March 14, 2006 [LINK]
New D.C. baseball stadium unveiled
We can all exhale now: The future home of the Nationals looks pretty good, after all. What is most striking about the new stadium is the curved permimeter, which stands in stark contrast to every other "Neoclassical" stadium except for Great American Ballpark. It apparently has four main decks, but the top two decks may be partly connected, as in several other newly built stadiums. It retains the glass and stone exterior style that has been rumored, rather than the red brick style that traditionalists such as D.C. Councilman Jack Evans had hoped for. (I was leaning that way too, but I am also aware of the need to create a truly distinctive design.) As widely expected, it will be oriented toward the northeast, wedged into the intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. It has some interesting features: The lights are placed along the rim of the stadium roof, as at Yankee Stadium (post-1976), and no light towers are evident at all. Behind home plate at the very top is a three-tier press box / luxury suite section that occupies a void between the two wings of the upper decks. There is a wide staircase and promenade from the Anacostia waterfront to the gap between the upper decks on the first base side. As at Citizens Bank Park, the grandstand beyond that gap is not as high as is the main part. (That is one of the only features shared by my proposed D.C. stadium design.) There will be a double-decked bleacher section in right center field, with the scoreboard on top. In the plaza beyond left center field there is some kind of circular building. It's hard to get a sense of the outfield shape, but there appears to be a straight diagonal stretch of fence at the left field corner. [Adjacent thumbnail-size image, and the moving image seen in a pop-up window when you click on it, are used with permission from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission; note updated link. Also see HOK architectural firm.] Their Web site also includes a link to dcballpark.com, which implies that it is operated by the consortium of Clark Construction, Hunt Construction Group, and Smoot Construction.
The Washington Post has an analysis, as well as some artist's renderings that show the surrounding neighborhood. Hat tip to Rudy Riet, who sponsors the RFK Stadium page. Does that old place really have only two years left to go? We should know in the next month or two whether the 2008 completion target for the new ballpark is realistic or not.
I'll have much more to say on this subject after I've had more time to mull over the details. Stay tuned. Once again, I welcome fan feedback, especially from folks who have been visiting for a while but haven't taken the time to write. I can't promise that I'll answer every message, but I will try my best.
UPDATE: Maury Brown, one of the leading stadium experts at SABR, announced the new D.C. stadium design at his blog, The Baseball Journals. LATER UPDATE: Maury has included some additional images, including a semi-detailed overhead view of the playing field, which has some intriguing angles, some of which are contrived and some that are a logical fit to the surrounding street grid. Interestingly, the left-center and right-center fences (both mostly straight) intersect in dead center field much like at Wrigley Field (L.A.). Now that I've seen the outfield layout, I'm a bit more impressed, overall.
Feedback from fans
UPDATE: Sean Holland has some very thoughtful things to say about this; click HERE to read it. I'm still working on making this a regular feature, even as I toil away at the diagrams (!), but I figure I can do it on a one-time basis for such an important occasion. LATER UPDATE: Giuseppe Mirizzi and Mike Zurawski added their two cents. Mike alerted me to the story at MLB.com, including outfield dimensions.
Nick Johnson signs
Nick Johnson has signed a contract with the Nationals for three more years, which is great news. To me, he is one of the irreplaceable "core" team players. But then, that's what I thought about Vinny Castilla and Brad Wilkerson... See MLB.com.
Classic era ballparks
Ever-vigilant Steven Poppe, just back from the WBC in Arizona, noticed I had posted a preliminary rough version of a reoriented Sportsmans Park diagram. Can't put nothin' past him! I have now finished the touch-ups on it, but have not added the early (1909-1925) versions that will be part of the "dynamic diagram." At this point, I'm becoming more inclined to finish the basic versions of the remaining Classic Era ballparks rather than finishing all the versions for each successive one, which consumed so much time with Shibe Park. Then there's the new Busch Stadium III to do...