I’ll start with the nitpicks just to get them out of the way.
- There’s no batter’s eye in centerfield. The ability to see through from the park into the playing field is nice, but it’s not going to work during games. I could see them putting in a curtain or screen that retracts during off days or in between innings.
- I can’t say for sure which way the ballpark is oriented, but from the flythrus the field appears to be facing northeast. If that’s true that’s a shame, because if they positioned 45 degrees south they’d have Mission Peak as the backdrop. Note: the field may actually be facing north.
- The brick exteriors. I really hope the brick is only there to provide texture for the renderings and sketches. We’ve seen enough of it. Try something else.
- I don’t see the bullpens anywhere in the sketches or renderings. Do you? They might be beyond the 410′ markers. If so, they’re hidden underneath the scoreboard and have two rows of seats between the pens and the field. Now that’s odd.
- 320′ down the lines and the cut-ins. I understand the neighborhood concept, but the short porches down the lines could mean a few extra cheap home runs. The extremely deep gaps (410′) are a good counterpoint. The dimensions look a little similar to Petco’s but the fog and marine layer won’t be as much of a factor. I’ll do some temperature surveys next spring to show the difference between the Coliseum and Cisco.
- I’m still concerned that the club level (field) will prevent regular fans from being able to walk down to the front row for autographs. It’s a tradition worth keeping.
- It would be nice if the grandstand down the first base line used the same angles and the grandstand down the third base line. It’s cleaner and sharper.
- What the heck is Big Mutt?
That said, there’s a lot to love about this concept. Let’s start with the grandstand, since that’s where most everyone will be sitting.
It appears like four decks, but it’s more like two large decks. Take a good look at this cross-section, taken from the animations page:
This will be, by far, the most intimate new ballpark in baseball. The upper deck cantilever is really aggressive. It’s even better than I could have hoped for, better than I’ve drawn up. The yellow/red model is Cisco Field, while the white model is… SBC Park in all likelihood. All of the decks are closer and lower than their SBC or McAfee counterparts. Techies (like me) better be on the lookout, because if they’re busy staring down at a smart phone, they’re liable to get a screaming liner right in the grill.
The upper deck is actually split in two. The lower section has 13 rows, while the upper section has 7. That makes the combination one row deeper than the Coliseum’s upper deck. Why are they separated? Three reasons:
- Wolff said that he wanted all concourses to have a view of the game. The separation allows that to happen.
- Wheelchair seating positions are easier to come by. I wrote about this in my review of Stanford Stadium. This arrangement has also in use at New Busch Stadium and Great American Ball Park.
- It’s easier to define different pricing within the upper deck. The A’s might decide to have a handful of cheap seats in the upper deck corners. Even those will be good seats.
The leftfield bleachers rise above a small street and connect to a building across the street. Now that’s integration. I hope the risers are made of steel or aluminum so that they can get really noisy. It wouldn’t be hard to bring the “A” or triangle shape used in last year’s model.
The full street concourse is an evolution of what’s been done in Baltimore and San Diego. Rightfield looks a lot like Eutaw Street, and the centerfield park is a lot more cohesive than the park-within-the-park area at Petco. The double-sided video board isn’t new, but its sheer size will make it compelling. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to show all road games on the exterior board. And once a week during the summer, the board would be a natural place to have outdoor movies and concerts. One of the neat things about Petco is that they have a $5 Park Pass admission, which acts as a cover charge of sorts that allows for standing room admissions. Since the street and park would be part of the ballpark when during games, it’s conceivable that several thousand of these Park Passes could be sold without violating fire code. It’s a cheap ticket to get in, a bump in revenue, and a way to bring fans into all of those restaurants in the ballpark village. Yes, standing room sometimes sucks, but…