The Oakland Athletics have been trying to get a new ballpark for years and years and, finally, seem on the verge of getting one. All signs point to that park either being on the current site of the Oakland Coliseum or at Howard Terminal, on the Oakland waterfront. The team prefers the latter and, if I had to guess, they’ll end up getting that, sooner or later.
Given that the site isn’t even finalized yet, there hasn’t been talk of the park’s design. Oh, sure, we can guess what it might look like. For 25 years almost every new park has looked more or less the same. Retro-classic with lots of bricks and stuff, the charm of which somewhat masking the fact that they’re basically dozens and dozens of luxury boxes and a lot of expensive lower bowl seats designed more for extracting fan cash than for providing a great place to see a game. At least for those who can’t afford the boxes and the lower bowl seating, putting them farther away from the action than any fans had ever been back in the days of actually old ballparks and cookie cutter multi-use stadiums. We’ve talked about this before.
Against that backdrop, there is a fantastic story over at UniWatch today, in which Mark Anderson lays out the design for a new A’s ballpark he, Kolin Schmidt and Matt Bond came up with that is aimed at addressing the specific flaws of today’s newer parks. It’s must-read stuff with great renderings, all with a new vision of what a ballpark can be. The best part: Anderson and Schmidt got the chance to personally deliver their design to A’s president Dave Kaval as they took in a recent game in Oakland.
The upshot: an upper deck which hangs much closer to the field, a la Tiger Stadium and Comiskey Park, putting fans much closer to the action. Due to modern cantilevering and the reduction in lower deck depth, however, it eliminates the problem of view-obstructing pillars and overhangs which plagued the lower decks in those old parks. The park would seat far fewer people, but charging fewer people a higher rate is already happening in parks with crappy seats, so it’s not like it would be game-changing. If you’re already paying a week’s salary to take your family to the ballgame, at least in designs like this one you’d all get good views.
The piece references another theoretical ballpark: Armour Field, which was designed for the Chicago White Sox in the 1980s but which, of course, was never built. Back in April Dayn Perry of CBS wrote a fantastic, in-depth story about that imaginary park’s design, which inspired much of Anderson’s, Schmidt’s and Bond’s plans here. If the A’s aren’t going to go with what Anderson, Schmidt and Bond came up with they should just take the Armour Field plans and build it as-is.
Anyway: great post for ballpark geeks. Take some time to read it today.