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April 06, 2006

Mets' stadium plans: Behind the pretty pictures

With no city council land-use vote needed for their new stadium - the mayor decided he could just skip that step - the New York Mets spent today unveiling computer renderings of their planned new stadium, which look pretty much like every other new baseball stadium built in the last 15 years. (Pictures here, courtesy of Maury Brown.) Skipping past the stenography journalism being practiced by the regular sports media (sample text from Newsday: "the Mets said the new design would create 'unprecedented' sight lines and allow for more legroom and wider seats"), here are a few elements that immediately jump out, particularly from the cross-section view provided:

  • The new stadium, with about 12,000 fewer seats than Shea Stadium, would not actually be the same height as Shea, as threatened in earlier documents - the top row of seats would be about the same height as the middle of the current upper deck. However, it also wouldn't have an upper deck "lower in elevation than the third seating level known as the Mezzanine Level at Shea Stadium," as state documents had also stated, let alone Mets owner Fred Wilpon's claim that "you'll have fans in the new stadium sitting in the upper deck thinking they're in the loge now, but paying upper deck prices" - the front row of the new upper deck would be just about where it is now.
  • HOK shows the new seating as being closer to the field horizontally than at Shea; however, it accomplishes this by using a cross-section taken of the seating down the first- or third-base lines. Because Shea is a perfectly circular stadium, the seats down the lines are the ones farthest from the baseball field - a cross-section taken behind home plate would leave the new design looking much worse.
  • Newsday cites the Mets as touting "the new ballpark's seats angled toward the infield" as a major asset. At circular Shea Stadium, every seat (except for those in the field level) faces directly towards second base.

In all, the new Mets plan looks like a standard modern stadium design: a few gratuitous quirks, lots of premium seating and concessions areas to pump up team revenues, and some nod to nostalgia in the form of an Ebbets-Field-inspired facade (and sections with names like "Coogan's Landing"). If there would be fewer bad seats than at Shea, that's mostly a function of there being fewer seats overall, with a capacity of just 45,000 vs. 57,000 for the Mets' current home.

Or, as Newsday put it, "The Mets' new stadium will feature enhanced fan conveniences, more efficient parking, improved sight lines and a facade reminiscent of Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field." Hey, who am I to argue with a press release?


Aside from the rotunda, this stadium looks exactly like every other new baseball stadium built in recent years. Ho hum, nothing special. I wonder if the Mets have designed the stadium to hold other events like SBC/At&T stadium in San Fran has like soccer. In a city of 12 million people, for some reason it strikes me as odd as to why why a 10, 000 seat decrease for the new stadium. However, we all know why unfortunately.......

Posted by Bertell Ollman on April 7, 2006 01:08 PM

How much are we on the hook for this white elephant? The stenographers--I'm going to start using that one--say the Muts are paying for it themselves.

Posted by MIB on April 7, 2006 01:17 PM

$200m city, $92m state, $86m federal:

Posted by Neil on April 7, 2006 03:11 PM

The Mets are actually paying for this - or at least the bulk. They are shelling out $550 million to start. The city and state combined are not exceding $165 million.

Posted by Gaby on April 10, 2006 02:54 PM

I'll stand by my figures, thanks.

In any case, the Mets are not "shelling out $550 million to start." The city will be selling $623 million worth of bonds to pay for the stadium, and the Mets will make the payments on those bonds, with the help of a lot of tax breaks. The link I posted just above gives the breakdown of all the Mets' costs, which end up totaling about $337 million.

Posted by Neil on April 10, 2006 08:47 PM

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