I welcome fan feedback, especially from folks who have been visiting for a while but haven't taken the time to write. I can't promise that I'll answer every message, but I will try my best.

UPDATE: Maury Brown, one of the leading stadium experts at SABR, announced the new D.C. stadium design at his blog, The Baseball Journals. LATER UPDATE: Maury has included some additional images, including a semi-detailed overhead view of the playing field, which has some intriguing angles, some of which are contrived and some that are a logical fit to the surrounding street grid. Interestingly, the left-center and right-center fences (both mostly straight) intersect in dead center field much like at Wrigley Field (L.A.). Now that I've seen the outfield layout, I'm a bit more impressed, overall.

Feedback from fans

UPDATE: Sean Holland has some very thoughtful things to say about this; click HERE to read it. I'm still working on making this a regular feature, even as I toil away at the diagrams (!), but I figure I can do it on a one-time basis for such an important occasion. LATER UPDATE: Giuseppe Mirizzi and Mike Zurawski added their two cents. Mike alerted me to the story at, including outfield dimensions.

Nick Johnson signs

Nick Johnson has signed a contract with the Nationals for three more years, which is great news. To me, he is one of the irreplaceable "core" team players. But then, that's what I thought about Vinny Castilla and Brad Wilkerson... See

Classic era ballparks

Ever-vigilant Steven Poppe, just back from the WBC in Arizona, noticed I had posted a preliminary rough version of a reoriented Sportsmans Park diagram. Can't put nothin' past him! I have now finished the touch-ups on it, but have not added the early (1909-1925) versions that will be part of the "dynamic diagram." At this point, I'm becoming more inclined to finish the basic versions of the remaining Classic Era ballparks rather than finishing all the versions for each successive one, which consumed so much time with Shibe Park. Then there's the new Busch Stadium III to do...

Comments submitted via e-mail, inserted after the fact:

Bruce Orser:
I like the outfield areas. It seems to have the look of Memorial or Municipal in Cleve. I have never cared for the high decking of the modern parks, just too far from the field because of the height. You can say you were there when history is made but is hard to recognize a particular face on field from up there. I like everything but the high decking. I do favor the angles of the old park GS' to the contoured modern parks. Based on itself, I would give it a 7.6 Based on the Busch Stadiums of the past a 9.2. rating it against other modern retros maybe a 6.

Sean Holland:
the plan view makes it perfectly clear: this is a retro park. PNC, the Jake and GABP don't have red brick, and they're retro parks, so why wouldn't this one be?
They would've been much better served building your version, or something where the lines actually mattered, rather than possibly visible from a plan view no one will ever truly see.
I'm disappointed because, when it comes down to it, baseball needs to be strong in 4, maybe 5 locations: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington. As of right now, New York has two terrible parks (and their replacements are even worse, since the Yankees' one takes the worst of the horrid '75 renovation as its core), and Washington's just isn't too memorable from what I can see. The Yankees need to play in a palace, the Red Sox need an underdog park like Fenway, and Washington needs something grand and majestic.
This just isn't it.

Mike Zurawski:
According to it will be 332 to left, 377ft to left center, 409 to center, 370 to right center and 335 to right. Note, the new owner may change the dimensions but lets hope not. Also this article has a photo gallary/slide show on top. On slide 4 it shows the shape of the outfield walls it better detail than the 4 original pics.
The Washington Post has a video of the stadium. Pause at the 53 second mark. You can see the outfield in great detail and if you look in left center you can see the capital. I think they did a great job!!!

Giuseppe Mirizzi:
I must say, at first I hated it...I wanted it look like drawing that was put out a few months ago. But as I have stared at it for about an hour it is beginning to grow on me. It's not so much that I hate it, it is more like it is so different than any one I've seen or thought of. What do you think though? Some are calling it the "Mistake on the Lake 2".
How's this: The resemblance to the new stadium in Cincinnati is so strong, in terms of shape as well as construction materials, that I'm thinking of calling it "Great National(s) Ballpark."

Sean Holland:
Dying to know your thoughts. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I guess I'm a little annoyed at the talk about it not being a retro park. Like, there is some glass on the outside and inside (the round restaurant, for example), and the ticket building (I assume) coming to a razor-edge is cool, but isn't every other part of the park exactly the same as a retro park? Just because you replace red brick with concrete doesn't mean it's a radical departure from the previous decade's designs.
I'm also slightly annoyed that, in a very small plot of land, they didn't orient one of the walls right on the street, thus creating a reasonable need for an interesting dimension in the asymmetrical park, as opposed to the forced-oddity of places like Ameriquest and Petco.
I guess I was hoping for either one or two things. One, a park in the vein of Kauffman Stadium, with gorgeous, tapered lines that would make this instantly recognizable and unique among its peers. The inside would be symmetrical and fluid, instead of the stuttered sort of corners in so many parks these days. Or, if not this, why couldn't the park pick up on the great Washington landmarks, and go for a neoclassical design scheme? Doesn't a place as historic as Washington deserve their own Coliseum?
One thing to note, assuming you haven't picked up on it, is the differential in roof height between the main seating section and the right field upper deck, which I would assume is a visual reference to Griffith's grandstand.
So, I don't know, and I really want to see more angles of the park before finalizing my thoughts, but I guess I'm on the fence right now.
Thanks for reading.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 17 Mar 2007, 12: 30 AM

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