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Friday, July 10, 2009

Camden Yards

I don't disagree with this, but some commenters here might. And I like the O's.


At 5:10 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Finally got a chance to read that Camden Yard piece after home internet kinks got worked out. Man was that lame. How about a few other articles: 10 Things I Hate About Juicy Steaks!, Why Kittens Suck!, George Washington Was an Asswipe! Santa Is Killing Your Children!

OK, so let's break it down. Dude is upset b/c Camden Yards kicked off a trend of retro stadiums that failed to restore rust belt cities to their former glory. Well, what the hell would have? Maybe they over-promised. Wah. The Orioles replaced a decent but mediocre stadium with a spectacular one, a park so exceptional it inspired a lot of other cities to get rid of their astroturf and dome hellholes and replace them with beautiful, idiosyncratic, center-city stadiums. I'm sure there's something to complain about there, but you have to work pretty hard.

The park is overpriced. OK, you can have that one. And the Orioles suck. Yes, but how this relates to Camden Yards I'm not sure. George Bush was a shitty president, but I don't think it's because the White House is a shitty building, which it is not.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

It's interesting the attitude towards history in the article--quirky stadiums are okay if they're 60+ years old? Plumbing shouldn't work in stadiums? Handicapped folks shouldn't be able to watch the game because the building hasn't been updated, or only updated poorly? Stained concrete is an aesthetic we should preserve for posterity?

Camden is a symptom of larger changes in the relationship between capitalism, politics, and sport, but what's positive about the park is that at least it produced an awareness of design, an attention to details such as spectator distance from the game, sightlines, aesthetic qualities like the greenery behind center field. Yes, the convention center hotel is horrid and blocks the view, but in some ways it proves my point: that was a terrible use of boom dollars, politician influence, and city planning. Camden was at least paying attention--public transport links, walking-distance to many poorer neighborhoods, and yes, walking-distance to the chain-heaven that is the Inner Harbor. But without that veneer, wealthier Baltimoreans of all races wouldn't feel safe taking their kids to the games, and everyone would lose.

Coors Field in Denver revitalized a light industrial area on the railroad tracks, made them clean up the Platte River that runs through town, and was matched by the move of the old theme park into the inner city (thereby forcing the clean up of a leach-pit where the rail coal traffic ran). Downtown Denver went from a place no one ever went (except from 9-5 in business high rises) to a place that is now the center of town. Yes, this wasn't all because of Coors Field, and yes, the frat boy pseudo micro-brew atmosphere of what is now LoDo is a bit much, but I can walk to a free bus that takes me to the ballpark, watch a game facing the setting sun behind the mountains, a vegetation-filled center field (with fountains that jump when the Rockies hit a homerun) and have a nice evening/afternoon for much less money than any other professional sport out there.

There are plenty of urban planning nightmares to complain about. Camden Yards and its spin-offs are not, I think, in the top 47.

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

I think the 'quirky is OK if old' point with respect to ballparks is that old ballparks often had quirks because they 'had to': an irregular shape (short RF fence) because a train track was there, and they built the stadium in, for example. New ballparks are usually built to order, with no land use issues 'forcing' quirks. So 'hey, this ballpark is assymetrical, because . . . that's cool.' Also remember that older ballparks tended to get built and then grow, change, get re-built over time, so they were monstrosities of a different order.

Clearly, Camden is a great ballpark. I, personally, love it. I also took the bar exam in the conference center/hotel in the outfield, and I could see the stands as I was taking the exams--so the place has a special meaning for me.

I love Camden Yards. And I watch a lot of Orioles on the teevee. I am the world's number 1 Aubrey Huff fan. I love that guy. I love, love, Camden Yards.

But it is the Disneyfication of ballparks. Disney can be fun. It can make you cry ('Old Yella'), etc., etc. But it's still Disney.


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