Friday, October 07, 2005

Sickening Stadium

Thanks to the always-invaluable William World News comes a link from the City Paper with details about the Stadium. It's an EXCELLENT read, working off the planning documents HOK and the Nationals are using.

It's also sickening. Read all the details and see how the typical fan is being screwed over -- even more than expected. But in a city where everyone tries to create illusions of power to show how important they are, it's to be expected.

I'm going to excerpt large portions, but read the whole thing for the stunning and stupifying details.

Planning documents provided by the Sports Commission reveal that each luxury suite will be appointed with a “24 oz. carpet…wood veneer millwork and stone countertops… [r]efrigerator, ice maker, chafing dishes, plasma TV, computer connectivity, bar sinks.” The club seats—“a premium seating area for a premium price”—will share a concourse with the suites and, if recent stadiums are any guide, will likely feature waiter service and special parking privileges....

Down at field level, there will be a special 500-seat home-plate section called the Founders Club...Just above the Founders Club will be the 1,300-seat Diamond Club—think junior partners at Wilmer Cutler and Gilbert Arenas’ entourage. And that’s it for the seating behind home plate. Yup, the only chairs within earshot of the catcher are in the ballpark’s superpremium sections....

In a June 7 letter, the Sports Commission once again bridled at the Nationals’ requests for more premium seating. “The inclusion of eight Founders Suites will add [square footage] to the building and increase finishing costs,” the missive explained. The Nats’ stadium consultant also wrote that the team “expected the Party Suites to be located on a separate level above or below the Suite Level.” In a June 23 letter, the Sports Commission responded that “we believe that minimizing the number of separate levels is more cost effective than increasing the height of the section by adding another level.”

A look at the current state of the stadium shows that the Sports Commission hasn’t exactly stuck to its guns. HOK’s Spear says that the supposedly budget-busting conference center is now an approved part of the stadium plans. Same thing for the Diamond Club lounge. Two-thousand club seats? Make that 2,500. What about those 74 suites? Revise that up to 78—oh yeah, and they’ll all be on the infield dirt. The architects crammed the boxes in by stacking them on top of each other. The plan is to cram 58 standard luxury suites with 16 seats apiece, 10 Party Suites with 24 seats each, and two Owners Suites with 24 seats each into a two-story space; there will also be eight megadeluxe 16-seat Founders Suites on the field level....

Nationals fans had it lucky. Those Diamond Club seats that went for just $90 here typically go for three times that amount. Those same seats in Tampa Bay are $200. Not anymore, I suspect.

The seats in the upper deck will be 19". The City Paper notes that they're currently 20-21". What about legroom? Scrunch up!
According to planning documents, nonpremium rows in the ballpark’s lower concourse will measure 33 inches from front to back—that’s 2 to 3 fewer inches than you’ll get in parts of RFK Stadium’s lower deck. Oh, and don’t forget that your chair’s going to fill about 20 of those inches.

I hope you enjoyed your view from the 400s.
HOK’s June 30 concept design showed the upper concourse at an elevation of 87 feet, 3 inches. That’s 15 feet higher off the ground than RFK’s top deck. But that was before the architects, the Nationals, and the Sports commission settled on a double-decker luxury section. Spear says the drawings he’s now working on will place the upper deck another 6 feet higher.

Want some clean, cold water? Be prepared to pony up.
According to planning documents, the stadium’s public concourses will be outfitted with nonrefrigerated drinking fountains. In other words, bubblers that spew swamp fill: At a mid-July afternoon game, with the temperature around 95, those WASA pipes will discharge a lukewarm chlorine-lead brew. In the suites and club-seating section, the fountains will serve up cold water.

At least we know what the dimensions are finally -- hey, quirky outfield dimensions. That's original!
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.

It seems that our worst fears really have come true. If you've got an expense account or lots of disposable income, you'll be fine. But if you're a schlub who likes to go the occasional game, you'll have a worse view and worse seats for higher prices. But at least you'll have more concession stands with higer prices to buy things at!


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