The New Wave in Major, Minor League Sport Design

April 15, 2004 · by DesignIntelligence

Baseball still holds the title of America’s pastime. In this issue, we present the architectural stats book: all the majors and AAA parks, who built them and when; their cost and capacity.

Despite football’s grosses and the fever-pitch of Final Four, baseball still holds the title of America’s pastime. The fields and stadiums where it is played often become shrines. While you rarely hear of a basketball or football fan setting out on a pilgrimage to visit every single park, it’s not uncommon in baseball.

For those fans, the details of who built it, when, and what history was made there is important. Books have been written about it, and Web space devoted to the subject are substantial, well-maintained and heavily visited.

Hopefully, it’s not all about nostalgia, because that’s a backward glance. Undoubtedly the retro look has influenced most major-league parks since Camden Yards. But while the look may be turn-of-the-century, the engineering is not. We’ve come a long way since the minor league stadium at Columbus, Ohio, collapsed after everyone sat down, following the first-ever singing of the national anthem at a sporting event. That’s according to the Clippers’ historian, Joe Santry. In this issue, we’ll take a look at the way the Astro’s giant retractable roof at Minute Maid Park was built ahead of schedule and under budget. Again, it’s a great leap forward from the air-conditioned Astrodome, at first hailed as the eighth wonder, and later a source of delight for sarcastic sports announcers for most of its history.

Here, we present the architectural stats book: all the majors and AAA parks, who built them and when; their cost and capacity. But we’ll start with a question-and-answer session with four firms, on the rising trend of minor league parks. Minor league teams sold about 39 million tickets last year, according to ESPN attendance records. (This also includes the Mexican League which has 16 teams, among them the Saltillo Serape Makers and the Oaxaca Warriors—pronounced, wa-ha-ka, thus explaining the Warriors.)

According to our research, 33 new minor league parks have opened since 2000. They are listed inside, too.

Our participating firms were HOK, Bruce Miller; DLR Group, Stan Meradith; EwingCole, Robert McConnell; and NBBJ, Friedl Bohm.

Some other fun-facts from the current issue:

14

Number of Major-League Stadiums HOK has designed/co-designed

57,545

Yankee Stadium’s capacity (Most seats in U.S. baseball)

$770 million

Montreal’s price tag, the highest so far

1912

Year that Fenway Park, the oldest field, opened

3

Number of Minor-League Stadiums the Houston Astros have opened since 2000

1926

Year the Portland Beavers, the Oldest Currently Operating Minor League Park Opened

Columbus Clippers

First minor-league team to install Astroturf

1998

The year the Clippers ripped it up, to put in grass

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Order the full Baseball Parks Issue ($12.95 PDF or $24.95 Print)

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