Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The New Ballpark is Here!

The Washington Post has drawings of the new Nationals ballpark released today, with views from four directions.

First impression? A modern Cleveland Municipal Stadium, AKA the "mistake on the lake". The main seating bowl is round for some reason, which, I think, necessarily puts seats farther from the field.

I will need convincing on this one.

UPDATE: It's been a few hours, and I've seen some more images and the video. (Just a Nats Fan has some great shots from the announcement). I'm still not convinced. I didn't want a "olde time" brick faced like Camden Yards -- last year I said we should build something reminiscent of the Federal Triangle, and SuperNoVa found a good shot of the Reagan Building that captured the idea. I don't mind the decision to go modern with "steel and glass" -- the problem is that it is much harder to make something memorable taking that route. You run the risk of conjuring up a K Street office building rather than the monuments, and I fear that is what we have.

The curved facade is a problem, in my view, as is the super-high pressbox. I also think the "knife-edge" section looks silly, disconnected from the rest of the design, idiosyncratic. They do not convey the image of a "park" or "ballpark" or "yard" or "ballyard". They convey only "stadium". In fact, the more I look at the designs, the more it looks like a football stadium. The pressbox will make the reporters and broadcasters grumpy, and also put them farther away from the action, making their job of calling and reporting on the game harder.

I wish I could be more excited, like Banks of the Anacostia. And, to be sure, it will be a nice place to see a ballgame, and better than RFK in a lot of ways, other than proximity and height of the seats, which will be dramatically farther from the action. But my expectations were high, for something truly memorable. It may look much different in person, but I'm not optimistic.

In fact, what we have is a physical representation of the whole shoddy process that got our beloved Nats here. It is a monument to the lack of leadership from Mayor Williams, the absence of consensus he should have developed, the political games played by the DC council at the last minute. It lacks grand vision, and reflects tinkering to please indifferent and uncomitted kibitzers who whined loud enough to be heard. In five years we will forget all of that nonsense, but unfortunately we'll also forget what this design was supposed to be all about.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger El Gran Color Naranja said...

When you said it was round I was hoping for an expanse of foul territory. Now that would be something you don't see everyday.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger DM said...

Nope, sorry. Looks like the dimensions are smaller than RFK, and so is the foul ground. I'm told by reputable sources that this was left out of the narrative for the drawings:

"The purpose of the rounded bowl is to ensure that only those paying the highest prices for seats are relatively close to the field, and other lesser fans enjoy breezy locations at a safe distance from the action."

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is a cool video of the stadium from the architects

go to www.dcbubble.blogspot.com

At 9:08 PM, Blogger dexys_midnight said...

You know, you have to watch that video a few times and pause in appropriate places to get a real feel of the place, but it's actually a little better than I expected. I, like SNV has advocated, would have rather seen the use of a granite facade to make it feel like the granduer of the old government buildings, but the glass may actually give the place a cool and in some aspects unique feel. The video also shows, thankfully, that there will be (we hope) a nice view of the Capitol from the first base line looking out towards left field (coincidentally, the good view should be available from our seats :-) ). In all, I'll reserve judgment and won't criticize...yet.


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