For Some Fans, Stadium Designers Whiffed Big-Time
Saturday, March 18, 2006
After spending a season inside bowl-like Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium last season, George F. Will, the conservative pundit known for his passion for baseball, has high hopes for the new Washington Nationals' stadium design.
"The concept of the park in both the positioning of it for the views and the light and airiness of it is wonderful," Will said yesterday, reflecting on the designs unveiled this week by District Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) that showed a ballpark made largely of glass, steel and concrete. "It's the complete reverse of those dual-purpose monstrosities" like RFK, Will said.
But Ralph Nader, the consumer activist who fought against the $611 million in public funds for the stadium project, was less impressed.
"It's the schlockiest design," Nader said. "It's ugly, so ugly it's going to lower the price of naming rights. What they should have done, since the taxpayers are funding this, is put it out for a broad public review."
When it comes to Washington's most ballyhooed new building in progress, nearly everyone in the city and suburbs seems to have an opinion. Some endorsed the design, calling it an interesting change of pace from such throwback red-brick ballparks as Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Others blanched at the drawings, comparing the design to a shopping mall, an office building or an airport.
"It reminds me of a three-ring circus," said Bobby Pace, 51, a native New Yorker who lives in Arlington and tends bar at The Palm restaurant in downtown Washington.
"You've got everything you want, except a place to drop off your dry cleaning and to buy your groceries."
Among the attractions are a restaurant, a picnic area, team stores, wide concourses with vendors, 78 luxury suites and a row of retail shops.
Architects working for the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission said they were aiming for a stadium that would feel indigenous to the city, tying in with the federal monuments, the Washington Convention Center and Verizon Center.
At the City Sports store yesterday, half a block from Verizon Center, DeWand Milford, 31, and friend Tamara Miles, 32, both from Hyattsville were doing some quick shopping.
Milford, wearing a black Nationals cap, gave the architects praise for "trying to break the mold."
"This is really bringing in the new millennium look," he said. "The best metaphor I can use is that it looks like the Emerald City in the 'Wizard of Oz.' There's more pizzazz that can bring new fans into the game like me."