May 3, 2006

smart park, stupid name

San Diego has one of the typical new ballparks that have replaced most old baseball stadiums around the country. As much as I hate to admit it (being a Dodgers fan - though its not really like San Diego is a rival of ours), its a nice ballpark. Unfortunately they destroyed a healthy part of historic downtown in building it, despite alternate plans that were available. Nevertheless, one of my favorite things about it is that they resisted the urge build the typical brick warehouse-style downtown ballpark.

The ballpark-replacing-stadiums trend arguably began after the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the Baltimore Harbor. Its a beautiful park that was built to fit in the middle of the old harbor warehouse neighborhood as if it had been there since the early 1900's. It works. After that, almost every city and team owner wanted one of their own. I lived in Dallas for the opening of the Ballpark at Arlington, where I spent a lot of time during my years there. It too is a great park to see a game in, but its stupid. They took a huge plot in the middle of suburban wasteland and built a brick warehouse style park in the middle of...well, nothing. No warehouses or city or buildings around it to give it context to make sense. Not to mention, if the park had been built there in the early 1900's, its doubtful that it would have been brick east-coast style warehouse. It is next to Six Flags, so maybe it was just intended to be another fantasyland style attraction.

San Diego's Petco Park (try not to laugh when you say it - don't get me started on corporate naming of stadiums) incorporates warehouses and brick into the stadium, but maintains its own crisp clean and open feeling with concrete and stone, modern lines and good typography. It suits its place near the harbor and has its own identity. It blends well, respecting its context, but not recreating it.

1 comment:

Tim said...

...and now that we finally have an owner for the Nats, let's see if they screw up what I think is pretty cool ballpark design incorporating Washington DC elements by giving it a stupid corporate name. It better not become Department of Homeland Security Field or worse yet, Reagan Park.

Off to see the Nats tonight and then San Diego on Saturday morning. Hope the Padres have a home game while I'm there next week.