16 November 2005


Since I live within a 20 minute walk of Diridon South, I decided to do a fairly in-depth amateur study of the site. One distinctive aspect of the site its shape: it's not a typical square or rectangular city block. The site was formed by city planners who, decades ago, decided that parallel one-way streets were needed in the area. The streets, Autumn and Montgomery, converge just north of Park Avenue. Los Gatos Creek also comes in from the northeast to encroach on available thoroughfare space.

It occurred to me that I had seen a shape similar to this near-trapezoid before. Then it hit me. When Wolff announced his Oakland plan (drawn up by 360 architecture) there were many comparisons to Fenway Park, from its simple two-deck design to the eerie similarities to Fenway's right field corner. So I did a little playing around with Google Earth and came up with the following photos:

Fenway Park

Diridon South Concept
(click picture for larger version)

It just so happened that I was trying to figure out how the PG&E substation at Diridon South could be reconfigured to stay on site, and the picture above has in my opinion the most likely scenario, at least when we're talking about raw land requirements (nearly two acres for the substation). At the same time, I tried to incorporate as much as I could of what I interpreted was in 360's model. It's a fairly tight fit, but it seems to work. It is quite a coincidence that Diridon South is shaped similarly to Fenway. The only other urban ballpark that bears a passing resemblance to Fenway is Jacobs Field in Cleveland, and Jacobs was shoehorned into its 12 acres in a different manner and into a more aggreable lot shape for a ballpark. China Basin has the arcade/promenade act like a mirror image of the Green Monster, but the rest of the park has little in common with Fenway.

Wolff/360 Architecture/Gensler concept

Obviously, some modifications would need to be made to adapt 360's non-site-specific model to Diridon South, but they aren't major. The left field building is cribbed from Petco Park, but it's simply an element that can be easily moved. I find it curious that 360's concept evokes images of Fenway so strongly. Yes, it is in all likelihood a coincidence. But if they wanted to create one that could fit pretty easily into the Diridon South footprint, they're probably 90% of the way there.


tony d. said...

Great work Marinelayer! As a San Jose supporter, I couldn't help but get excited by your concept. The Merc also made a "coincidence" case back when the 360 renderings came out (they even referred to SJ supporter as "zealots"...go figure). Any word on Oakland ML? Have they started acquiring land for Wolffs 90 acres, ala Diridon South?

murf said...

I remember thinking, when you created your first Diridon concept with a SW orientation, that it looked remarkably similar to Fenway.

I don't know if I would accept 360's model configuration as mere coincidence. Not saying they were designing for Diridon, but if Diridon is the most constrained location in the realm of possibilities for a stadium site, it makes some sense to create a model that can be adapted to those constraints. If a site in Oakland works out, they still have a workable design.

Kevin said...


Nice work!

Quick question about the Diridon site. I know the site is just south of the HP Pavillion. On the few times I've flown into Mineta, I've noticed you do fly over fairly close to HP. How bad do you think aircraft noise will be, especially when they takeoff to the south? Would it be like Shea Stadium?

Marine Layer said...

Another interesting coincidence. Shea is just over a mile from two major LaGuardia runways. I've only seen one game at LAG and I wasn't keeping track of the planes. The problems with Shea are the frequency of planes and the fact that those runways are used for both takeoffs and landings, depending on weather.

SJC is almost two miles from Diridon South. The vast majority of planes will be landing from the south so they won't be nearly as loud as planes that are taking off. It also helps that the site is 1/4 mile west of the two approaches. I've done some measurements there, and while I've seen my sound meter spike to 70 dB, it usually stays below 65 dB. Oddly enough, the greatest noise comes from small planes and not jets. Small planes have an approach that's closer to Diridon South.

murf said...

Not to mention the most common of the two scenarios in which planes would take off to the south (heavy precipitation, poor approach visibility) would also cause a rainout. The only conceivable time in which a game would be taking place while planes took off to the south is when we experience a valley-to-bay offshore wind, which very rarely happens, and when it does, almost exclusively happens in the winter.

On a positive note, flight restrictions due to airport flightlines would mean a fan at Diridon South would never be subject to bi-plane banner advertisements.
Does anyone know if there is blimp coverage of games at LAG? Can blimps get high enough over flight paths to satisfy FAA regs?

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Diridon South senario as you have things laid out is that the ballpark is facing south. This would mean that the sun would be in the batters eyes which is a no no in ballpark design.

Marine Layer said...

Not true. Regardless of season, when the sun is in the south, it's more likely to be directly overhead than in the batter's view. Fall and spring sunsets will occur behind the right field grandstand, and will move gradually north to near first base as summer approaches.

The general rule is that the batter can't face west. MLB has a preferred orientation of ENE (east-northeast), and this would be turned 90 degrees to the south. The batter still won't be facing west, which is what really counts in the end.

Even with that, the advent of 40' x 80' batter's eyes has also mitigating the sun problem a bit. Batter's eyes didn't exist when the original guidelines were drawn up. The bottom line is that the sun shouldn't be an issue, unless the batter's eye reflects a large amount of light as was the case in San Francisco and San Diego.