25 January 2006

Stadia news from elsewhere

There are other sites that chronicle the daily happenings in the stadia world, but to put the A's situation in perspective, here's a short recap of what other teams and cities are doing.
  • DC - The lease deal should have been done months ago, but MLB decided to get greedy and not announce the winning ownership group until after the lease agreement was completed. Meanwhile, cost estimates continued to escalate dangerously close to the approved limit even though major features were being stripped away. Stuck at an impasse, MLB decided to go through arbitration. A mediator was brought in and got MLB and the District on the same pages on many issues. Among the issues that remain: who pays for cost overruns. A new lease is due this Friday, after which the District council will deliberate and vote on it. The District is also asking for permission to exercise its eminent domain powers and push out current landowners on the ballpark site by February 7.
  • Florida - The David Samson Nationwide Tour continues. The Marlins president has already visited San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Portland, while keeping options open in Miami-Dade county. Hialeah has jumped into the fray with site candidates, including the now closed Hialeah Race Track. Hialeah is intriguing because it compares in size and stature/recognition with our own Fremont. Both cities would pursue their respective local teams to get on the map. After meeting with Hialeah, Charlotte is next.
  • St. Louis - The new Busch Stadium is scheduled to open April 10. Though no updates have been posted to the Cards' website in several months, the ballpark should be largely complete, with testing of things like plumbing (the "flush every toilet at the same time" test) and electrical (scoreboards) needed before the place opens up. Busch will not have trouble selling out any seats or any of its 60 luxury suites or 45 (!) party suites. The latter number has to be a record of sorts, and St. Louis native Lew Wolff and his committee almost certainly cribbed some ideas when they visited Busch last year. Based on the drawings that 360 architecture made for Wolff's August presentation, the party suite concept is merely one resplendent course of a lavish meal, with condos or a hotel being the dessert. My major critique from looking at the renderings - those upper (fourth) deck seats are both quite high and far away from the action. To be fair, it appears that HOK followed a new design convention by splitting a large upper deck into two smaller decks to accommodate more ADA/wheelchair spaces. Still, the place looks utterly enormous.
  • NY Yankees - The pinstripers continue to clash with neighborhood activists crying foul over the temporary and permanent loss of parkland at the site where the new, $800 million Yankee Stadium is to be built. The Yanks claim that the net result will be a gain in parkland in the area, but at least one park facility will be on top of a multilevel parking garage. Unfortunately for the community activists, they appear to be fighting an uphill battle, since the Yanks have all necessary political power behind the stadium effort, and even noted baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist has come out in favor of the new stadium.
  • NY Mets - That other New York team's plans have been overshadowed by the hullabaloo surrounding the Yankees. The Mets' new digs will cost around $444 million, and since there's a large parking lot surrounding Shea Stadium instead of existing parkland or residential/commercial buildings, the ballpark will cost far less to construct since it will be located right next to Shea.
  • Kansas City - The Royals, Chiefs, and Jackson County (MO) have announced a plan for renovations to Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium. Still refreshingly modern even after three decades, both stadia will get a single gigantic rolling roof which could cover either facility in the event of inclement weather. The roof structure resembles an oversized bus stop shelter or airplane hangar (thank goodness we live in California). Wider concourses and updated clubs/restaurants will be part of the package. Funding comes from two separate taxes that face an April referendum. Should the plan go forward after voter approval, Kansas City will be awarded a Super Bowl to occur sometime between 2012 and 2021.
  • San Diego - Little tweaks to Petco Park are due this season. Chief among them is the right-centerfield fence (a.k.a. "Death Valley"), which will be brought in 11 feet (to 400')and hopefully prevent Ryan Klesko from having early season nervous breakdowns.
  • Philadelphia - Homer-happy Citizens Bank Park is having its leftfield fences moved back a few feet with the wall extended to 10'6" high in hopes of cutting down on home runs.
  • Chicago Cubs - Expansion of the venerable bleacher section (1,702 seats) should be completed before the season starts. The most important feature is the fact that bleacher fans will be allowed to venture into the rest of the stadium, though fans in the grandstand won't be able to enter the bleacher sections.
  • Boston - The .406 Club at Fenway will finally have its hideous Plexiglas windows removed for the 2006 season, so that all of the wealthy people who can afford Red Sox tickets will have the pleasure of an open air game in Fenway. Roughly 1,100 seats will be added in all.
  • Tampa Bay - The D-Rays are spending $10 million on mostly cosmetic changes, such as cleaning and repainting of walls and seats. They're trying to do the seemingly impossible task of capturing an outdoor game feel in a dome.
Some changes are major, others incremental. Expect this cycle to continue as stadium operators continue to work to differentiate their game experience from other sports and entertainment.