Apparently the Atlanta Falcons‘ new stadium is going to feature action-movie music, video boards on every available surface, dozens of places to order expensive food, and no one on the field actually playing football. This is truly the NFL’s dream future.
Renderings! The people have spoken, and the Golden State Warriors have listened, redesigning their planned San Francisco arena to look less like a toilet seat:
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross say it now looks more like a Sony Discman, which is both true and also a more pleasant image for your $1 billion arena. (It’s about time for portable CD players to be retro now, right?)
The whole thing doesn’t look too bad, though unless I’m mistaken it includes a whole bunch of mid-sized buildings that don’t actually exist now, in order to make the arena look less hulking by comparison. And, as always, don’t expect that any of it will actually look like this when it’s built, assuming it gets built — though I think we can safely predict that whatever it ends up looking like, it will definitively not be a toilet seat.
Renderings! The Atlanta Braves have ‘em, showing what the new pretend urban neighborhood around their new Cobb County stadium will look like when complete! Look, here’s one now:
- There will be a mix of modern buildings and retroish buildings, because that’s what people want in their fake urban neighborhoods.
- The surrounding development will include some small parking lots, with nobody much parking in them, despite a game going on at the time.
- Some cars are clearly visible on the roads while others are just a blur of head- and taillights, presumably because the architects are those aliens who slipped something in Kirk’s coffee to accelerate him to multiple times normal human speed.
- The near future will include a really awful Jack & Jones ad campaign.
- Enough lens flare to kill J.J. Abrams.
Really, though, none of this matters, because these are just sketches meant as a sales pitch for businesses to locate in the project (or as the Atlanta Journal Constitution paraphrased Braves VP Derek Schiller’s explanation, “the concept of project’s look, not the final design”). The eventual development could look like this, or it could look like something else, or it could never get built. It’s important to remember that you’re looking at an ad here, even if it’s a slightly more attractive one than that fake Jack & Jones thing.
Populous, the stadium-architecture company that changed its name from HOK because it wasn’t pretentious enough, has seen the future of baseball stadiums, and dear lord:
Seats made of dirt and grass! Windows you can’t see through because there are images projected on them! Some kind of neon pneumatic-tube monorail thing to whip people past the stadium at high speeds! And, for good measure, a square home plate and bases that are several feet off the foul line, because baseball’s rules are just stuck in the past, man.
SI.com is predictably breathless about all this CGI futurism, since they’re the ones who asked for it, and it would presumably be churlish to say, “We asked Populous what stadiums will look like in 16 years, and they used that as an excuse to just go take a lot of drugs and play with Photoshop.” But it had to be hard with quotes like this one:
“Technology is keeping people in their homes,” [designer Greg] Sherlock said. “We reversed that notion, and in this urban context, this park-like setting is the community living room where you go to get super technology at your fingertips.”
Whoa, it’s like, it’s like. Whoa.
AEG’s Los Angeles football stadium plans may have been going nowhere fast even before owner Philip Anschutz put the company up for sale and then took it back off the market but booted stadium czar Tim Leiweke, who ended up running the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ parent company, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving up on building a new stadium for no NFL team in in particular:
Even though the NFL appears to have little interest in coming to Los Angeles, AEG’s plans for a stadium are still in play, said Ted Tanner, the company’s vice president.
Addressing a Los Angeles Convention Center panel last week, Tanner presented updated renderings for Farmers Field, the proposed 78,000-seat downtown stadium, to a group of commissioners and officials.
I guess anything is possible, but given that lately more talk has focused on other sites in L.A., this seems more like a pro forma effort to keep AEG’s stadium plans alive on the back burner, at least. But why the announcement now?
The City Council in 2012 approved the stadium deal, but the AEG rights expire in October. Asked if AEG would seek to extend the contract, Tanner said it was too early to say, though others with the company say it is likely it will seek additional time.
Yeah, that’ll do it. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Keeping Our Development Options Open Field!
The “final” renderings of the new Sacramento Kings arena are out, and they look to involve lots of aluminum mesh, an interior designed as a backdrop for a black-and-white minimalist comic (Adrian Tomine, maybe? Hey, he’s from Sacramento!), and hip young white people staring blankly into the sky. (What’s with the guy in the porkpie hat whose arm is permanently attached to his girlfriend?) Commenter MikeM has already dubbed it the Jiffy Pop Arena; other suggested nicknames, disparaging or otherwise, are welcome.
As far as the actual effect on seeing a basketball game goes, it’s tough to tell much from these, except that it follows the typical modern wall-of-luxury-seats-and-screw-those-people-in-the-upper-deck model that I’ve complained about at the Brooklyn Nets‘ Barclays Center. Though if everyone’s more interested in the sky, it doesn’t matter if they can see the game, right?
In other sports venue design news, the Atlanta Braves have announced that they’ve hired Populous (formerly HOK) to design their new building in Cobb County, which isn’t really news given that just about everybody hires Populous to design their baseball stadiums. Still no word on when they might finalize their long-awaited stadium operating agreement, meanwhile (which will go a long way toward detailing the level of public subsidies the stadium would require), or what’s up with their possible demand for state tax breaks, or the lawsuit against the property-tax extension to pay for the place, or the charges that Cobb County violated open meetings laws in approving the project. Just lookit the pretty pictures — okay, there aren’t any pictures yet, so everyone just imagine your own versions in your mind. It’s crowdrendering!
The New York Jets Manhattan stadium plan may be long dead, but its legacy lives on in the form of “Hudson Yards,” the mixed-use development project that was supposed to surround it on Manhattan’s West Side. Back in 2005, you will recall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg succeeded in convincing the city council that key to getting tens of thousands people to shlep several blocks west of Midtown to see football, the Olympics, or whatever, was to build an extension of the #7 subway line west of Times Square. This would cost $2 billion (if you think that’s a lot, don’t get me started on the 1,500-foot tunnel in Queens that cost $645 million), but never worry, as it would all be paid off by increased property tax payments by new development on the site — that’s right, a TIF.
Except that the development still hasn’t happened, which as Juan Gonzalez reports in today’s Daily News has resulted in the inevitable consequences:
The Bloomberg administration paid $234 million during fiscal year 2012 to a city-created development group that oversees the huge new commercial and residential complex, one of the mayor’s most ambitious projects.
City Hall quietly earmarked most of that money — $155 million — to the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corp. in late June, because the group has not been generating enough revenue to pay the annual interest due on $3 billion in bonds it issued.
Some stories I really have nothing to add to:
The Buffalo Bills stadium battle has been simmering for a while, but now it finally has what it’s been missing: a grandiose, hugely expensive plan for a new stadium with a retractable roof. According to the Buffalo News, a company called Greater Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Complex — which formed early this year and is based in Delaware, giving new meaning to “greater Buffalo” — will today present the city Common Council with a plan for a $1.4 billion development project that would include a 72,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium, on land owned by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
Obviously, $1.4 billion is quite a bit more than the $200 million that the Bills were talking about for a renovation of Rich Stadium, so where would the money come from? According the the News, GBS&EC vice president George Hasiotis helpfully explained that while
it was premature to talk about financing a stadium but that based on other stadium projects across the country, it was reasonable to expect the State of New York to pay about $400 million, the NFL $200 million to $400 million. Such a project would bring in hundreds of millions for the construction trades, since 10,000 such jobs were expected to be generated, he said.
Well, yes, if you spend $1.4 billion on construction, it’d be hard not to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the construction industry. Ah, the wonders of “economic activity.”
In any event, those “reasonable” figures are likely to raise some eyebrows both in Albany and at NFL headquarters: $400 million is more than the state has kicked in for another other recent stadium project, and the NFL’s G-4 stadium fund caps out at $200 million per team. Plus, the project would apparently require an “option” on 167 acres of harborfront property owned by the state-run Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which it’s not clear whether GBS&EC would pay for.
Still, if nothing else, Buffalo now has a stalking horse notable enough to make the newspaper, which if nothing should be enough to make $200 million for renovations look cheap by comparison. As I’ve noted many times before, half the battle for teams seeking stadiums is shifting the debate from whether to build something to how and where to build something, and by that measure, even overpriced vaportecture is an important first step.
No, wait, maybe this is the most jaw-dropping story of the day:
In an interview with Comcast Sports Net, [former Chicago mayor Richard] Daley said the city should build a new stadium and add a second NFL team to the market.
“I really believe we could get a second football team,” the former mayor said. “I’ve always believed — the Chicago Cardinals, Bears — why is it that New York has two? Florida has three, San Francisco has two. Now you think of that, we could easily take — Chicago loves sports and we could get a second team in here.
Because if the NFL has waited two decades to put a team in L.A., surely it’ll rush to pay to build a stadium for a second team in a much smaller metro area, right? Also, the last NFL stadium in Chicago was such a rip-roaring success. And Florida isn’t a city, and San Francisco … you know, this is more than an offhand radio remark by a guy who isn’t even in charge of anything anymore really deserves, so I think I’ll leave it at that.