Major League Ballpark Trends Part 2

Major League Ballpark Trends Part 2 


This is a continuation of an article started on Thursday.  It can be viewed at


 Mid 20th Century 1923-1961  7 built, 1 in use (soon to be replaced).

1)    These parks were built on large plots of land with access to all sorts of transportation.
2)    These parks were often renovated but many were built very large.  Most in excess of 35,000 and usually more than 50,000.  Some were renovated minor-league parks that served as acceptable major-league parks. For the most part large bleacher sections and upper deck outfield seats characterized this genre.
3)    Most of these parks had large outfields.  Fences were distant and of a constant height.  There was some asymmetry but there were few sharp corners or odd angles.4)    Parks were made primarily of concrete and steel.  Support beams were still needed on all these structures.  Some stadiums of this genre had a roof over the seating area while others did not.
5)    Parks were usually publicly owned and given a civic sounding name (ex Yankee).  All parks (ex Candlestick) were called stadium.
6)    These parks were built when pro-football was coming of age in the USA and with their large capacities and playing surfaces they lent themselves nicely to double-duty.  Football and baseball were twin-headliners for most of these parks lives but there was still very little if any architectural allowances made for football.  The multi-use came as a coincidence.  The size of these parks forced many baseball spectators to sit a long ways from the action at home plate. 
7)    Post-war stadiums were built with lights whereas pre-war parks were not.

Late 20th Century Baseball Stadiums 1962-1991 4 built, 4 still in use. 

1)    These are mostly suburban parks with access to freeways and commuter routes.  They are situated on large plots of land surrounded by parking lots.
2)    These parks have not changed over time.  Most are in the same configuration they were constructed.  Usually with a capacity between 40,000 and 55,000. (note Angel Stadium was expanded in 1979 only to be renovated again in the mid-90s back to its original configuration.)
3)    These parks were built symmetrically with no odd angles or fences height changes. Comiskey Park has made changes over the last couple years to make its appearance more Neo-Classical but any outfield asymmetries are unnatural.
4)    Parks were made of reinforced concrete.  No support beams were needed.  Upper decks were forced to be located farther from the field.  However, these parks have great sightlines and engineers compromised height for location and sightlines.  These parks introduced the half-roof and only the upper rows of the upper decks were covered if there was a roof at all.
5)    Parks were called baseball stadiums and are named after the team or significant owner.  (Comiskey Park has taken a corporate name, and Angel Stadium had a corporate name for some time.)
6)    These parks were all designed for baseball only and have never had football played there (see note in para2).  The seating plan is very undesirable for football as most seats are centered on the infield, the grandstand curves with the field and there is very little outfield seating.  This forces the upper decks to be higher than stadiums of similar capacities of another genre. 
7)    All parks were built with lights.

Multi-Purpose Stadiums 1962-1989 15 built, 6 in use (2 to be replaced).
1)    These Stadiums were typically built close to the heart of a city with some exceptions but still had access to major freeways and rapid public transit routes.  Many were built on public land and incorporated into urban renewal or a civic parkland complex.  Many became urban signatures for their city.
2)    These stadiums are fully enclosed and do not allow for massive structural changes.  Some of these stadiums were capped with domes or retractable domes.  All were round, or rounded or of similar symmetrical shape.  All stadiums were built in the 45,000 to 65,000 seat range. 
3)    These parks were built symmetrically with no odd angles or fence height changes.  Most have nearly identical dimensions with each other.  Metrodome, Kingdome and Dolphins Stadium are exceptions as their overall shape was more accommodating to football and forced baseball fields to be naturally asymmetrical.
4)    Parks were made of reinforced concrete.  Some are impressive domed structures.  No support beams were needed.  Stadiums were round and this caused sightlines to be some of the poorest ever witnessed in baseball.  The interior shape of RFK and SkyDome combat this to some extent.
5)    These structures are all called stadium or dome.  They were usually publicly financed and their names reflected a place name, geographic situation or a notable public figure.  (Many of these parks adopted the en-vogue corporate naming theme in the late 1990s)
6)    All these parks were designed with multi-purposes in mind.  This design scheme compromised both baseball and football sightlines to varying extents.  All of these stadiums have some sort of moveable seating area.  The most popular is rotating grandstands on the field level.  This, fortunately, shapes the field to the sport being played and gives some resemblance to a baseball field.  The upper decks are far away from the playing field and do not curve with the foul lines. With the exception of SkyDome, these parks main feature is the play on the field no matter how far you are from it.  They are mostly bare boned structures that were constructed to hold people to watch a game or a show, nothing else.  SkyDome is the first Mall Park.
Neo-Classical Ballparks 1992-2006 “the Mallparks” 16 built, all still in use.

1)    These parks are usually built as close to down town as possible.  However, to meet the needs of the modern American commuter they are usually situated on freeways and public transit routes.  Some were built next to or on top of their predessor. (ex.Ameriquest Field is in a parking lot, ex.Comerica Park is truly down town).
2)    Some of these parks have retractable domes.  These domes have several different techniques of opening and closing.  These parks are all still too new to have gone through major renovations.  Most of the structures would allow for this in the future (ex.Tropicana Field has a major renovated before the 1998 season).   All stadiums are within the 40,000 to 50,000 seat range.

3)    The game changed from the early 90s when fences were shorter to the late 90s and 2000s when run production had taken off and home run fences were moved back.  All these parks have in common are quirky outfields with asymmetrical dimensions that are unnatural creations of architects and designers.  There is no utility guiding the design of the playing field and the stadium is built around the field.
4)    Parks were made of reinforced concrete but usually displayed a retro exterior with open archways and glitzy entrances.  Sightlines contour the playing field.  There is usually limited outfield seating and capacity is smaller than other stadiums built of reinforced concrete but many upper deck seats are very high.
5)    These parks (with a couple exception) were given often changing corporate names.  Whether these parks were domes or retractable domes they all had the suffix field, park, ballpark.  Luckily the suffix stadium has survived in St. Louis.  Most of these parks are public ventures but regardless of the source they have taken a corporate name. 
6)    All these parks are MallParks.    The only sport they host is baseball but there is so much more going on that they cannot be considered single-purpose.  Many “MallParks” feature amusement rides, pools, ritzy hotels, railway trains in the outfield, bars and restaurants, aquariums on the field just to mention a few.  Some seats are located behind a roller coaster or swing set or tank of live devil rays (sorry for any exaggeration).  While the stadium is situation around the field there is so much to do at the park that the experience of being at these stadiums that they can be considered to be not multi-purpose but multi-tasking.  Any design compromise is given to off-field attractions. 
Conclusion to follow…

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4 replies on “Major League Ballpark Trends Part 2”
  1. says: ripismoney

    I really love Comerica Park. I just try and ignore the ferris wheel and the merry-go-round… Of course, its location wasn’t a problem for mass transit. Detroit doesn’t really have any… But it is within walking distance of all of the great attractions downtown.

    This ballpark trends series is quite interesting.

  2. says: Kman

    Not gonna lie to you, this is some solid research. I’d like to see you add in the Safco’s of the world. I know you left them out in the intro but with such an in-depth look at the other parks you should make mention. Again, this is really solid. After part 3 you should maybe do a couple of parks on their own, and tie them into your seven critiera. All in all, whenever your finished this product I can pretty it up for you and maybe we could send it off to the SABR and see if they’ll print it. Good Work!

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