Feature Article - July 2010
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Design for the Big Time

Latest Stadiums Mix History, Technology and Intimate Fan Experience

By Daniel P. Smith

Citi Field
Location: New York
Home Team: New York Mets
Opened: April 2009
Seating: 42,000, including 54 suites

With the opening of Citi Field for the 2009 baseball season, the Mets, long the second team in a two-team town, once again battled the Yankees for headlines. Citi Field, however, earned plenty of its own acclaim.

A blend of modern-day comforts and historic charm, including the Mets' legendary Home Run Apple, the Queens-based Citi Field mixes brick, limestone, granite and cast stone to create a dramatic design. The stadium's main entry is highlighted by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a space reminiscent of historic Ebbets Field, the beloved former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Most notably, the stadium brings new life to game day for fans and players alike. Contoured seating brings spectators closer to the action with nearly half of the stadium's 42,000 seats (15,000 less than the Mets' former Shea Stadium home) in the lower concourse. The Fan Fest family entertainment area, an outfield picnic area, multiple party decks and an interactive Mets museum all invite family-friendly entertainment. Citi Field also hosts five clubs and restaurants.

"Citi Field is a direct reflection of Mets fans," said Ben Barnert, senior principal with Populous. "It's a warm ballpark, an intimate ballpark full of references to what makes New York such a grand city that creates an energy that will draw Mets fans back time and again."

Cowboys Stadium
Location: Arlington, Texas
Home Team: Dallas Cowboys
Opened: June 2009
Seating: 80,000 for football with potential to hold more than 100,000; includes 300 suites, 48 at field level

For the design of the new Cowboys Stadium, arguably the most anticipated and hyped stadium in years, Dallas-based HKS Inc. combined modern, progressive architecture alongside elements of the old Texas Stadium's heritage, such as the shape of the roof's opening and the Ring of Honor.

The $1.1 billion Cowboys Stadium hosts a range of innovative design features, including: a 660,800-square-foot retractable roof supported by two monumental metallic arches; the world's largest retractable end zone doors; an 86-foot-high canted glass exterior wall; a pair of end zone plazas that serve as year-round gathering spaces; and sideline field suites. The highlight of Cowboys Stadium, however, is the much-discussed center-hung, four-sided HD video board, which covers 160 feet and extends between the two 20-yard lines.

Covering 73 acres and 3 million square feet, the expansiveness of the stadium is countered by a fan-friendly viewing environment. From the HD video board and open end zone viewing platforms to suites that are closer to the field than any other NFL venue, the new Cowboys Stadium was designed with the fan in mind.

"The Cowboys are one of the most recognized sports brands in the world, and the challenge was to replicate that popularity," said Mark Williams, principal with HKS. "We worked to understand the DNA of the Cowboys and to create a unique venue that replicated the Cowboys spirit, which has been an innovative team of firsts."