THE ROYAL BOX

 

During “Wimbledon Fortnight” this wood-lined, 100-seat section of Wimbledon’s Centre Court found itself the focus of major tabloid attention. Seems there were some intriguing tennis fans in this Royal Box. They were, not surprisingly, Royal: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and Pippa), Prince Charles and his wife Camilla; political: Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson; sporty: Victoria and David Beckham, Andre Agassi and Stefi Graf, England Manager Roy Hodgson; and aging entertainer: TV presenter Bruce Forsythe. The Royal Box indicates who/what is important at any given moment and its occupants represent a fascinating cross-section of British culture. As in Roman times, this stratification of seating in Wimbledon brings political leadership into public view and the buzz about “how they will react/interact (or not)” is arguably as exciting as the event itself.

America could use a Royal Box. Such a partisan culture would benefit from a space in which oppositional leaders could come together and watch sport in public view. One could argue that the court-side ticket to a basketball game similarly puts the important fan on a stage. It is fun watching Spike Lee talk trash with Will Smith at the Knick/Sixer games. President Obama drinking a beer at a Wizards game is always interesting to see.  Strangely, important people at baseball and football games often sit in luxury boxes, hidden from public view, able to sneak in and out at their convenience. Putting leaders in a wood-lined box for all the world to see formalizes the visit and forces them to sit and watch sport together.  Bringing people together, what better purpose for sport and architecture?