Skip to main content

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

How would the Vegas ballpark's centerfield shot rate against all others in the league? 

As outlined in Part I, Las Vegas has a real opportunity to stand apart from the pack when it becomes a Major League Baseball city. 

The following grades are not for the ballpark as a whole, but strictly the view of its surroundings from a second-deck, day-game view. The goal was to standardize a perspective. The search was to find something as close to directly behind home plate that matched the above criterion. I also wanted a middle-tier ticket price; not the nosebleeds, but not the comfy chairs that get seen on TV every pitch, either. This represented the average line of sight.

The caveat is that the following images discredit the peripheral vision and capable legs most humans possess. The entirety of the in-person experience is unarguably cropped out of each photo. And I'll be the first to admit: Sitting at a few of these locations wouldn't take much more than a 30° turn of the head to catch glimpse of an A+ skyline. With relative ease, a concourse stroll to the outfield sections would also change a few letter grades. But that's not the contest here, is it? Grant you, it is not anyone's fault the orientation of a ballpark doesn't "work" facing west. Build where you have the land; that centerfield view is secondary to playability. 

While I do make mention of a few venues that have a much better shot, sitting right off camera, don't expect a sympathy reward in this poll.   

Similarly, the last row at nearly every single MLB park does open up its respective city to really incredible architecture and/or natural beauty. But we cannot forget the main reason, the primary theater, a fan comes to witness. No bonus points for what a $5 ticket can see ten miles away.  
Beyond all the previously-stated issues with prominence in big cities, the New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles markets also have populations that require more seats than most. Even without bandwagonners from across the country, the Yankees are in an MSA with 20 million people. If a mere 0.5% of that number constitutes demand for tickets on a given night, they could fill a 100,000-seat stadium. 0.5% of my Cleveland Guardians' fan base wouldn't fill a lower bowl.

With that disparity comes some architectural trade-offs. High volume denies opportunities for many "peekaboo" moments beyond the outfield fence. To accommodate larger-than-average attendance potential, these first six facilities are some of the largest in the league (each 40,000+ seats). Four of them are as close to the Oakland Coliseum as modern ballparks get. The other two have  

Yankee Stadium kicks us off with a C- grade. Like most things about the new version, the old building somehow did it better — despite every attempt to transfer over a carbon copy. 

Citi Field is better than Shea, but not when applying this one measuring stick (D). And the scoreboard has only gotten bigger than this outdated photo; thing could blot out the sun. 

What is there nice to say about Guranteed Rate Field? Even if the White Sox tore down a small portion of the Brutalist infrastructure encasing the place, all fans would be treated to is the traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway. At least Old Comiskey had a northeast orientation toward town, which today, would provide this unforgettable scene. 

The antithesis of its Southside counterpart, Wrigley Field has managed to remain the "Friendly Confines" even into its second century in use. However, the most-recent renovations took away a lot of the Wrigleyville rooftop charm. And there's never been much of Chicago's epochal skyline to observe from this far north (C+).

Now we're talking. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (A) gets love from objective voters and it’s mainly because of what the ballpark contractors didn't build. Coming out of the Concrete Donut Era, a focus was placed on volumetric restraint. The parks of yesteryear never built tall enough to block all 360° of sight lines to the outside world. And this was the first aesthetic callback to that Golden Age. 

Camden Yards officially launched a Renaissance we're ostensibly living in to this day. From the moment of its completion, sports architects stopped designing baseball stadiums as if they were pools or bathtubs — one extruded mass, set to equal height, encircling the space within. I guess you could retroactively spin it to a positive that, at this time, many NFL franchises had begun moving out on their own; saying "goodbye" to their long-time MLB roommate(s). From 1982 to 1997, ball clubs in Oakland, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Houston watched their cotenant skip town completely. 

With those devastating losses came a "glass half full" outcome, however. No longer being required to house crowds of 70,000+ people (or a large grass rectangle somewhere on the playing surface) translated into a more intimate style. And what steel the Orioles chose not to erect left a pretty darn good view of what was already there. 

Similar story a decade later in San Diego (Petco Park: A). This time, though, it was the baseball team that moved out on the football team. *Chef kiss* for inviting one lucky member of their neighborhood (Western Metal Supply Co. Building) to take part in the game action.

Cincinnati botched the assignment nearly every possible way one team can (C-). And they had such an envious canvas in which to paint. In developing that late '90s master plan for life after Riverfront Stadium  in separate venues — the Bengals and Reds should have swapped locations. Great American Ball Park could have been situated facing northeast, back toward the skyline. 

That sounds like the field would have "turned its back" on the Ohio River, but not really, given how the southern border of the state bends. And the gain would have been shots of downtown beyond centerfield, with the iconic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (a former world record holder that predates the Brooklyn Bridge; same engineer) in right.

Instead, what we're treated to is frustratingly banal. You don't truly see the water, there's nothing of visual interest in Northern Kentucky, downtown Cincinnati is sitting tantalizingly close but directly behind most fans' heads, and nothing of a landmark bridge in is view. That's strike one, two, three, and four.

You either "waterfront" like San Fran (Oracle Park: A-) or you "skyline" like San Diego. 

Only the best can "skyline" and "waterfront" 
— PNC Park (A+). 

Coors Field tried to frame in the mountains, but they are just too far away (C-). Same grade as Cincinnati for equally scorning a Central Business District that's sitting right there behind home plate. 

If you're going to completely buck the skyline trend — aiming for a scenic landscape instead — you've got a long way to go to match the G.O.A.T., Dodger Stadium (A). 

Results in Los Angeles are not typical (Angel Stadium: D+). At least the mountains are closer than they appear in Denver.

Speaking of distance being an issue: Citizens Bank Park gave a valiant effort at framing in the city skyline. Sadly, the town's pro sports complex happens to be five miles south of City Center. The result is a swath of skyscrapers that look like they got hit with a shrink ray. They are beautifully aligned and perfectly placed in left center, which is why I still give the stadium a B+. Bumping up that score a tad: 
It is also my favorite batter's eye and bullpen arrangement in the league  stacked and slightly tucked behind the out-of-town scoreboard.

Philadelphia did everything they could possibly do correctly  in terms of the scoreboard and light tower placement  to give it the essence of what Baltimore or Pittsburgh has. The architectural restraint and open corridor are on display. The subject matter of interest is just too far away.  

And that’s the story in a lot of Big League cities. Las Vegas is being given a rare gift here. Places like Kansas City, Arlington, Anaheim, and now Atlanta have absolutely no downtown shot at all. 

Atlanta loves it, with its white flighting out to the ‘burbs. Sure, their Battery Park does fill the void in the sky beyond the outfield wall and bleacher seating. But that "skyline" is too corporate, too contrived. They are the stock images of generic buildings that come in a brand new 16x20 frame from HomeGoods. The Home of the Braves has the same amount of grit and authenticity as a shopping mall food court — which is essentially what the adjacent plaza has become.

I also don't like the scale in which those sleek new midrise buildings appear in the composition; too close to the field. Their color and proximity is ominous, like the evil tycoon's headquarters from a James Bond flick. Gimme the tenacity of a city skyline over a Fortune 500 tax haven (Truist Park: C). 

I really enjoy Kauffman Stadium but this is its one downfall (D). And it's not really the fault of the architects. Unlike Atlanta, Kansas City is desperately trying to get a new stadium built in its urban core. 

Tall buildings are a point of pride. Seeing them from the stadium, even if it’s famously “both of our buildings” in the case of Cleveland, is still something. It is my favorite team, but not my favorite stadium. And on this purely centerfield sightline rating system, "The Jake" scores quite low. Everything of visual interest (Quicken Loans Arena, Key Tower, Terminal Tower, 200 Public Square) is visible from most seats in the ballpark. But absolutely nothing is framed into the open area of the stadium from centerfield to that wonderful jet stream in right center (Progressive Field: C). They would have had to swing the orientation of the field to the west and that's a big no-no, so I get it.

Seattle's T-Mobile Park is another casualty of orientation. If you sit high enough or far enough down the first base line, you can see a the entire downtown skyline. And at some point, Utilitarianism can be appreciated as beautiful. The roof's profile, while open, is still an impressive sight to behold. But for the purposes of this exercise, it cannot score higher than a C-.

Toronto fits this bill as well. The Western Hemisphere's tallest freestanding structure (CN Tower) is literally next door, but you have to sit down the third base line to catch a strained-neck glimpse. See previous installment about being too close to be properly admired. Rogers Centre has an even more impressive dome when fully retracted. And it has recently upgraded much of what is in centerfield below it (middle of the pack C). 

St. Louis has a decent-enough view of the Arch, which is what the people "need" to see (Busch Stadium: B-). The city's taller buildings are found northwest of this view corridor, though. Since the old stadium's demolition, the current centerfield skyline has been fairly empty. Most of what can be seen today has been built by the organization over the last decade. Sadly, two of the buildings in view (Millennium Hotel and Railway Exchange Building) remain entirely defunct/vacant. 

Living there for ten years, I always wondered what a due north ballpark view would have done to enhance this park. The Arch would have stayed in sight — directly above the right field foul pole  while some more attractive architecture would have panned into the shot. 

Target Field has also had a new building in straightaway center built after its completion, bumping it from a B- to a "good... solid... seven and a half." In my book, that Willie Conway reference means it's a B. 

This is becoming a trend and Vegas wouldn’t have to do it out of order. Everyone else in the league is realizing how important it is to have a tower there and it's contrived. The A's have options for genuine.  

A solid comp for this is Detroit… big check mark for Comerica Park. The scoreboard stays out of the way. The buildings came first, in some cases 100 years prior. It's a rough-exterior skyline that matches the ballpark (and city) ethos. The "Whale Tower" was infamous among the avid MLB fans since its 2000 opening. 

In my opinion, Washington is a missed opportunity on a lot of fronts. The name should’ve been National (not Nationals) Park. Can’t see anything iconic about D.C. and there are countless opportunities and scripted view corridors for that (C-). 

I hated grading Fenway Park. It is unequivocally Boston's worst view of anything not named Fenway (F), but the world's most amazing excuse for why that is (A+). It is an icon and a nothing burger — with a side salad of obstruction  so that averages out to a C. Go ahead, send the hate mail now. 

Texas, Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Miami really need not apply for this discussion. They vary in degrees of attractiveness beyond the home run fence. But aside from a view windows here and there, anything of beauty is found inside their back walls. Since those are aesthetics created by the stadium's architects and constructed in conjunction with the field, they cannot be judged apples-to-apples in a centerfield skyline contest. 

Do you agree with my grades?

1. PNC Park (Pittsburgh, PA): A+
2. Future A's Ballpark (Las Vegas, NV): A
3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore, MD): A
4. Petco Park (San Diego, CA): A
5. Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles, CA): A
6. Oracle Park (San Francisco, CA): A-
7. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia, PA): B+
8. Comerica Park (Detroit, MI): B
9. Target Field (Minneapolis, MN): B
10. Busch Stadium (St. Louis, MO): B-
11. Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL): C+
12. Truist Park (Cumberland, GA): C
13. Fenway Park (Boston, MA): C
14. Minute Maid Park (Houston, TX): C
15. Progressive Field (Cleveland, OH): C
16. Rogers Centre (Toronto, ON): C
17. Coors Field (Denver, CO): C-
18. Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati, OH): C-
19. T-Mobile Park (Seattle, WA): C-
20. Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY): C-
21. Nationals Park (Washington, DC): C-
22. Angel Stadium (Anaheim, CA): D+
23. Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City, MO): D
24. Citi Field (Queens, NY): D
25. Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago, IL): D-

26. Chase Field (Phoenix, AZ): Incomplete
27. LoanDepot Park (Miami, FL): Incomplete
28. Globe Life Field (Arlington, TX): Incomplete
29. American Family Field (Milwaukee, WI): Incomplete
30. Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, FL): F 

Note: Vegas at the Tropicana site would be a C- (17th in the league). If the Charlotte Knights' Truist Field were in Major League Baseball, it would be an A (2nd behind PNC Park). 


Final Thoughts

This Vegas ballpark design is also ripe for "aftermarket modifications" galore. The site has acres to the northeast along this corridor under Athletics' ownership control. If they wanted to add three-story restaurants with rooftop bars, they could inject some of that nostalgic neighborhood ballpark feel around the perimeter without blocking out this amazing skyline view. After all, what would Vegas be without cheap/fake/kitschy clones of some other part of the world's greatest architectural triumph? Faux Wrigleyville it is!
The Bellagio is in left centerfield. So the A's better have a fountain in the ballpark that aligns with it from behind home plate. And above that air space is the shortest portion of the Vegas skyline. It leaves an opportunity to build tall enough to be seen; namely the vacant land next to Trump Tower. From that distance, however, it would require a height north of 750 feet. Topping out above the Don's fragile ego would be the most fun part of that development. 

If a straight line from home plate to centerfield continued on through the city, it would bisect the MGM Sphere. Fashion me a little like the map makers from Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are no accidents in my designs. 

As for a critique on the interior, I've been playing around with some fun home run dimensions and unique quirk to reinject into Major League Baseball. Trying out some new things like the accordion left field corner and a centerfield where you have an overhang that rewards with home runs but also triples that can't get up high enough. 

Popular posts from this blog

For MLS Expansion, 27 Is The Magic Number Garber & Co. Continues To Disregard

What a wild two months it has been for the next (and final) wave of expansion in Major League Soccer. The recent surge of headlines has been a welcome sighting; the league office had gone radio silent on the topic for far too long. If you can believe it, the awarding of  Nashville SC  as a future franchise is already coming up on its one-year anniversary.  The most contemporary piece on the subject — team number 24 going to  FC Cincinnati  — turns six months old next week. It sure feels like just yesterday, but time flies when there is nothing else verifiable to report. Until early September, that Cincinnati announcement sat on the "Recent News" tab of MLS expansion sites collecting dust. Even the most speculative bloggers were in wait-and-see mode. Forecasting any further seemed futile until a deadline for the next batch of proposals was presented.    The only other expansion story of 2018 came out in January, when  David Beckham's South Florida endless soccer quest

From Wounded Wood Duck To Thoroughbred In A World Series-Bound "Stable"

Do you know the typical setting of a rookie reliever making his 1,000th Major League pitch? That answer is an emphatic "No" perhaps followed by a good-natured "No one does." Even in today's pitch count-centric world, that's not a threshold any analyst is rattling off during a telecast. But, by diving heavy into the research, I found out that we may have witnessed the most iconic instance in baseball history on Saturday night. For your [modern] classic one-inning bullpen guys, with an average of 17 pitches per, you're looking at their 58th career appearance. With the focus on service time and "starting the free agency clock" it's become really tough to squeeze that many outings into a singular rookie campaign.  On the rare occasion that a rookie spends an entire season with a Major League club  — like a Jeurys Familia did with the 2014 New York Mets  — 1,000 occurs during appearance number 61 in the dog days of summer (August 20). He went o

The Best Season Few Talked About & Even Fewer Came Out To See

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