16 March 2006

More DC Ballpark Images

The many-hatted Maury Brown got an interview with HOK Sport principal Earl Santee. The interview's not up yet, but in the interim Santee provided Brown with more drawings of the Nats' next home. The one I was most interested in was a cross-section, just to see how it compared with drawings I've worked up.

I properly scaled and overlaid one of my own cross-section images and here's what I got:

The DC cross-section is somewhat faded in the background for better contrast. Look at how high it is. The lights on my concept are lower than the middle row in the upper deck. My top row is only 83' above the field compared to 115' in DC. I'm no architect, but I have an understanding of space and sight lines, and the DC design would be offensive to me if I didn't already know that the extra height is a necessity borne of the premium facilities the building will contain. I also acknowledge that at 41,000 seats, it's a full 6,000 more than what I've put together, but it wouldn't be too hard to add a few thousand in the outfield or on a temporary basis within the seating bowl since there's plenty of space to do so.

The $611 million, triple-deck ballpark will actually have six circulation levels (not seating levels) whereas mine has four (four-and-one-half, really). That's a lot of extra concrete and steel. Building some 30-40 feet higher will necessitate more hefty structural work. Since the DC ballpark will have 78 luxury suites on two separate, unconnected levels, there will be additional costs associated with added concourse and lobby space. Like China Basin, there will be two club areas: one at field level behind the plate and another taking up the entire mezzanine. Extra amenities like the "innovative" conference center and the more familiar centerfield restaurant will both be decked out appropriately for both gameday and non-gameday use (think maple tables and cabinets).

The sad part of this is that it doesn't appear that there are many places to cut costs unless quality is sacrificed. The decision to use glass and limestone-colored concrete instead of glass and limestone is an indicator of this. The lack of escalators to the upper deck is another. The District will absorb the vast majority of the bill, and unless they can figure a way to make a private group (such as the team) pay for underground parking, there's a good chance that costs will only increase over time.