Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Provactive Questions for MLB 2007: Episode I

In the first of a series of hard-hitting, pulse pounding, goat-getting questions to usher in...at long last...the 2007 MLB season we ask today: “Is Turner Field a generic misfire, a castaway, the red-headed step child of this era’s new stadiums or is it ok?”

This began as an innocent email interchange between Pasqua and I regarding what to name the trophy cup for our fantasy baseball league. Pasqua brilliantly suggested the Lemke Cup after former super-stud Atlanta Braves second baseman Marcus Ignatius Octavius Lemke. What followed was a bloody, rude, crude, sometimes fruit-filled debate about the pros and cons of one Turner Field...
Wait...which stadium is this again? Oh yeah, the Braves...thank God for that logo in centerfield otherwise I would have said Cincinnatti.

Pasqua: You're welcome for the Lemke Cup. Maybe we can bring it to a Braves game and have that short fuc* sign it.

Oh Mark I shall drink frosty brews out of the cup named in your honor at this year's draft

Stanicek: Yeah right - like those "fan friendly" wonks at Turner would let you bring something like that into the stadium. I had to get a full body cavity search and an implanted electro shock chip just to bring in a pen and ask for autographs.
Pasqua: You're an idiot…I love Turner more than a warm crescent roll during a bubble bath with someone’s Grandma. Weird I know.
Stanicek: We'll just have to throw Turner into the "Scrubs" pile of things we will never agree on - I don't like it because of the militant anti-fan atmosphere and lack of any defining or charming characteristics (other than "Its got lots of TVs" and "Its got a HUGE TV!" and "Hey look at that TV") and you like it because you are an Atlanta apologist. So agree to disagree.
You have to question Pasqua's taste cause he doesn't like this either

Pasqua: Yes, you're correct. Turner sure does blow because of how fan friendly it is for kids (I dred the day I have to take my kid to Turner…), and how about those walkways? They're so spacious you don't have to rub up against a 400lb man to get around. How ridiculous is that? Oye vay, and Turner certainly has jacked up ticket prices. I mean $1 seats!!! What kind of lunacy is that???
Stanicek: So the things going for Turner are 1) all the other things to do besides watch baseball and 2) there's lots of room in the walkways. Not exactly glowing reviews. I look for that authentic baseball vibe in a ballpark...sitting down and knowing what stadium and city you are in immediately, the character, the uniqueness...that's what sets great stadiums apart. In Turner there's nothing. No view of the skyline, no distinct features, it is drab and lifeless. Not to mention that they will saw off your hand if you try to get an autograph, watch the starters warm up in the bullpen or take a picture two hours before the game when there are a grand total of 300 people in the entire stadium. As for my kids - there is no way I'm taking them to some arcade in the bowels of the stadium during the game - we will be there to watch baseball.
Pasqua: My kids will be there to watch baseball as well homie. The fact that the tickets are affordable, they offer great discounts for tickets, and there really isn't a bad seat in the house gives Turner a great advantage. You're straight up and down 100% without a doubt completely disastrously wrong about the skyline not being visible from Turner. Sure, it's a horrendous and hideous skyline…but it's there. I also love the bars in the stadium that allow you to stand with a brew in hand and with a huge group of friends. Both of the outdoor bars give you a great view of the field. Give me a distinct feature of LA's stadium? I actually consider the Chophouse and Top of the Chop a distinct feature. If you want to drink with friends at US Cellular, you have to do so in the walkways. Granted, I also consider the big screen a distinct feature…but whatever. You're probably right…it's so much better to watch a replay in your mind than on a 80,000 foot HD big screen. And I've said this before, but US Cellular doesn't let you down onto the lower level AT ALL before or during the game unless you have a lower level ticket. Not the case at Turner…just FYI.
Stanicek: So you are touting Turner based on a ballpark neither of us have ever been to that was built in the 1960s and US Cellular which is one of the crappier stadiums I've ever set foot in. Besides, Turner was JUST built...they had every opportunity to make it distinct, make it interesting and didn't. Sure, Turner is more pleasant than most minor league stadiums and is probably better than Florida's stadium - does that make it better? And sure the skyline (and by skyline I mean the GA Capitol building area, with the tall buildings and what not, not the projects and highways over right-center) may be visible from some seats or the ramps but its not a focal point a la Baltimore. As for the big-screen TV...come on...EVERY stadium has a replay board but I'm supposed to go ga ga for this one because Turner's is 72 feet whereas Texas' is only 68 feet. That just doesn't impress me. I don't go to stadiums for the size of the TV. Finally, the ticket pricing argument is irrelevant - the only reason the prices are so low is because the fans are so lousy. If they ever started selling out the stadium consistently those tickets would skyrocket faster than an Aubrey Huff homer. It's captialism. The Orioles also have very cheap and discounted tickets. What I'm basically getting at is that 1) I've had bad experiences at Turner with the rules/regulations, 2) I expect more from it aesthetically because it was built in the past few years and had the benefit of taking the best points from other stadiums, 3) the designers failed to do that and turned in nothing more than a mediocre at best park, 4) that makes me like it less because of the wasted opportunity, 5) overall its fine but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone doing a tour of stadiums.


Now THIS is a stadium - skyline is a focal point, recognizable immediately and incorporates something unique about the city into the design...and no interstate highways don't count.
Pasqua: Pretty interesting that my cousin, a life-long Cubs fan, says Turner is one of the best stadiums he's ever seen. As has my Uncle, a life-long White Sox fan. So have my relatives from San Diego. The list goes on and on. The fact is, I think it's a gorgeous park from the inside as well as the outside when you're driving along the highway. They had NO OTHER CHOICE but to build it next to the old Fulton County stadium so I can't fault them for what's in the background. When you're in the upper deck you can see all of Atlanta's skyline…really…I think you're wrong on this point. The parking situation is one of the best I've ever seen too. Other stadiums you have to take a train or park in a lot close to the stadium for $50…and I know you'll refute this as being something that doesn't matter…but the fact is that it makes the overall experience more enjoyable. You made no mention of the bars in the outfield…which is the point I harped on most and one of the main reasons I enjoy Turner. It allows you to drink with a group of 20 if you'd like and be able to see the field to follow the game. I've yet to see a stadium that offers something like that to the general public for free. What I'm getting at is that 1) Turner's rules/regulations are actually LESS strict than US Cellular's and I have to imagine other stadiums beefed up security in recent years too 2) I disagree and think it's a very pretty park…especially when you get first glance of the field from the outfield entrance 3) again, agree to disagree 4) they didn't have a choice on location and did the best they could 5) I'd recommend it since there's no other ballparks near Turner except in Florida. PLUS, they have some really fun 7 th inning traditions…”THANK GOD I’M A COUNTRY BOY!!!”

(Editor's Note: The following comment was not part of the original email interchange but because I was the one that posted I get the final word - fair? No.)

Stanicek: Don't even get me started on Turner BLATANTLY STEALING the Baltimore Orioles' 7th Inning Stretch tradition. That's just another nail in Turner's stale, generic, characterless coffin - having no originality or tradition of its own Turner goes out and steals "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" from the Orioles (the song, I should note, is in a National Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit in Cooperstown under Baltimore traditions). As for the bars - granted - they have two bars where you can buy purchase $9 beers to your heart's content and watch the game from some of the worst seats in the house. But seeing as I generally try to avoid spending upwards of $72 for alcohol at baseball games the bars are moot. Finally, this whole skyline issue - I realize they had to build the stadium there but did that prevent them from orienting it so that Atlanta's skyline would be the skyline out over centerfield? I can't count the skyline as a plus for the stadium when the only people who can see it are in the upper deck craning their necks.
Thoughts?

11 comments:

Pasqua said...

I imagine they sell 24oz. beers in Baltimore for $2 and you can drink them in center field next to Corey Patterson...so...you're right. Next thing you're going to say that "Atlanta movie theatres jack up the price of popcorn and candy to $3.50!!! No other theatre in the country does that. I hate Atlanta movie theatres."

Turner Field is probably one of the most accomodating ballparks for 21-35 year olds because of the Chophouse and Top of the Chop. Beer is expensive IN ANY STADIUM...but no other stadium offers a similar outfield bar sans cover charge. That gives Turner the "distinct" feature you are dying for.

The bars are not a moot point...YOU ARE YA MOOT!!!

Stanicek said...

You dinkus - what I was saying is that I don't go to baseball stadiums for the $9 beers so I could care less if they had four bars. I like to sit in my seat, keep score, and soak in the atmosphere - of which Turner has none.

Josh said...

After seeing a game at Shea, I can't imagine complaining about Turner Field. Nicole Richie would sit in those seats and complain about how tight they were. Not to mention the odd metal bars that criss-cross all over the place to keep you from comfortably getting anywhere. And drinking my $9 beers and then urinating them out while standing in a river of piss - yeah, I can overlook some garish Cartoon Network decorations.

I saw a game in Phoenix a couple of years ago, and baseball in a dome doesn't cut it (even if it was 150 degrees outside). The only place I've seen firsthand to outshine Turner Field was in Arlington - no scalpers or bums outside, expensive but not obscenely priced drinks, a good view from damn near anywhere, and damn, it was clean. I remember not even being able to find gum on the sidewalks. Heaven, I tells ya.

Your "stadium grade" really depends on what you're there for. I'm there to see baseball, but I'm also there to have a good time - and the bar scene is important. Also, ease of parking is essential. That's why I'm perfectly happy with Turner. It doesn't have the history of Wrigley or Yankee Stadium, or even the perceived old-fashioned nature of Baltimore (I've been outside the stadium, and it seems to have been done right.) Eh, that's OK, though - it's reasonably priced, located right off the highway, has multiple cool drinking spots, and that girl they hired to be on that big TV is damn talented. Her entire family is that way, I'd imagine.

If only they allowed tailgating tents...

Stanicek said...

Hey I've been to Shea and you're right...it blows. And due to the snarky nature of my comments in the email debate I may not have adequately expressed my view...Turner is fine...it's adequate...nothing more, nothing less. But I find that immensely frustrating considering that it was JUST built and could have been so much more. It's just a generic, clean stadium with good sightlines. Sure it probably ranks a solid 15th, 16th or 17th on the rankings of stadiums but I just wish it was something more and I definitely wouldn't tell someone touring ballparks to stop there...because...why would you except just to check off Atlanta?

adam said...

#1 Being one of the "newest" big cities in the US, Atlanta's skyline isn't done yet.

#2 Is Baltimore even a real city? More like a suburb of DC and Philly...

#3 The Home Depot hammer, paint brush, and saw race is much better on da big screen

Stanicek said...

Please, please devote more building to downtown and the skyline...anything to stop Atlanta's locust-like suburban destruction of Georgia.

There's more charm and character in the pinky nail of one of Baltimore's bums than there is in all of the suburb-dressed-as-a-city you call Atlanta.

adam said...

If Baltimore wasn't surrounded by larger cities and water, it would look just like Atlanta.

Metro Atlanta has no geographic/political impediments holding it in + mild climate + cheap land = widespread development.

Nothing wrong with it, just what it is. Baltimore is older and reflects earlier development patterns, but Atlanta is catching up as it moves away from the mid-to-late-20th century suburban pattern and towards more vertical development.

Baltimore has its fair share of surrounding suburbs, as well.

And a quick perusal of some Census data shows that the quality of life may be higher in the ATL, what! what!:

Median income:
Atlanta - $39K
Baltiwhore - $32K

Pop. w/ bachleor's degree or higher:
Atlanta - 44%
Baltiwhore - 23% (ouch)

Median value of owner-occupied homes:
Atlanta - $218K
Baltiwhore - $103K

adam said...

And getting back to a baseball-related stat:

Atlanta's win total since The Ted opened in 1997:
960

Balti-less' (ha-ha!) win total during the same time:
752

Josh said...

Hey, I've seen "The Wire." I'm scared of Baltimore.

And yes, Stanicek, I remember being disappointed in Turner Field on my first visit for the same reason - it reeked of generic. However, at least they didn't go just haphazardly putting random shit everywhere (jutting walls in left field, f'in hills in center, statues of overrated no-talents like Nolan Ryan) just to make it "original."

Stanicek said...

Hey - my loathing for Atlanta is no secret but I wasn't trying to get in a Holy War here - I was just making the point that I'd rather contract syphillis from a rhesus monkey than watch one inning of baseball at Turner - a little overboard? Maybe - but believe me monkey syphillis is moderate to little fun.

adam said...

Geez. No one ever wants to get in a Holy War. You're no fun.

Aye-yie-yie-yie-yieeeeee!!