Incredible shrinking stadiums
A Washington Post article about the Redskins' plans to reduce the seating capacity of FedEx Field once again reminded me that the same thing has been happening at some baseball stadiums recently. And with good reason: In many cases, planners in the 1990s badly overestimated how many fans would attend baseball games. Now, a sense of realism is taking hold. With the renovations to Progressive (ex-Jacobs) Field this year, the seating capacity has declined from 42,487 to 36,856, a net loss of 5,631 seats. (I'm still waiting to see a good photo of exactly what changed.) In addition, the capacity of PETCO Park in San Diego has declined 1,138 since last year, as explained in the note about the diagram update below. Similar things have happened in recent years at Coors Field, Kauffman Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Tropicana Field, U.S. Cellular Field, and Oakland ("o.co") Coliseum, where they simply closed the upper deck and covered it with a gigantic tarp.
Other prospective "shrunken" stadiums, based on urban population and past attendance figures, might included Chase Field and Globe Life Park in Arlington. On the other hand, the capacity New Yankee Stadium was reduced by about 700 to less than 50,000, which is way too small for a city the size of New York.
So, I set about to make a systematic record of all such changes over the past decade. The following table lists stadiums in order of their nominal capacity for 2015. As noted by underlines and italics, some of those figures are misleading.
|Yankee Stadium II
|Rogers Centre / Skydome
|Globe Life Park in Arlington
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards
|Anaheim (Angel) Stadium
|Busch Stadium III
|Citizens Bank Park
|Great American Ballpark
|Minute Maid Park*
|U.S. Cellular Field
|Progressive (Jacobs) Field
Italics: capacity probably overstated.
Underlined: Potential capacity understated, due to many seating sections being closed.
The mean (average) seating capacity is 42,957, and the median capacity is 41,908.
PETCO Park update
I was aware of the changes in the left field seats at PETCO Park this year, but it took a long time for me to figure out exactly what changed. From what I can tell, basically they removed a few rows of seats from the front and back of the upper deck in left field, and did likewise to the lower deck out there, while adding two rows of seats in front, reducing the distances slightly. There is also a big new video scoreboard, extending into space formerly occupied by advertising signs, so the diagram doesn't reflect that. (For a full explanation of the changes, see MLB.com.)
And so, I have made all the necessary changes to the PETCO Park diagrams, including a lower-deck version for the first time. As so often happens, that inclusion exposed certain flaws in the main diagram, so I had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how all the pieces fit together. The precise arrangement of the stairs surrounding each of the entry portals in the upper deck is now shown with a darker gray shade. Note that the entry portals are not visible from directly above because of the unusually tall disjuncture between the upper and lower portions of the upper deck. Enjoy!
"On the road" again
That's right, it's time for my annual baseball sojourn! Unlike last year, when I went west and then southwest, this year I'm going north and then west. If all goes according to plan, I'll see the Tampa Bay Rays play in Toronto, the Seattle Mariners play in Detroit, and the St. Louis Cardinals play in Chicago (south side; interleague game). Maybe even another game in Kansas City and/or St. Louis; we might have another all-Missouri World Series this year, like in 1985! I'll see you when I get back, about August 10 or so.