February 13, 2007
Sunday's Washington Post provided new details about the new stadium being built along the Anacostia River. One unique aspect of it is the oval-shaped home team club house / locker room, as in Oval Office. The supposed purpose is to give all players a equal status, with no privileged corner locations. One of the architects, Marshall Purnell, had visited AT&T Park (then SBC Park) in 2005 and made note of the positive and not-so-positive features. Until the recent cold snap, construction progress was proceeding on schedule and on budget -- a minor miracle by Washington standards. The main structure should be completed by the end of the summer, after which all the wiring, plumbing, landscaping, seat installation, and finishing work will begin. Because the project is proceeding on an urgent, accelerated pace (due to the delays caused by resistance on the D.C. Council one year ago), many details were not decided upon when the construction got underway; they call that "fast-track design."
The Post also recently reported that the ramp leading up to the Frederick Douglass bridge will be lowered considerably, so that it reaches ground level by the time it gets to the stadium. The work will begin this summer and hopefully finished by next spring.
In today's Washington Post, Thomas Boswell looks on the bright side of the Nationals' rebuilding efforts as spring training begins. He grants that he may have been a bit harsh on team president Stan Kasten, and compares the team in Washington to the team in Atlanta that Kasten built nearly twenty years ago.
However, Kasten is correct on one crucial point that, in time, may trump all others. The Nats are far ahead of his old Braves in assembling a core of young veteran players who could become a contender within just a few years.
Boswell observes that the Nationals have seven solid regular players (eight once Nick Johnson's leg is fully healed), and aside from the "barren" starting rotation, the team looks very promising for the future. It's a hell of a crap shoot counting on untested young pitchers to rise to the occasion, and counting on fans to maintain their loyalty through this trying year of transition to becoming a genuine, autonomous major league franchise. The former Montreal Expos franchise suffered from years of neglect, and it will take years to put things back on track.
The attendance was paltry, but the end of the Pro Bowl was actually exciting enough to be worth watching. The NFC team somehow erased a 14-point deficit in the final minutes, and then allowed the AFC to quickly get within field goal range and win. Most of the details I noted in Aloha Stadium seemed consistent with my stadium diagram, except for the wide-open gap between the two decks.