Old-style Ballparks, Fronting On Urban Streets, Spur In-City Living

Author: Philip Langdon
Issue: September 2003
Issue Date: Mon, 2003-09-01
Page Number: 1

A July 27 New York Times article has stimulated debate about whether the trend toward “retro” sports stadiums has begun to wane and, if so, whether this will be good or bad for cities. “For more than a decade, what’s new in sport design has been what’s old — or at least old-fashioned,” Christopher Hawthorne, a contributing editor at Metropolis magazine, wrote in the Times. Since 1992, when the Orioles opened their ballpark at Camden Yards near the western edge of downtown Baltimore, major league baseball stadiums have, according to Hawthorne, favored “nostalgic touches” such as brick facades, old-fashioned signs, grass rather than artificial turf, and “nooks, crannies and other imposed eccentricities in the outfield.” From an urbanistic perspective, retro ballparks have generally been a big improvement over the multipurpose stadiums that sprouted in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the baseball facilities built in the past several years, such as Coors Field in Denver and Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, front on city streets and are situated within an easy walk of apartments, restaurants, public transportation, and other amenities. Minor-league teams, which have orchestrated a giant spurt of stadium construction in the past 15 years, have enthusiastically embraced the