Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Rays Fantasy Land

Plans were unveiled for the Rays new probably-never-gonna-happen park yesterday. No real roof, though. They're raising a sail instead:

In a news conference held in the outfield of Al Lang Field, team officials, Florida governor Charlie Crist, and MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy praised the design of the state-of-the-art ballpark, which will include a unique retractable roof made of a weatherproof fabric that will be pulled along cables suspended between arches on one end and a central mast structure on the other . . .

. . .The roof, likened to a giant sail, will produce an umbrella effect, retaining the open-air feel. Rays officials, working with HOK Sport architects, deemed a traditional retractable roof impractical because of the small site and undesirable, since it would block the water views. The design calls for climate-cooling techniques that will lower temperatures 8-10 degrees. Those include keeping the "sail" up during the days before games. Michael Kalt, the Rays senior vice president of development and business affairs, said the process should at least make the mid-summer temperature inside the stadium comparable to those in Baltimore, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

Kind of a neat idea until you realize that mid-summer temperatures in Baltimore, Kansas City, and St. Louis aren't exactly something worth aspiring to. Maybe instead of a sail they should use those long plastic flaps you see over the open back door of reefer trucks and just plunk an a/c unit on the joint.

What does the public think of it all? The Tampa Tribune asked folks hanging around after the unveiling. St. Pete resident Nicole Kelly is obviously concerned about the dubious funding scheme and likelihood that far more taxpayer dollars will ultimately have to be plowed into the project when it is all said and done:
"I think it would be pretty cool to see a home run go into the water," she

Or maybe not.


Mike said...

Home runs going into the water? That sounds familiar. Maybe the Rays should also copy the funding mechanism that other park with splash hits used.

Seriously, the benefits of a taxpayer funded new stadium to the community are dubious. And while Peter McGowan has to make some big mortgage payments on Pac Bell, he does own one sweet piece of real estate. He's going to do just fine in the end. MLB (and the NFL and the NBA) needs to keep its nose out of civic affair and encourage private investment.

Besides Pac Bell, what are some recent examples of privately-funded stadiums?

Shyster said...

Keep in mind, Mike, that sweet piece of real estate (i.e. the actual land) was donated by the city, so it wasn't 100% privately financed. Your point is taken, though, and I think that even though most stadium projects don't fulfill the promises that are made, Pac Bell has, mostly because the promise wasn't all that big.

Besides Pac Bell I can't think of another MLB stadium that was privately funded since Dodger Stadium.

BTW: it's probably no accident that Dodger Stadium and Pac Bell are two of the nicest damn parks you'll ever go to. When you don't have to spend taxpayer money you don't have to make as many compromises.

Diesel said...

@ Mike
Maybe the Rays should also copy the funding mechanism that other park with splash hits used.

Are you saying the Rays should sign Barry Bonds?

Anonymous said...

practicalities aside, (like cost, game temp, etc.) I think it's a staggeringly beautiful design. Take the virtual tour and the views and integration into the skyline/waterside are really, really nice. I'm a Nats fan and our new park was supposed to "break the mold" of the OPACY paradigm. But this makes ours look as bad as RFK.

Pete Toms said...

Honest to goodness the first thing I thought upon seeing the rendering of this stadium is the Olympic Stadium. I know the folks at HOK Sport architects are very reputable, I see their name often in big projects, but man oh man the memories of the Big O fiasco are so strong.....the roof worked, it didn't, it did, it didn't and....It is one of the biggest political fiascos in Cdn politics in my lifetime.

If they build it though, I do think people will come, at least in the short term. The waterfront location has to be appealing.

2 familiar and fairly recent trends in this proposal. The small capacity, 34,000, more and more the norm. New A's - Cisco i.e. 2nd trend as I've seen mentioned on this blog before, it's about the real estate. The big cash - which the Rays want a chunk of - is in the redevelopment of the Trop site. Stadium as leverage and political capital in real estate development is the trend.

I'm in agreement with most on this subject, public investments in stadiums for pro sports is bad government. ( I must cop though to calling my city councillor - the one and only time - to express my support for public funding of a baseball stadium here. ) So much for my principles.