Friday, May 19, 2006

Recap of Today's Sounds Ballpark Design Forum

I attended today's third public forum on the new Sounds ballpark at the Downtown Library. I can honestly say that I left (after an hour) feeling even better about supporting the ballpark initiative than I did before. There are a lot of unique qualities that this ballpark is going to have that aren't the case with so many others, especially the major league parks.

One of the qualities--mentioned by the Sounds official co-presiding over the meeting--was that this ballpark will be built exactly in the fashion that the classic ballparks where: squeezed and shaped to fit an unusual city scape without altering easements or simply creating faux impressions of "throw-back" elements for which there is no reason. For instance, a huge rock-outcropping sits at the lower end of the river bluff beyond what will be the right field corner at the base of the Gateway Bridge. Hence, unlike Angel Stadium at Anaheim, which created a faux rock outcropping in center field, builders of the new Sounds ballpark don't have to create an impression of urban bluffs. And thankfully, they are not removing the outcropping, but incorporating it into the structure of the field and Downtown Greenway itself. According to the speakers, the bluff will afford the best view of Downtown (illustrated in the second picture below) while one watches a game.

Another element unique to this ball park will be the ability of ticketholders to enter at any of the four entrances wrapping around the front facing 1st Avenue and Gateway Boulevard and do so at the same grade level as their seats. This is because the field of play will be sunken 8 to 12 feet below ground level and the grade of the property slopes up from the corner of Demonbreun and 1st to the corner of 1st and Gateway Boulevard, and then slopes up further from the corner of Gateway Boulevard up to the Gateway Bridge. So no matter whether your seats are in the lower bowl or the upper bowl, you can go in an entrance at the same level your seats are without having to take stairs, ramps, or elevators external to the bowl to move down or up. Architecturally, that would seem to me to give the park a snug profile, too.

As you may be able to tell from the pictures I took (to enlarge click on them), the orientation of the park opens out to the Shelby Street Bridge and to the Cumberland River. Even on the undeveloped property now, it is hard to see the river from ground level, so the lower bowl fans will have a better view of the games, but a limited and obstructed view of the river. Upper bowl fans will have better views of the river in exchange for being farther away from the field action. Fans along the 1st base line will have good views of the Shelby Street Bridge and Downtown, especially the higher they sit. Fans along the 3rd base line will have views of the Shelby Street Bridge, river, and East Bank.

The Downtown Greenway will be extended from Riverfront Park up the river along the railroad line and up Rolling Mill Hill. Part of that greenway will from a 12-foot-wide concourse between right field and the river. Since the field will be sunken, there will be no outfield wall to obstruct the line of sight from that concourse. Pedestrians and picnickers on the greenway will be able to view the games unobstructed and with the river at their backs. Unlike Minute Maid Park in Houston, which harkens to its connections with their downtown train station by hoisting an old train engine on some faux tracks suspended above left field, the crowds at Sounds games will be able to watch a real train, the Music City Star, as it departs from and arrives at the new train station at Riverfront Park, again because the field is sunken and there is no wall obstructing the view of the tracks. The left field concourse--cutting from 1st to the greenway--will remain open even on non-game days so that pedestrians can either access the greenway or stop at one of the cafes that will line the leftfield boundary of the ballpark. Also, Demonbreun will be extended from 1st toward the river and a plaza will be built at the boundary of the greenway.

Finally, here's some baseball dimensions: the right field line will be 330' (318' to the wall and then 22' up the rock outcropping; the left field line will be 318' and slope out gradually to 325' in dead left. Officials told the audience a ball hit into the river would have to travel 490'.


  1. The last Sounds game I went to was when they were playing the Iowa Cubs last year. Kerry Wood was making a rehab start and it was on Father's Day. You would think that combination would have resulted in a full house. There could not have been more than 2000 people there. Paid attendance may have been higher, but the park looked almost empty. I just don't see how building a new park is going to result in a three to four times increase in attendance at these games long term. I will be very surprised if after three years the new stadium is not being called disappointing and after six years a debacle. I don't think the town will support it. A single A stadium in a neighboring county would have a much better chance. I kind of just wish they would put a nice riverfront park down there and be done with it. Does everything have to be a development?

  2. Hey, I was there too! (on the other side)

    I looked for pictures of the stuff they presented on the civic design center site, but I couldn't find anything.. they should put all that stuff online..

  3. Thanks for the information and the pics. Coming from Memphis I have seen what a well-designed ballpark can mean to a city. If the new Sounds stadium is half as nice as Autozone in Memphis, (and from the looks of it it will be as good or better) it will mean as much to Nashville as the Preds.

  4. Nashville keeps putting up with more and more boondoggles. But hey, as long as Nashville likes bankrolling Bud Adams, S-town Mike can keep bitching about gangs and the rest of Nashville's maladies.

    I don't pay $6.00 to go see the Sounds now, why would I want to drive downtown and pay more plus overpriced parking.

    Sounds stadium - what a complete waste of money.

  5. I'll have to hand it to gutsy Anonymous. That was about the dumbest comment ever posted to Enclave. Bud Adams does not own the Sounds. He owns the Titans and worked a deal with Bredesen that was a boondoggle.

    Purcell, on the other hand, kept professional baseball in Nashville for a measily $250,000 more a year. That's the best deal between a professional francise and a municipality that I've ever seen. The only other option would have been no baseball in Nashville period. Now that would have been a Nashville malady.

  6. S-town, youre dumber than you seem and missed the argument completely. I'm using Bud Adams (owner of the Titans - DUHHHHHHH!) as an example of the perpensity to keep making the same stupid mistake, in addition to the stadium fiasco and the GEC *hostage agreement*.

    By the way, the Sounds may be here, but there's no baseball in Nashville.

  7. I only wish I had more time in the day to entertain anonymous commenters, but alas I don't. Come back to the discussion when you get a proper identity and we'll talk about how dumb I seem, let alone how dumber I am.

  8. That's it, keep using some other excuse, in this case an anonymous comment, to keep from having to answer any real question.

    You have no answer to any of the big picture items mentioned above, only profess how cool it will be to have a new stadium without thinking through all of the details.

    Meanwhile you whine about resources to guard your precious Germantown (like you discovered it) against thugs and gangsters, all the while bitching about every little aspect of the crappy schools in that area.

    Hey I've got an idea S-town, how would you like to go in with me in the restaraunt business, say maybe a Hard Rock Cafe, Mere Bulls, or NASCAR cafe downtown????