Monday, August 08, 2005

A Glimpse Of The Stadium

David Nakamura has a front-page look at the architect for the new stadium and the many challenges he faces.

It's a good read, and gives a few glimpes, here and there, about what we can expect. (See this graphic for a snapshot)

Just a few thoughts....

The ballpark will be oriented towards the northeast. The Capitol should be visible if you're sitting on the first-base side, and the Washington Monument if you're in the upper deck. It couldn't be oriented the other way, because that would place the setting sun in the batter's eye.

It appears that each side will have a separate facade. The S. Capitol Street side will be stone and glass to form a link with DC. The Anacostia side will be of steel and glass (think of any other HOK project you've ever seen).

The ballpark isn't directly on the water, and they won't have development rights of the waterfont. They're held by a separate corporation. So tie-ins, such as a water taxi, or a great waterfront promenade, would need to be worked out as a partnership (ha!), and wouldn't necessarily be reflected in the initial design of the stadium.

They plan on using Half St, which would run the two blocks from the Metro to the Stadium as a central corridor for restaurants and retail. I would suspect that a portion of that would be team controlled, ala Eutah Street in Bawlmer.

What's interesting, and I'm not sure whether this is the reality of the situation, or just me reading into things, is that the city seems to want to develop around S. Capitol Street, and the developers around Half St.

Half Street looks like it'd make more sense. People aren't usually going to walk a block or two out of their way if they don't have to (especially in this heat!).

As far as the actual stadium design, expect an assymetrical outfield to "provide more interesting bounces on long hits." Woo. That's fun. (Now, unless they'd slant the walls so that balls would bounce high up into the air, or create curvy chutes, such as the rightfield wall in Fenway, there's not that much interesting with wall bounces.)

They also plan to have 'seating neighborhoods'. Yay. If you've ever looked at Philly's seating chart, for example, all 'seating neighborhoods' do is create confusing ticket price schemes. They claim that it creates 'intimacy' in a large park. If I'm not mistaken, a smaller stadium that's close to the action (Which HOK isn't known for) is what creates intimicy (Man, I hate that word; it's a completely meaningless word -- when it comes to ballparks, at least).

Which leads me to the most distressing part of the article...

"Team President Tony Tavares recently requested that all 66 luxury boxes be on the mezzanine level between first base and third base so big-spending patrons would have prime views of the field. Spear agreed to design stacked boxes."

And my worst fears have come true.

Are you enjoying your view from the 400 section behind the plate?

Kiss it goodbye.

With a stacked luxury box setup, the upper deck will probably start at about where the 500 section begins today. (if not higher!) Not only that, but it will probably be further away from the plate.

Oh, and expect your ticket prices to go up. Those seats, which currently have a gate price of $20, will probably be closer to $30 by the time the new stadium is up and running.

So, appreciate the good views at RFK while you can. Unless you can spare a few thousand for a luxury box, or field level seats, is as good as you're probably going to get.


  • Why praytell is Tony Tavares making any decisions on a new ballpark? I know the new owners more than likely will end up in the same place, but Tony needs to focus on the present because he has no certainty in the future.

    By Blogger Brian, at 8/08/2005 9:43 AM  

  • That's the exact reason that TT was brought in. He's, apparently, good at this sort of stuff.

    What I'd be interested in seeing, though, is how the Gift Ban will affect prices.

    The reason that the Diamond Club seats are only $90 (when every other team, including the Stink Rays, sells them for twice as much) is because of that. They can write it off as two separate transactions (A game and a dinner) and be below the limit.

    If the prices get higher, it'll create some problems.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 9:45 AM  

  • Good post, but I have to quibble with the point about stacked luxury boxes. SBC Park (an HOK design) has them, and I sat in the Upper Deck behind home plate their Tuesday night (probably 20 rows down from the very top of the park), and the perspective from their was terrific. And there were probably 20 rows below me down to the railing, including the "View Box" section which would be comparable to the 400 level at RFK. I suspect it is slightly farther from the field than the 400 level, but ultimately I think it won't be as bad as you predict (I hope, anyway).

    By Blogger DM, at 8/08/2005 9:46 AM  

  • Use Camden Yards as an example. If you're right behind the plate, they're not bad. But, as you move down the line, the combo of distance from the plate, and height of the upper deck makes for a pretty bad seat for the price.

    I think Comiskey (or whatever the hell they call it today) has the tiered boxes. And everyone kvetches about the height there.

    Take sympathy with the common man, DM! ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 9:49 AM  

  • It appeared that the stacked boxes in SBC were farther back under the upper deck than other stadiums, so this probably helps keep the seats closer to the field.

    I have plenty of sympathy for the common man. But how are we going to afford paying guys like Guzman and Wilson to entertain him?

    By Blogger DM, at 8/08/2005 9:55 AM  

  • That one's pretty easy... Do you really think that your seats are going to be $40 in the new stadium? ;)

    And I'm sure there'll be an uptick in the price of Deepin' Dots that'll catastrophically affect someone dear to your heart. (Note: Not Livan)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 9:56 AM  

  • Well, we can always put together a petition to keep the team in RFK !

    By Blogger DM, at 8/08/2005 10:00 AM  

  • Good idea!

    Know where we can find any allies in our cause?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 10:01 AM  

  • Let's start with the D.C. City Council. That'll give us six.

    By Blogger DM, at 8/08/2005 10:05 AM  

  • I'll run out and follow the scent of hemp. That'll probably lead me in the right direction.

    Hey, and there's DCist!

    Stay at RFK!

    But what would we do with all the extra money?

    Schools? Or line our own pockets?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 10:10 AM  

  • Well, the "D.C. way" is to give it to schools AND line our pockets, by setting up a company that wins lucrative contracts with the schools for no work. The hemp crowd will be too stoned to notice the money flow.

    By Blogger DM, at 8/08/2005 10:14 AM  

  • ... or work for the teacher's union, apparently. Although, they do seem to be cracking down on that!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 10:16 AM  

  • Sure, but you can still be a principal and make a cool 50-large selling some school buses to Panama.

    By Blogger DM, at 8/08/2005 10:19 AM  

  • I know the idea of staying at RFK was meant it jest...since the team will be stuck there for another three seasons. I know that if they stay at RFK that long I'll no longer buy full seasons (I have two now), because RFK is the absolute worst major league stadium.

    Stacked boxes or not, the 400s (or their equivalen) weren't going to stay $20 ($15 season) for long. I'm betting there'll be an increase next year, so we can pay for the abominable mistakes on the left side of the infield.

    By Anonymous A wary fan, at 8/08/2005 10:34 AM  

  • It's going to be a tough balance next year though. You'll have owners who are going to want to recoup some of their investment, but...

    ... the team's freefall won't help. It's definitely leaving a bad taste in people's mouths.

    And many of the season ticket holders, I suspect won't be as excited next year. You won't have the opening game, and with the huge amount of no-shows, people will probably realize they can cut back.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 10:36 AM  

  • A and I are cutting back, that's for sure.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 8/08/2005 12:03 PM  

  • Who is David Nakamura and why should I trust him?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/08/2005 12:14 PM  

  • Click on the link.

    He's the sports business writer for the Post.

    And his info is coming from the architect.

    Unless it's that liberal media screwing with our heads, it's pretty safe to trust him.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/08/2005 12:15 PM  

  • "Stacked boxes or not, the 400s (or their equivalen) weren't going to stay $20 ($15 season) for long. I'm betting there'll be an increase next year, so we can pay for the abominable mistakes on the left side of the infield."

    You are going to pay more than $20 because the demand warrants it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/08/2005 6:19 PM  

  • "You are going to pay more than $20 because the demand warrants it."

    Which I wouldn't mind, if the normal rules of economics applied. I don't know what percentage of the 400s are seasons. But no matter, since I won't mind moving up to 500s. I imagine that I might be able to get a vendor to come around once in a while - 48 games I've attended this year, the same beer vendor has made it down the aisle I'm on three times - that's it. No other vendors of any kind. "Turn around and yell for them" I've been told. Yeah, that's an option. So is just not coming to the games because RFK is a dump with a staff that doesn't care or try. Then again, some folks tell me I should be happy just because there's baseball available. I'd've been happier if I knew that baseball would eventually have ended up in northern Virginia.

    By Anonymous A wary fan, at 8/08/2005 7:39 PM  

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