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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?