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An Early Look At Vegas' New Ballpark: Design Considerations, Part I

The Las Vegas Athletics appear to officially be a thing; hopefully not carrying that mouthful of a moniker in the moving vans from Oakland. 

With a new land deal inked, we can infer the long-speculated relocation will indeed happen. The Vegas A's (that's better) will likely play their first MLB season in 2025, but it'll likely take two additional years before their brand new home is complete. Until then, they will be vagabonds up there with the 2005-06 New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. For starters, they have a super awkward bed to sleep in next season. They'll have to see out the lease of RingCentral (Oakland-Alameda County) Coliseum in front of a betrayed fan base. Sounds like going on a non-refundable vacation with an ex the week after the breakup. 

My hope is both sides agree to terminate that final year and avoid the confrontation. It won't be the celebratory send off ("Thanks for the Championship memories") anyone in the front office currently expects it to be. Not that they do; attendance figures and on-field performance are currently both on pace for historically-low values. Fans are protesting with their wallets, and the team appears to be purposely assembling a roster no one in the Bay will miss. It's ugly on both sides. Thus, any plans for a nostalgic Farewell Tour will likely play out as a sparsely-watched, 100-loss sour note. Might as well get out of there before more damage to the brand is done.   

Whether that is next May or the following, there is going to be a need for a multiyear bridge. These interim seasons could be played at Las Vegas Ballpark — ironic home of Oakland's Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators. The stadium is gorgeous and new, but it's also in the suburb of Summerlin and only seats 10,000 people. Not exactly the inaugural buzz one would hope to generate. It also doesn't have near the amenities Big Leaguers expect when visiting town. To go full Arizona Coyotes mode (currently playing in a college rink) is a bold strategy. It's also like living in your parents' basement; it has some money-saving front end pros, but stretching it out for three loooonnnnnng years might drive someone past their limits. 

The A's can't really go to any other Major League city and split residency (Jets/Giants), in my opinion. At least with those two it was understood going in, and it's a measly eight or nine home games. This is 81. And it's potentially three full years. That's too long to crash on somebody's couch, bruh. BC Place in Vancouver? Fun for Seattle trips. Weird international logistics. Their Spring Training facility — 10,500-seat Hohokom Stadium — in Mesa, Arizona? Possibly. It is what the Blue Jays did in Dunedin, Florida during that abbreviated Covid season. But that wouldn't move the needle on capacity or getting Summer games out of the excruciating heat.    

My bold plan would be to send them up to Portland for the duration. I want Portland as an expansion team and I think that would be the perfect way to beta test the market, while keeping the club geographically in the AL West. The question is: Could you put a ballfield back into Providence Park — already retrofit once, from baseball-specific to soccer-specific? That's a real Michael Scott "Snip snap, snip snap, snip snap" situation there.

Despite all that, it is never too early to throw a design for the future ballpark out into the public sphere. There's plenty to go off already: We know the size, boundaries, and price tag of the lot in question. We know that the team desires a 30,000-35,000 seat stadium and we know that'll cost about $1.5 billion. Of that hefty financial commitment, owner John Fisher is asking the city to pony up $500 million. Lastly, we know the club fancies a retractable roof. And that is where I really begin to question the aesthetic 
— before there even is one.  

You’ll never find a bigger Jewel Box Romanticist than me, but this thing better not be Shibe Park 2.0. There’s enough kitsch on display in that town. Pocketed with T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium, this thing better be slick and 21st century through and through. I choke down a little vomit designing something that looks like this, but this stands as proof I don't force my preferred style on everyone. It wouldn't be right for my team in my town, but this is exactly what Vegas needs. And if the critical success of Globe Life Field in Arlington has taught us nothing, it is that you can design an awful exterior — like an Amazon warehouse, a mid-tier mortgage company's HQ, and a toaster had a 24 million-pound baby  and make up for it with exquisite attention to interior detail. 

Wild times in sports architecture. Not to sound like an 85 year-old shaking his fist at the clouds, but I personally can't stand it. 1992-2006 was the heyday. Yet here I am, throwing my modern minimalist hat in the ring. Eh, I don't have to like it to know that it's right for this circumstance. Shows I'm flexible, adaptable, and tailor space for each client; Vegas ain't getting my retro-classic, brick-clad design for the Richmond Flying Squirrels nor my steel clam shell for the Chiba Lotte Marines. They have a pyramid. Their sphere is nearing completion. In my opinion, now they need to complete the set with a cube.

One thing is undeniable: Based on where Fisher & Co. has secured land, the sight lines of The Strip are going to architecturally make or break the success of this facility. 

When we talk about orientation of a ballfield, we essentially mean the catcher and plate umpire's point-of-view. An imaginary line runs from the tip of home plate straight out toward centerfield, through second base. Not widely known, Major League Baseball's Rule 1.04 suggest northeast is best. This is due to the counterclockwise nature in which the bases are run, paired with the position of the evening sun in our Northern Hemisphere sky. 

Designers, such as myself, aim to protect as many players from receiving throws or catching batted balls that could align with sunset. A northeast-facing alignment offers up the least amount of affected people. It truly is ol' reliable. 

Now, stadiums with roofs (shown in the diagram in red) have a ton more leeway with this. The sun can easily be shielded by the very infrastructure that keeps the indoor temperatures controlled. No eye black or sunglasses necessary in a dome. Additionally, the entire "rule" is nothing more than a centuries-old preference. 

By going indoors, Vegas will have its pick of any quadrant on the compass. But I'm here to lay out all the reasons why it should stick with the herd and select northeast just the same. 

For starters, you'll never be able to be taken seriously as a legitimate American League contender if you have the New York City skyline in every fans' face — even if it is some chintzy, smushed-together impostor. In my opinion, that rules out any stadium that faces directly east. 

Early findings show that the best view corridor runs parallel to the little bend in Dean Martin Boulevard. They'd be fools to try to find better anywhere else in town. Trust me, I've looked at every viable lot from every possible angle.

I was recently in Las Vegas, with a list of the top three land candidates in mind; casing the place for the best view corridors. I ranked them as follows:

#1 - Site of the Rio (looking southeast)

#2 - Fairgrounds Site (looking northeast)

#3 - Site of the Tropicana (looking northwest)

My hierarchy was solely based off the best view of the city. Seeing the High Roller Wheel broadside is a nice angle. I fear The Strat is too tall from the proximity of the fairgrounds (more on that later). The last one is comically bad — with its Statue of Liberty in left center and seizure-inducing lights from the MGM sign in a batter's eye. It's not the most flattering look for The Strip. And the playing field would sit less than 3,000 feet from Harry Reid International Airport's highly-active runway 19R; screeching tires of a 737 full of tourists every six minutes.

And then... and then... the A's completely went off-book. It's impressive that ownership was able to keep so many of us internet sleuths off the scent. I was not prepared to analyze the lot that appeared in every headline last week. The curveball forced me to pivot quickly; adjust the detailed 3D models to the unexpected. 

Should the Vegas Swingin' A's agree with my desired orientation (of this new dark horse location), they'll be no waiting for an impeccable shot of The Strip to fill in over time. A top five Major League backdrop comes stock with these 49 acres. Unlike Las Vegas Boulevard's neon underbelly, this "outsider" P.O.V. features a more elegant side of The Strip. Even the west side of T-Mobile Arena — just off screen — adds to a curvilinear windswept aesthetic.

That Tropicana site, in particular, is a hodgepodge mess of eras, colors, sizes, and styles. Dean Martin Boulevard provides a beautifully-proportioned composition and consistent blue glass/bronze metal/sand stone palette. The A's organization has it up on tee; a chance to make the ballpark feel deeply rooted/established/organically-grown amongst its desert surroundings on Day 1. Don't miss.


Let's Talk About This Roof

We can crack the windows in our car, but we don’t have a comparable roof setup on a ballpark… yet. Let's create the sport's first 65/35 fixed/retractable hybrid dome. If executed properly, it would condition the space where 80%+ of the fans will be.  

Unlike the basis behind a retractable roof in Toronto, Milwaukee, and Seattle, Vegas is not going to have to prevent snow, rain, and the cold from postponing a quarter of their home schedule. You'll notice those are the three lowest roof usage percentages in the league; combined to play 66.3% of their home games under sunny skies in 2022. Crazy concept: They want to play baseball outside. Their locations simply require a hedging of that bet. Constructing a roof was merely the gameday insurance policy; a metal umbrella exception to the rule... err, public desire. 

The other stadiums are clearly calling upon their roofs differently — as a way to condition space into something comfortable for fans. This is the dome rationale in Tampa Bay, Miami, Arizona, Texas, and Houston, where it is as hot as hell. In those cases, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze (great pun with Tropicana and Minute Maid in the group). 

The question in Vegas is “Why and when would you ever need it to open? Isn’t a permanent roof the way to go?” After all, we're talking about a place that erected a quarter-mile-long shade structure over Fremont Street to make downtown tourism bearable.

MLB Roof Usage Rates (2022 Data):

Tampa Bay - 100.0%
Miami - 96.3%
Houston - 91.4%
Texas - 80.2%
Arizona - 72.8%
Milwaukee - 44.4%
Toronto - 34.6%
Seattle - 22.2%

It's hard to envision that Vegas wouldn't slot into the rankings on roof usage (above) any lower than Arizona's 72.8%. So, what are we building a fully retractable roof for — Texas' whopping 16 home games under the stars? Miami's three?!  

The four high-temp and/or high-humidity locations of Miami, Houston, Texas, and Arizona (tossing out Tropicana Field for not being retractable) played only 48 games in "unconditioned air" last season. Spending top dollar on engineering for the 14.8% outlier seems to be a mistake. This is especially true when Texas, Miami, and Arizona now have synthetic turf for everything green — i.e. no need for the sunlight to promote grass growth. The latter two have converted from natural grass since their buildings originally opened; all but admitting regret for splurging on that retractability of the roof. 

I love baseball outside and I love it more on natural grass. But if you’re really going to host Major League Baseball in Las Vegas, Nevada, then you have to follow this modern formula: Plastic green carpet, DuraEdge infields and mounds, and a side of conditioned air. In that, we don’t need a roof to open… at least not all the way.

If you're no longer worried about shade/shadows being cast on your immaculate Bermudagrass, then the necessity of the entire span of the building goes away. The "why" in terms of going the route of retractable can become far more playful, experimental, artistic, and (most notably) spectator-centric. The intent behind planes moving out of the way would be to increase sight lines vs. create a full-field Open To Below. Thus, the static portion of the roof can hang far deeper into the playing surface than ever before. 

My inspiration was born out of two things — Fallingwater and Bravo's Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles. One near and dear to me (figuratively and literally); the other, a guilty pleasure with my wife. Frank Lloyd Wright’s telescoping glass box that covers the staircase down to the iconic water is my favorite element of the house. It’s a very nautical way to think about making horizontal and vertical elements “disappear.”

Our very first project in architecture school was to make a cube without making a cube. The lesson surrounding the assignment was of the human psychology variety. Our minds tend to complete geometric shapes and order even if pieces of the complete set are missing. We can read wrds evn whn a few letrs ar mising. There's an autocomplete feature embedded in all our brains. 

In that vein, architects have spent decades trying to deconstruct the modern box; tell the same story in fewer words than ever before. The words, in this metaphor, are expressions of support and surface. Can you create a volumetric form that holds space with a majority of it stripped away? Can you articulate that all eight sides of a cube are equal in size even though none of the interior elements are? Like a figure-ground exercise, the mind can spin the voids into solids and complete the shape. 

I had the following vision of this stadium pop into a dream the night after the Athletics' signed their binding land agreement. What you'll see is a very crude initial SketchUp take on that dream. The disappearing corner trick is no longer a corner. It’s a vertical back wall and horizontal roof connection. 

Something unique to sports architecture is a must for this particular clientele. For starters, the stadium will cost over a billion dollars. At that price point, the industry needs to move the needle forward on innovation. The second reason is because it's Vegas. This is an American institution in exporting "wow" factor. Lastly, and more pragmatically, the roof plane does need to slide to the southwest or else half the spectators will not get to view the full height of the skyline. 

By modeling a majority of The Strip in 3D, I can note that the bottom of the stadium’s roof would have to stand some 400’ feet above playing surface — and terminate immediately at the deepest home run dimension  to not have the top floors of the hotels blocked off. Mind you, this would mean little to no outfield seating (picture Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City). It would also make the roof the tallest in professional sports. And even then, this would only create unobstructed sight lines for those in the lower seating bowl behind home plate.  

If the venue possessed a retractable roof that mirrored the total acreage of the playing surface below, an additional run of track — to house the roof when it’s open — would likely make the problem worse. This is the situation in Houston, Seattle, Miami, and Arlington; more than 4.5 acres of "in case of pristine weather" void space counting toward each stadium's overall lot size.  

In my design, there are 261,590 SF (6 acres) of static roof and "only" 145,464 SF (3.33 acres) that can open to the sky above. And, better yet, the discarded panels don't shift off the perimeter of the building itself, hanging as dead weight in no man's land. Vegas' would slide inward. 

Again, we're not trying to punch a "hole in the roof, so God can watch His favorite team play." -- Dallas Cowboys linebacker D.D. Lewis, regarding the design of Texas Stadium. This is a paradigm shift on those types of designs. Covering the opening is not about rainout prevention. We are catering to the audience's sight lines and not the players or blades of grass down below.  

On the flip side, if a dome was statically closed all the time (like at Tropicana Field), the neighboring towers could only be observed through some sort of glass curtain wall. This is a nice theory, but glare, high-contrast "wash out," or precipitation typically prevent the requisite transparency. 

Thus, Vegas needs to build a partially-fixed, smaller-than-full-footprint retractable roof. And it should stay open most home games; talking Seattle levels of roof usage (22%) or less. Should any of those 4.19 annual inches of Las Vegas rain show up, I say "Keep the roof open!" Drops wouldn't fall on any players in traditional defensive alignment, nor affect the key areas to keep dry (infield, mound, boxes). The skyline is too remarkable to miss out, and yet too close to prevent cropping issues. 

In essence, it's akin to those $30 million dollar glass box homes in the Bird Streets of West Hollywood  sliding walls and television screens that disappear into the floor with the push of a button. Present a consistent stage experience for your paying customer, first visit on through to their hundredth. Now we’re taking Las Vegas, baby!

The roof that is currently the highest above the playing surface is in Houston's Minute Maid Field. The bottom of their steel supports are 242' feet above the infield grass. This Vegas model surpasses that number by a few feet, just to have the record. #Pettiness and #Progress

The entire design is a 638'L x 638'W x 638'H cube. Now, that last measurement isn't accurate at all, but the mind will assume it is. By that I mean, the structure will only rise some 270 feet out of the Las Vegas ground. But because of the geometry of it, the trick of the mind is that there is an iceberg situation created; that the rest of the complete cube is down there somewhere. In reality, it is not. The field of play is 20 feet below grade, which is comfortably clustered with Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium (16 feet), Coors Field (21 feet), and Chase Field (25 feet). The new MLB outlier is Globe Life, with its 70(!) feet sunken in the Texas ground. Vegas doesn't need to go down that far to complete the box aesthetic. It is the first of many illusions in a town known for slight of hand.

As for the facility's footprint, this proposal would carry that same 638' x 638' (407,044 SF; 9.33 acre) square all the way up. No
 air rights will be necessary beyond the foundation of the stadium. For context, American Family Field in Milwaukee (with fan-shaped roof that is equally "self-contained") is 10.5 acres in size. Open-air Target Field in Minneapolis sits on the smallest plot of land in all of Major League Baseball — 8.5 acres.

What I've made is now not a stadium; it's a pavilion. The intention of the roof is to operate more like a Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Installed during a major renovation in 2015, the objective was to address spectator comfort and not on-field weather delays. We're providing a shelter to keep fans out of the sun, but we aim to let the breeze still blow in from the outside world. It's more about passive air cooling than busying up the space with jumbled ductwork. This isn't an arena meant for hockey (and its consistent ice temperatures to maintain).  

The internal track system for my roof pays homage to the X and Y shapes of so many iconic hotels in town. It's also a unique way for a stadium to shoulder the weight of a moveable roof. As panels shift to the center, and add load to the track system, the span between the two is narrowing. Envision the difference between lifting kettle bells with arms fully extended vs. closer to the ears.  

As for materiality, modern advancements are going to give this building a chance to really shine — figuratively and literally. I could see this whole thing glowing like the famous "Water Cube" (National Aquatics Centre) that stole the show at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The translucent façade is made of ethyl tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), which also shows up in the sports industry at U.S. Bank Stadium (Minnesota Vikings), SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles Rams and Chargers), and, of course, Allegiant Stadium (Vegas Raiders). It feels like a no brainer to stitch the two "West of I-15" facilities together thematically.  

In a town of glitz and glam, the A's are going to have to embrace that metallic Vegas gold. The green is already a perfect emulation of the felt on all those casino tables. That apostrophe on the hat is going to turn into a Golden Knights-esque star and/or silhouette of Nevada. Cue up the new trend of LED shows in between innings and during the A's home-run trots.   


How Important Is The Centerfield Skyline Shot?

Truist Field in Charlotte, NC (Triple-A Charlotte Knights) has twice won the honor of Minor League Ballpark of the Year in its brief nine years of existence. Out of 120+ options (depending on the year), that's really saying something. It's a nice-enough 10,000-seat stadium with a 360° concourse... like dozens upon dozens of others scattered throughout various levels of MiLB. There's a fun party pavilion in left. Okay, cool. It's not all that pretty of a building when viewed from the street. What am I missing? 

It's almost as if the fans are responding so positively to something correlative that isn't actually part of the stadium's construction. Hmm, what could that be?

In the second half of this piece, I rank all 30 MLB ballparks strictly on the basis of this exact vantage point. If they could somehow qualify in an All-Professional Baseball list, they would be number two (such a tease for the top spot). Truist Field is a masterclass in allowing the city itself to be the fourth wall; a backdrop that would make a Broadway set designer blush. As you'll find with the still images I've captured, more ballparks should have considered the impact such a skyline can have on fan approval.

There's a term in mountaineering called prominence. It's a topographical relation between the top of a mountain and its surroundings. When you're a summit that is an impressive 14,000 feet above sea level, but there's a range that stretches for miles of similar-sized apexes, you don't really stand out. Hence, Pikes Peak is the only mountain in Colorado inside the U.S. Top 100 Most Prominent, way down in 89th place.  

Conversely, Mt. Haleakala in Hawaii was so spiritual and awe-inspiring to visit on my honeymoon. This was mainly because of its isolated prominence, 10th largest in the United States. The shield volcano is the only thing on its contour line for thousands of feet, making it visible from any portion of Maui at all times. 

So, what does mountain prominence have to do with this discussion on ballpark sight lines? 

Well, prominence is nothing more than a combination of height and proximity to the source object that would make Pythagoras proud. In ballpark design, placing it too close to an extremely tall building can ruin the entire experience — a real "can't see the forest through the trees" scenario. 

It's what makes the design of PNC Park in Pittsburgh so effective. The scale of the entire backdrop is perfection due to a) the modest size of the towers, and b) the water that disconnects downstage from up. True, the decision to grid and arrange the city this way was done by Mother Nature and colonial city planners. But the decision to place the ballpark in this North Shore location and orientation was genius. The move even presents glimpses of the Three Sister bridges; the real cherries on top. 

The two tallest buildings in Pittsburgh are U.S. Steel Tower (840') and BNY Mellon Center (725'); set the furthest away from the ballpark. The next tier of skyscraper  One PPG Place (635'), Fifth Avenue Place (616'), Gulf Tower (582'), and K&L Gates Center (511') — stand much closer to the Allegheny River. From this perspective, all appear at roughly the same height in the sky. Dumb luck for the stadium's architects; not like they had any say on where the city's much-older buildings were placed, nor the height they were constructed. However, they seized an opportunity to make it all seem calculated. 

Much like driving anywhere on Maui, with its inability to lose sight of Haleakala, it's impossible to move about PNC Park and not see the UPMC on top of U.S. Steel, the Highmark on top of Fifth Avenue Place, or the fanciful glass merlons of One PPG Place. Isolated prominence. Great product placement and brand association, by the way; better than any advertisement on the scoreboard or outfield wall pad. 

In my preliminary research, I've found this same type of "wow" factor can be achieved in Las Vegas, but not many other places. And it all comes down to the same real estate word said in triplicate: Location, location, location. If those same Pittsburgh buildings existed where the river is, the success of the ballpark's design would have taken a serious hit. The illusion of the three tallest towers appearing equal in height would evaporate. And worse, the trio would ruin the scalar relationship between ballpark and its surroundings. PNC Park suddenly feels like a Little League field juxtaposed with edifices of steel and glass that much in your face. Spectators would have to crane their necks to see all the way to their tops. It proves how delicate and dependent the balance between cityscape and stadium is.  

Due to the ideal recipe of isolation, height, density, and orientation, PNC Park tops my list for Most Prominent Skyline in Major League Baseball. Las Vegas is on the fast track to position #2.

As you'll see in Part II, Cincinnati fell into the trap of thinking it was views of the water and "splash hit" home runs that the people coveted. PNC Park's water is only cool because it pulls the skyline back from the viewer. Well, that and the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The Reds don't have a skyline on the opposite shore. And while they do have a cool bridge, it's downriver and out of sight. Vegas can learn from both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh; opting for the same effect as PNC  buffer between park and tall buildings. It just won't be as naturally beautiful of a divide (I-15).

There is little prominence available for skyscrapers in the central business district of a New York or Chicago. After all, they are called "concrete jungles" for a reason. And it's tough for ballparks to play off the majesty of these thousand-foot-tall structures while standing in their shadows. If in the vicinity, you could not frame the neighborhood skyline into a singular view, especially if the stadium had a roof. 

For example, if the Empire State Building (the real one, not New York-New York's shorter facsimile) was set at the same distance from home plate as the Aria, you'd only be able to see up to the 67th floor. Anything above that would be cropped by the 245' tall roof, even if the glass portion were completely retracted. This means anyone sitting in the stadium's premium seating area would only be able to view 809 of the skyscraper's iconic 1,454 feet; nothing of the dramatic observation deck or spire. And that unobstructed floor count would shrink rapidly as the spectator's seats got higher and higher in the ballpark. In other words, sometimes smaller is better. 

And that is the crux of our Vegas discussion, since the A's will undoubtedly need a roof: They clip a person's sight line triangle. "Peeling it back" is the only way to extend the height in which a static item can be viewed. It is the very reason why New York instituted its infamous "setback laws" in the 1910s — adopted by nearly every major city on Earth shortly thereafter. 

So how could Vegas become the second-most prominent skyline in MLB if you can only see up to 809' of a building? Well, you can either be shorter or be further away. 

To be seen in totality, that same Las Vegas Empire State Building would have to be set 1,500 feet northeast of the Aria. In a place like Midtown Manhattan, good luck trying to get six blocks away from a tall object without something slightly smaller eclipsing it. This foreshortening effect proves it's better for the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, and White Sox to exist in pocket neighborhoods/boroughs devoid of the super tall skyscrapers.

Las Vegas' best friend is oddly going to be the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), which will prevent excessive verticality in future construction. In fact, the FAA is responsible for many height caps in cities you may not realize. San Diego could certainly justify a skyscraper greater than 500', but you won't find one there; the airport is simply too close to the urban core. Here's yet another prominence-related calculation affecting architectural design. In this case, the angle of elevation is a jetliner's angle of descent. 

Similarly, Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas was built at a time where there wasn't much to speak of in that particular part of Nevada. It was far away from downtown. However, The Strip blew up into a modern metropolis and now the airline infrastructure cannot be undone. On the bright side, Vegas will take over the Major League's shortest Uber ride from terminal to stadium gate (10 minutes; besting LaGuardia to Citi Field).

The flight pattern's proximity also means the current record for building height is a modest 735' 
— Fountainbleu Las Vegas, which is still under construction. Second place goes to Resorts World (673'), completed in 2021. Both were only allowed to go above 650' because of how far north they are. Closer to the runways, 600' is about as tall as a hotelier can build. This is where we'll find the A's ballpark and its huge zoning perk: No one can exceed what is already in the neighborhood. 

Note: If you're wondering about The Strat and its U.S. record-holding 1,149 feet of observation tower not being considered Las Vegas' tallest building, it does not meet the threshold for habitable floors. 

I would argue Las Vegas has one of the most notorious and easily-recognizable skylines in the world. And if we're repurposing the ideology of topographical prominence for tall buildings, with isolation being a key determinant of high status, then there is no American equivalent. It is an oasis like no other; there is literally nothing more than five stories around The Strip for hundreds of miles. And it will always stay that way; cheaper to grow out than up in the desert Southwest. 

Though the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 29th in the country, warranting a few super tall buildings, Las Vegas is more of a skyline comp to a smaller city like Milwaukee or New Orleans. 

Like any team photo from your childhood, it's smaller folks in the front and tall guys in the back. The Cosmopolitan towers (Chelsea and Boulevard) each top out at 610', Aria at an even 600', Planet Hollywood is 597', Vdara is 556', Waldorf Astoria is 539', Bellagio is 511', and The Martin is 483'. That's seven of the city's top 14 tallest buildings all within a stone's throw from the Vegas ballpark site. But the beauty is none of them are in the 900'+ range. You wouldn't be able to see their entire heights if they were.   

It helps that the centerpiece of the entire backdrop is the newest, sleekest, and starchitect-studded complex in Nevada. CityCenter really is the who’s who (Libeskind, Vinoly, Foster, Gensler, Arquitectonica, et. alia). These buildings ain’t your grandfather’s Fremont neon oasis, nor the hokey Epcot-esque replication of Paris, New York City, Venice, Rome, or Egypt. The skyline that ownership has at its disposal is some of the city's only authenticity. 

This portion of The Strip is a contemporary supergroup, and this stadium needs to fit in with the neighborhood's quality. Step one is to block out the plasticity that's lurking in a pan shot. Looking at you, Excalibur (or, as I call it, Eureeka's Castle).

Continue reading the next installment, where I rank each stadium currently in the Bigs.

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Pop quiz: How many wins did the Tampa Bay Rays end up with this season? Seriously, don't cheat. Attempt a guess, or at the very least, come up with a range. 75-80, right?   A few games over .500, maybe?    In major league seasons such as this, where all ten playoff teams were settled prior to the final Sunday, the average fan's stock response goes something like: "It was a busy Week 4 in the NFL. I know there's a tiebreaker or two on Monday, but I don't have a clue how the other teams ended up."  Well, would you trust me enough to not fact check it on your own if I said the Rays got all the way to 90-72?  And I'll do you one better. Take a look at all the promising teams that didn't make it to the 90-win plateau.  A sexy sleeper pick by many, this was supposed to finally be the year where the Seattle Mariners'  17-year playoff drought  would end  (89) .  Sparked by a managerial change in July, it sure looked like the St. Louis Cardinals coul

The Power That's Returned to 'Flower': Revising Marc-Andre's Postseason Legacy

For the life of me, I cannot come up with anything comparable for what Marc-Andre Fleury is doing in these playoffs. Resurrections of this magnitude rarely appear anywhere outside of the New Testament. Yet, here he is; back from the dead, leading (yes, leading) Pittsburgh to the Eastern Conference Final.  The liability has been converted to an asset, and share-holders that stuck with him through his penny stock days (i.e. me) are loving it.    There is a theme of this piece centered on rebounds. On the micro level, Fleury was able to respond from a 5-2 beat down in Monday's Game 6. In a hostile Verizon Center, he stopped all 29 Washington shots in Wednesday's series finale -- stealing the 2-0 victory . He was nothing short of spectacular in Round 2's only shutout. Fleury's name was apropos for the the barrage sustained. Even 5-on-5, the ice tilted in the home team's favor from the onset. To the nervous spectator, the game's first eight minutes read like a conti

How The Super Bowl Has Ruined Your High School Football Program

Back to work the day after the Super Bowl is always a tough one. The football season has come to an end and all that's left behind is a bitter chill in the air. There's nothing overly exciting on the sports docket until Major League Baseball's new Thursday Opening Day and the first two days of March Madness — all of which should be national holidays.  Until then, hockey and basketball teams will either be jockeying for playoff positioning or riding out the end of a disappointing season. That means an awful lot of tanking for Jack Hughes and Zion Williamson (personally I prefer R.J. Barrett), salary cap dumping, or attempting to land Artemi Panarin and Anthony Davis via trade. In each case, February has become more about off-field/court noise rather than the games themselves.  Face it, most of the month is a real nothing burger for sports coverage. If you want to hear people talk on screen, your time would be better spent catching up on Netflix stand-up specials. The flu

The St. Louis Cardinals Were Clearly Sent Here To Break This Wild Card Format, Too

If you've been around baseball long enough, you know exactly where this National League Postseason train is heading: Controversy Junction. Whether it's natural progression or divine intervention, the sport somehow knows to make a stop here whenever a playoff system is in dire need of a modification. The San Francisco Giants  — who have admirably held off the heavily-favored (and reigning ch ampion) Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as every analyst’s preseason darling (and completely overhyped) San Diego Padres all season — are going to potentially eclipse the 106-win plateau. They've already achieved an impressive/unforeseen 100-win season; just the eighth in their club's 139 illustrious years between New York and San Francisco.  But you can mark it down: Their magical run is going to end at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Game. Wait, what? They are still leading their division with only four games to go. Bold Prediction Time: San Francisco is going to

The Cloverleaf Chronicles I: Sun Angles

This is a companion piece to 4Most Sport Group's video series The Cloverleaf Chronicles . Read this in conjunction with Episode #1 on Sun Angles.  If you are stumbling upon this blog before watching the video, treat it as the prologue to what you will see. I f you are arriving here as directed by our little educational segment, c onsider this the rich backstory for the "star" of that show. Okay, that'll be the only terrible dad joke, I promise.  In all seriousness, this information is not entirely necessary to extract the thesis out of The Cloverleaf Chronicles' first installment. However, it is the perfect amount of "nerding out" for those, like me, that want to learn everything about everything. It's a medium dive, with plenty of Sun-related things there wasn't time to tuck into the video. Call it the director's cut. What we aim to do is drop a few anecdotes about our compelling heavenly body. We'll also sprinkle in some cultural hi