17 July 2006

Two words: UGH. LEE.

I just got a look at HNTB's concept for the new 49ers stadium:

How uninspiring. It doesn't help that the gold seats appear beige in the picture. Gone are the sweeping lines of the HOK design. So is the Mills mall, and with it, probably the $100 million that was promised for the project by the city (because of the jobs that come with the mall). The boxy layout is eerily reminiscent of work done by HNTB across the bay, otherwise known as Mount Davis. In fact, take the entire sideline section in shadow. Does it not look just a little like the Coliseum outfield?

It should be pointed out that like the A's ballpark concept by 360, there's no exterior treatment on this stadium, so it can't be judged by a face that doesn't exist. Still, while stacking the suites and boxes on one side of the field is commendable for cost-cutting and better sightlines for fans, the whole package can't help but look a bit like a bloated SEC college football stadium. The concept works well for Ford Field, where it's wrapped in a neat gimmick - the use of an office building in the stadium bowl covered by a dome - but it doesn't look right in this case. That big structure behind the suites looks like a retaining wall to prevent the nearby hill from collapsing onto it.

Supposedly the design is flexible enough to work as an Olympic stadium should the time come in 2016. I can see where the use of large numbers of portable seats (also like Mt. Davis) could make such a concept work. The open north end should facilitate this as well. But does anyone remember what Atlanta's Olympic Stadium looked like prior to its conversion to Turner Field? Thought so. This design just deadpans "bland."


Georob said...

Did anyone catch the last paragraph in the Chron's piece on this?

(Spokeswoman Lisa Lang) said the 49ers believed their best backup plan for a stadium site would be Santa Clara if the San Francisco proposal falls through. She said the team had engaged in very preliminary discussions with officials in Santa Clara, where the team has its headquarters and a practice facility, about placing a stadium there.

Haven't I said that San Jose should go after the 49'ers instead of the A's, only to be be shouted down every time I mention it?

Now perhaps John York and Co. wish to build a stadium cheap on land they already own down there (ie: the practice facility), but if they'd go to Santa Clara they'd surely consider San Jose.

Georob said...

Link to Chron article:

Marine Layer said...

A Santa Clara stadium can only work if they can buy surrounding land cheap from which they can build the necessary housing to fund it. If the A's "2000 units = $200 million" scale were applied, the 49ers would have to build 4000 units to get to half of the required $800 million. Unfortunately, there's no space to build 4000 units - not even if Great America were used, which it can't (not without land acquisition costs killing the deal).

Rob, you're getting shot down because costs are prohibitively high. If the Niners can answer the funding question, which is arguably more important than the site, then people can really start talking turkey.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Georob,
San Jose should pursue the 49ers. If they can't get the A's because of the Giants presence in SF, then let's take their football team! Some sites where a football stadium could be built in San Jose:
1) Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
2) Berryessa Flea Market site; sandwiched nicely between 680/101 and next to future BART.
3) Monterey Highway and Alma street (Southwest Corner); could be used as a joint 49er/SJSU stadium to replace the current Spartan stadium.
4) Coyote Valley; Lot's of space, good freeway access and next to Caltrain Line.
My gut feeling is that the price tag for the Hunters Point stadium will reach $1 billion, and it will never happen! By the way, any news on the A's stadium front?

Georob said...

You know Rhamesis, wherever ANY stadium for ANY team is built, it's going to cost something. (Perhaps they were trying to save money by proposing a stadium that's UGH-LEE!)

Frankly, I think the Niners should have partnered with Stanford on THEIR new stadium, but that's only going to be 50,000 max.

The point is that San Jose wants a major league team, the 49'ers need a new stadium, and there's no territorial rights to get in the way. Combine that with the Spartans needs and perhaps soccer, and you have the ingriedients for what could be a Downtown stadium.

And don't give me the "it won't work because of this, that, and whatever" Like I said, it's going to cost money wherever it is and unless Bill Gates wants to spend part of the fortune he's giving away down here, it's going to require some "out of the box" thinking. You have to think that San Jose is keeping an eye on this, albeit quietly.

However, would San Jose settle for the team remaining the "San Fancisco" 49'ers? With all the history, I can't see the Niners dropping "SF". In this respect, I doubt Santa Clara would insist on changing the name, though they supposedly were going to make such a demand on the Giants(which started this whole territorial rights mess to begin with).

However, don't count out SF so easily, even if the price tag hits a billion. The reality is that the 49'ers may have to wait until they're a playoff team before they get any more stadium help.

Anonymous said...

I really doubt the 49ers will leave San Francisco. They'll play another decade in ol' Candlestick before that happens. And why would they go through the pain of waiting and high cost to try to build in Santa Clara, or even worse, San Jose, when they can just stay put.

The only option for the 49ers to stay in San Francisco is to stay in undeveloped Hunters Point. There is nowhere else in SF that they can build a stadium, seeing as SF is already built out. They don't wanna leave SF, and they're not going to. So they'll go with this "UGH. LEE." stadium design which is probably much cheaper than the original concept and just be happy with their hearts in San Francisco.

baycommuter said...

Stanford wouldn't partner with the 49ers for several reasons:
1) worried about tax-exempt stadium from operating with a business.
2) doesn't sell alcohol on campus
3) agreements with Palo Alto call for limiting heavy traffic to a few days a year

peanut gallery said...

I'm not sure if the aesthetic value of the place is all that important. If it has the features the team needs (large locker rooms, the latest in broadcast infrastructure, etc) and the fans want (plenty of concessions and bathrooms) it will be a success. For many reasons the aesthetics are much more important to a baseball park than a football stadium.

Also, I believe the brief mention of Santa Clara is no more than a reminder from the team to the city that they have other options. They're just sending a little message to get the approvals done. And speaking of approvals, why does the inclusion of housing make that much difference to the city? Adjusting the zoning doesn't have to be that hard and as far as infrastructure, they're already building (and have built) tons of housing out there, Are the 49ers talking about that much more housing? (That's an honest question, not a leading one.)

Marine Layer said...

I disagree about aesthetics. SF is a city built on image and aesthetics, so to build a blah stadium - the 'Stick not withstanding - would be unbecoming, especially for a city that wants to attract the Olympics at some point.

The housing part is key if the Niners really want to follow through on it. It's even more important than with a ballpark because the funding gap will be so enormous. It forces planners and city leaders to think holistically about the stadium concept. It can't just be about a site and they'll figure out the funding later.

That's especially important in Santa Clara, which though it has some land, has shown no interest in issuing bonds or raising taxes to get a large sports facility built. And if 4000 homes were built there, that would add 10000 residents who would significantly strain city services and Santa Clara Unified, which is already stretched thin to include parts of Sunnyvale and North San Jose in its area. Santa Clara is suing San Jose over SJ's North SJ development plans. SC has to be very careful about how they plan and develop.

peanut gallery said...

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that. For baseball, I agree with you. Because of the nature of the game, people in the stands and watching on TV have a lot of time to look around and take in the look of the place. Plus, the dimensions of a baseball diamond provide more opportunity for creativity and building interesting little neighborhoods. For football, it just isn't that important. The stadium is built around a big rectangle and fans are glued to the field, buying things or in the can. In fact, none of the recent football stadia hold a candle to the new baseball parks aesthetically, except maybe the Seahawks new digs.

Your comments about SF and image could also be said about Chicago and look at their "new" stadium. It has been universally panned. But it doesn't matter. People still fill it Sunday after Sunday and that's all that matters to the NFL. Especially if more and more of those filling the stands are in the more expensive seats. Note that the design calls for the vast majority of seats to be in the lower bowl (ie: mostly club) and a huge tower of luxury boxes (ie: big $$$). If they put a sufficient facade on the thing, it will be fine.

Regarding housing, I was referring to Candlestick Point. The articles I've read all infer that rezoning will require a new vote and that will open up a big debate because it will require new infrastructure to support the housing. My question is why does that have to be such a big deal? If they were adding housing to an area that never had it before, I get it. But there is already mucho housing on and around the Point. Is it simply the scale the team has in mind? If so, they haven't provided any info at all about that, so how can this already be an issue in the media? I know you would have already thought through how much housing would be required to meet a certain level of funding. I don't give that same credit to those writing these articles nor the city government types they are talking to.

Marine Layer said...

The Soldier Field redux has been panned because from the outside it looks like a spaceship landed on top of the preserved colonnades. From the inside it's gotten good reviews. That's a completely different sentiment from planting a brand new architectural landmark in a place where one doesn't currently exist.

Seahawks Stadium is brilliant. So is Paul Brown Stadium in Cincy. In fact, there were more than a few complaints in Cincy about PBS being too modern. Wonder if they'll swap with the team that beat them in their only SB appearances?

Re: the housing - it's one thing for a developer to get permitted for a couple hundred SFR's on a few acres. We're talking about something on a much larger scale. Infrastructure to support housing at Hunters Point/Candlestick Point does not exist. Soil has to be cleaned up. Someone will have to foot the bill for it. If it's the developer, it usually means that cost is discounted off the land price. After Mission Bay, this is the only large area that can be developed, and the land could possibly be had at a decent price (below market value). All of those factors could make the difference between the project being or not being feasible.

peanut gallery said...

Ah, so they're looking at doing the housing at Hunters Point. I was envisioning it right around the stadium (ie: Candlestick Point). That makes sense. There's nothing but old military development there. And like you said, it's contaminated as well.

Anonymous said...

plumbing, access roads, streets, etc all factor in.

that said, much of the southeast part of town is severely neglected in terms of city services and infrastructure.

if a football stadium and a yuppie enclave are what it takes to get some attention to that part of town, bring it on.