Spring Brings New Diamonds

New York

The New York Mets announced earlier this month that Shea Stadium will be demolished and a new ballpark, designed by HOK Sport, will replace it. Following recent trends in ballpark design, the stadium will evoke early 20th-century ballparks and will be dedicated to baseball. The new ballpark will be smaller than Shea, reducing seating from about 57,000 to about 45,000. The stadium will also have 58 luxury suites; Shea currently has 45.

The new ballpark is meant to evoke memories of Ebbets Field, the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, particularly through an entry rotunda that will serve as the main entrance to the new park. Exposed steel girders will also remind Mets fans of the bridges that bring them to Queens. Besides steel, the main building materials will be limestone, granite, brick, and cast-stone.

The new Mets stadium is not expected to raise much community opposition, since it will be built on land already being used for parking lots Hunt-Bovis, a joint venture of Hunt Construction Group and Bovis Lend Lease, will supervise construction. The Mets will pay about $550 million; New York City will pay out approximately $90 million in capital funds, and New York State will give the team about $75 million in rent credits. The Mets plan to break ground this spring and open for the 2009 season.

Washington D.C.

Critics and fans have given mixed reviews to plans for the Washington Nationals' new ballpark, designed by HOK Sport and the Washington firm Devrouax-Purnell Architects. The 41,000-seat stadium will feature large expanses of glass, and views of the U.S. Capitol beyond the outfield fences. The new park will be situated on the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, and replace the aging RFK stadium, the Nationals' temporary home.

Some critics have suggested that the new stadium is too bland, but part of this may stem from the fact that Major League Baseball (MLB) still owns the team, a year after moving it from Montreal. MLB is expected to sell the team to a new ownership group this spring or summer, and the new owners may change the design.

The District of Columbia will pay about $320 million toward the stadium's construction, with an additional $20 million coming from MLB. Bob DuPuy, the chief operating officer of MLB told the Associated Press, "Of course, if changes are made at the new owner's request and they add to the costs, it would be the new owner's responsibility."

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