Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ballpark of the Future

(image is rendering of new Braves Stadium, courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press wrote a provocative article about a month ago on the future of the modern ballpark.  In it, he argues that with the rapid changes in technology and the need to cater more to the millennial crowd - something seen in just about every business - baseball will be coming a more and more digital, personal, and interactive experience.  I won't regurgitate the entire article - you can read it yourself here - but I just thought it was something interesting that readers of this blog might find interesting as well. 

The fact is, almost every single ballpark in the major leagues now has been built in the last 20 years, and for the most part have followed the same basic template - retro style, urban/walkable neighborhood, intimate, focus on fan experiential qualities.  In about 10 years we're going to start talking about replacing or majorly upgrading all of these facilities in the same cycle.  Maybe this starts with the new Braves Stadium opening in 2017, I don't know...but there will need to be a serious dialogue about what the "ballpark of the future" will look like, and this article I think is a good indicator of the challenges that will be faced.  I think you will start to see parks that are readily adaptable and perhaps even a new exploration of the multi-purpose facility, something that could anchor and serve a city for years to come.  With the amount of public money that is bonded and taxed for new ballparks, and with how fast they become obsolete, I believe it will only be a matter of time before an inventive new solution for a shared stadium comes back to the front burner.  Seligman argues for a stadium that is adaptable for 300+ day a year use with interchangeable displays, facades, and graphics with a complex digital interface.  That to me is a fancy way of saying multi-use stadium, whether that means multiple sports or just multiple civic uses, or both.  With how social and interactive baseball is, it seems like the first of the major sports that can take on this concept of the modern stadium, and as both a fan and as an architect, I am excited to see what the future holds.  I am absolutely positive that Miller Park will need to be replaced at some point in my lifetime, and I hope by then we have a better understanding of what a 21st century sports venue should be, and how it should serve the fans and citizens of a city.

Brewers 16-30, -13.5 (3 v. Giants, 3 v. Diamondbacks)
Reds 18-26, -10.5 (3 v. Rockies, 3 v. Nationals
Twins 26-18, -2.0 (3 v. Red Sox, 3 v. Blue Jays)

Erik - 11 (+6 worked)

Peter - 13

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