The Oakland Athletics released artist renderings of their new stadium plans yesterday. The proposed park, at Howard Terminal, looks incredibly modern. Other than the state-of-the-art architecture, the conceptual ballpark boasts some really cool features. The most creative, in my opinion, is the green space that covers the entire top of the stadium, following the square shape. These mini-lawns would give the stadium a casual, Cape Cod league-type feel for those who enjoy that kind of atmosphere. It’s also surrounded on all sides by courtyards/patios, which would give fans the opportunity to hang out before and after the game, while civilians can roam near the ballpark at all times.
However, there’s a problem… Whoever designed this stadium didn’t consider that baseball would be occurring within the confines of the beautiful construct.
A couple of the artist renderings, courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group, of the A's stadium plans at Howard Terminal announced this morning. pic.twitter.com/eaMYDy7Cf0
— Jimmy Durkin (@Jimmy_Durkin) November 28, 2018
The first and most glaring issue is that there’s no batter’s eye. Hitting a baseball is hard enough as is. A pitcher’s job is to deceive the hitter, and a large part of that is making pitches difficult to see or identify out of the hand. It will make things a hell of a lot harder for hitters if they have to pick the ball up out of a hazy cityscape backdrop which will change colors every fifteen minutes during a night game.
In addition, it appears as though fans will be able to watch the game from field-level in center field. This will only create more distractions for hitters. Plus, and I’m not necessarily mad at this, the A’s will have an advantage, as their fans can wave signs or flashlights while the opposition is batting. It would be like the Cameron Crazies at Duke trying to distract an opposing free throw shooter. God, I hate Duke.
As minor as it may seem the lack of a batter’s eye could lead to something as major as a drop in attendance. The A’s had a great season in 2018, largely due to the long ball. Assuming their success continues, fans will be piling into the stadium to watch the team that finished with the 3rd most homers in the MLB, and the player who led the league in dingers (Khris Davis, 48). At this new stadium, the only thing the A’s will lead the league in is strikeouts. Pitchers duels are certainly appealing to passionate baseball fans, but a 2-1 game with 21 combined K’s isn’t leading to a casual fan’s return.
Conceptually, this is a really cool stadium. For it to be practical, however, some major changes will need to be made. Also, Oakland will have to find a way to finance this mega-project which won’t be completed until 2023. If they can pull it off, this will be one of the top ballparks on my “to visit” list. Until then, I’ll continue adding a K to my stats every time I look at the picture of the new stadium.
Photo: @Jimmy_Durkin on Twitter