Baseball Park Construction Trends in the 1990s
The current trend in baseball park construction is a retro design, reminiscent of the early years, combined with modern technology. This trend, dubbed “The Construction Era” by Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated, is prominent in three new American League parks: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Jacobs Field, and The Ballpark at Arlington. The current idea for ballpark construction is to locate the retro style parks in the heart of urban areas. The whole movement was initiated by the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and it’s radical new design concept.
It all started on April 6, 1992, the inaugural game at Baltimore’s new stadium: Camden Yards. That day 47,930 people packed out the new stadium to witness what Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated, called “ The single most influential athletic creation since artificial ice”(#2).
This was the birth of the current trend in construction of ballparks. The goal of the designers of Camden Yards was to create the first fan, and player friendly ballpark. The designers wanted to capture the feel of an old fashioned ballpark combined with twentieth century technology. The designers accomplished this in many radical new ways.
First they started with the outside of the stadium. They chose a brick front, which enhanced its retro look. Secondly they incorporated the B&O warehouse in the backdrop, which by the way is “the longest building on the east coast: 1,016 ft long by 51 ft wide”(#7). The warehouse is used as the Orioles main offices, a restaurant, a gift shop, and a club.
Second of all, the designers incorporated the Baltimore skyline with its open style “park” as opposed to the bowl style prevalent in the 1970’s.
Thirdly, the designers incorporated the latest technology into the stadium. The sound system, visual displays and seating was all designed so that everyone in the park could see and hear what was going on. The designers also placed television monitors in every section under the overhang for the crowd to see the t.v. replays.
The fourth aspect that helps create the retro atmosphere at Camden Yards is the color scheme in the park. The seats are all green, and each one has the 1890 Orioles club seal on it. The wall in left field is home to green ivy that was brought over from Memorial Stadium.
The green seats and the ivy growing on the left-center wall help the park to look both open and natural, much like the first ballparks did at the beginning of baseball.
Finally, the last characteristic of Camden Yards that make it a retro style park is that it is located in downtown Baltimore. In the young days of baseball most of the ballparks were in the city since that is where a majority of the population lived. Lack of transportation also played a big role in building a ballpark downtown during the beginning days of baseball. Most people walked to the games, so it was important for the first ballparks to be relatively close to the...