An architect and avid sports fan, I grew up going to Shea Stadium in Queens, NY, a flawed yet inspiring building which sparked my interest in the New York Mets, in architecture and ultimately in the architecture of sport. Stadiafile links my profession to my pastime as I take a critical perspective on the built environment of sport.
Perhaps because my first spectator experience was at the troubled yet beloved Shea, I am able to find the good in most stadiums I visit. Conversely, as an architect I am often frustrated with the mediocrity of so many sports facilities. So, I have never been to a venue that I don’t love some part of and that I can’t find some fault in. I really enjoyed the Kingdome in Seattle; almost universally detested, I adored going to Mariners games as a kid on summer holiday. How could you not be in awe of such a huge space? The Kingdome was wider than the Seattle Space Needle is tall! It had the largest concrete roof in the world; it was a multi-purpose, brutally modern building and I loved it. On the flip side, I found Yankee Stadium underwhelming. I found “The House that Ruth Built” cramped and cold. The upper bowl was uncomfortably steep, the seats under the upper deck dark and dismal and the inner walkways with their nine-foot-high ceilings banal – incongruous with the home of the great New York Yankees.
Every stadium I go to – every one – I get an excited sensation in my gut. I had it the first time I went to Shea Stadium as a kid; I had it at Autzen Stadium as a college student; I had it when I went to the Knick game last month. It’s an excitement that keeps me returning to stadiums for an afternoon out and as a topic to ponder and discuss.