Stadium by committee

If MetLife Stadium is the result of two teams working together to build a stadium, the practice should be banned posthaste and forever until kingdom come.

The problem becomes apparent the minute one comes upon the stadium. The bulk of the stadium’s façade is gray steel louvers. They function to allow breezes into the concourses while protecting from wind and snow, and as far as that goes they do a great job. Unfortunately, it makes the whole place look like a parking garage. MetLife Stadium feels like it aspires to be an office building, which makes sense once you go inside.

East entry near the train station

East entry near the train station

Nearly everything inside is some shade of gray. There are four shades of gray for the seats. The columns are a sort of gunmetal gray. Walls are medium. Some of the color comes from mood lighting on some signage, which can be switched from green for the Jets to blue for the Giants from game to game. The rest of the color comes from corporate branding. MetLife has a huge plaza on the western sideline. Verizon, Pepsi, SAP, and Bud Light have their corners of the concourse. Banners are on rotating installations to allow for quick changeovers. Altogether, the place has all the charm of a brand new hospital: clinical, safe, boring, inoffensive.

Perhaps that’s the point. In order to make the Stadium appear to not favor one team over the other (as was obvious at Giants Stadium), MetLife Stadium was built essentially devoid of character. Sure, the place has the requisite suites (four levels), fancy clubs, and plenty of space under the bowl to host any number of event types. The technology inside is neat, and there’s even a mini concourse behind the 100 level for standing room admissions. Still, it’s impossible to get over the fact that MetLife Stadium is just one big soulless, brazen corporate exercise. In that sense, I suppose it’s perfect for the upcoming Super Bowl.

If the 49ers and Raiders had agreed to a co-constructed stadium in Santa Clara, it might’ve looked a little like this. I’d like to think that the two teams would do more to make the stadium truly dual-identity, instead of no identity in the Meadowlands. MetLife Stadium is living proof that technology is no substitute for vision. Cowboys Stadium is also brazenly corporate, but at least it places the Cowboys front and center. The Giants and Jets have to live with this pile of concrete indefinitely. Sucks for them.

15 thoughts on “Stadium by committee

  1. MetLife ended up with concrete/steel support columns placed within the seating areas, leaving some seats with obstructed views. That never happened with the supposedly obsolete Giants Stadium that opened in 1976.

  2. This is why I’m kind of glad the Niners went ahead without the Raiders. Their new stadium is turning into a Niners shrine where it very easily could have ended up as Meadowlands west had the Raiders been involved from the ground up. However I also think the fact it’s become Niner central just lessens the odds that the Raiders will ever call Levis Stadium home on anything more than a short term basis (if at all).

    Also in the Meadowland’s defense, it’s not the first stadium to suffer from this lack of identity, and I doubt it will be the last. Most of the 60’s multipurpose stadiums to some extent or another suffered from the same problem. But where Metlife has gun metal steel, the 60’s stadiums used concrete.

  3. Good write up. I know the exterior panels serve their purpose and have to be strong enough to deal incredibly harsh weather, but I wonder if they considered putting in panels that could light up. I know it’s not for everyone but I kind of like the way the Allianz Arena in Munich lights up and constantly changes colors. Those aren’t panels like MetLife has, but I’m sure lighted panels could be possible. I’m also sure it would cost millions and millions of dollars. But if this building is going to be standing for decades it might be worth the investment.

  4. OT (I know this is about Metlife) I hate that stadium and location with a passion!)

    I like attending games at Cowboy Stadium. Except for the long lines in the Cowboy store and restrooms, I have always had a pleasant experience with tailgating, parking, game day traffic and I found the prices for food/beer reasonable.I don’t think it’s too commercialized, but it does lack the 12th man experience. I mean the stadium does get loud, but the A’s 30K crowds easily make more noise than 90-100k Cowboy fans. Fans seem to watch the game on the jumbotron more than they do the actual games at times. I do like the fact that Cowboys have VIP seating close to field lvl. I once went to a game in the end zone where I sat directly below Randy White. I hope the Niners new stadium incorporates something like this from Cowboy stadium.

    I wont’ be able to watch the Niners or Raiders live this year, but I do have plans on going to Soldier Field, Fed Ex, Cowboy Stadium, and Rich Stadium (22 Dec Yikes!)this year.

    My next west coast trip is the A’s homestand against the Twins, hope to see some of you guys there.

  5. Following up on Mike2’s OT, I’ll be at Cowboys Stadium for the Thanksgiving Raider game.

  6. Re: MetLife, you’d think they could’ve used a blue-green color for the seats that would’ve at least hinted at both teams’ colors instead of gray. I do like that there are seats all the way around (stadiums like Philly and Cleveland seem weird for football, as gaps work in baseball but seem antithetical to football’s desire for camaraderie and loud stands). But why couldn’t they have eliminated the obstructed views (there aren’t all that many, but that there are any is ridiculous)?

  7. Brian, I have the opposite view. I’ve never understood the desire to fully enclose like they went with at MetLife. Some of the best venues in the NFL have open or partially open end(s) like Gillete Stadium or Centurylink Field in Seattle (which to my mind is probably the nicest stadium in the league). Centurylink also happens to be one of the loudest venues in the league while still offering decent views of the downtown skyline. That’s not to say aesthetics are the only reason to keep the ends open, as the best seats for games tend to be those down the sidelines, not in the endzones. So why put them there?

    That to me is where MetLife seemed like an oddity as well. Even Cowboys Stadium has a somewhat open end with the windows where the stripper poles are/were. MetLife on the other hand appears to be more of a throwback design. During construction I remember seeing an aerial view of MetLife nearing completion with Giants Stadium still standing next door, and the two had a very similar general design.

  8. Ill be at AT&T stadium on thanks giving also repping that silver n black with my cousins from north texas. I’ve always received a lot of love from cowboys fans in Dallas when I would visit and sport my raider gear..cowboys/raiders fans just get along great for some reason.. Maybe cuz we both hate the whiners.. Anyways sorry for the off topic ML

  9. @Larry E.,
    I remember in the early 2000’s an East San Jose pizza parlor there were both Raiders and Cowboys fans cheering and high fiving loudly against the Niners for a Sunday night football game. The Cowboys are my second football team after the Raiders due to family in west Texas and southern New Mexico. Yes, us and The Boys due have a common bond. Aloha!

  10. You look at some of the loudest outdoor stadiums in history and they all seemed to have some part of the stadium opened. Mile High, Century Link, Arrowhead, and Gillette. Domed and wanna-be domed stadiums don’t count IMO.

    For those that are going to the Cowboys/Raiders game enjoy, I will be at Fed Ex watching the Niners destroy RG3 on the 25th. I will have to wear a pink RG3 jersey since I lost a bet last year, but idk since it’s a free game and trip for me.

  11. Looks very vanilla. If I ever get out there for a game, hopefully will be mildly enjoyable. How are thee concessions, ML?

  12. Well the Super Bowl should be intersting. I love the idea of a cold weather Super Bowl

  13. ML, that’s not unusual. I’ve never been to a football stadium that has a great beer selection. Candlestick and the Coliseum are passable but still not great, and I attribute the latter more to it being a baseball stadium most of the time.

  14. Do football fans anywhere really need a variety of beers? Half the crowd is overserved from the tailgate, and the other half think Bud Light Platinum is an upper-end beer.

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