Sports Illustrated and ballpark architect Populous have combined to do something fun: imagine what a ballpark might look like in the year 2030. Go check it out here. There are artist’s renderings and explanations of all of the unique flourishes and how the concepts of ballpark design will evolve over the next 15-20 years. It’s kinda cool. It’s even got monorails and stuff, and nothing says the future like a monorail.
Of course, like almost all speculative stuff like this, it’s rather utopian and thus extremely unlikely to come to fruition. Often times we don’t realize how futurist stuff like this is unrealistic until many years have passed (people really did think there would be moon colonies by the year 2000 at one point). But sometimes you can see the flaws right out of the gate. This one is in the latter camp.
The biggest thing I see is the unworkability of the “sink into the city” design Populous has come up with here. Part of the explanation:
In this case, the building itself is defined by the edges of the city, acting as a window into the building on game days. There’s no need for fanciful facades, as the stadium instead flows with the park and city. You’ll still find a traditional seating bowl tucked below premium glass-enclosed spaces, but with the future of team revenue not as reliant on gate receipts, designers can offer new types of space. A city park overlooks rightfield . . . and an enlarged berm beyond leftfield gives the stadium community-inspired life and public accessibility 365 days a year.
Tell me one time in the history of baseball when team owners were willing to forego a buck in the interests of public accessibility. Maybe gate receipts will continue to diminish in importance, but in a world where baseball owners (a) demand someone else pay for their parks; (b) nonetheless take all revenues from said park; and (c) still gouge the living hell out of fans because, well, they can, I am not too optimistic that people will be gayly frolicking in a public park beyond the right field wall. Heck, even on non game days I’m sure the public will find limited at best access to this wonderfully integrated-into-the-city park.
I do, on the other hand, love what they have to say about integrated data in the park. The technology stuff is where I imagine ballparks will change the most over the next few decades, with the superstructure, facades and access changing far less than is imagined here.
Anyway: fun stuff. If you can’t get excited by this kind of thing you and I don’t have much to talk about.