The 2015 Major League Baseball season officially gets underway on April 6th with 14 games across the United States. Two of those games – the Toronto Blue Jays taking on the New York Yankees and the New York Mets squaring off against the Washington Nationals – will be played in Thornton Tomasetti-designed stadiums with a combined 91,060 seats for fans eager to take in the action.
After playing at the House that Ruth Built for 85 years, the Yankees moved across the street in 2009 to a stadium that revived many of the design themes that were stripped from the original during its 1974 renovation. The new stadium includes signature design features such as a 500-foot-wide scoreboard/video board with cantilevered end bays, and a suite level and upper deck seating that cantilevers 50 feet beyond the main level concourse, creating unobstructed views. It also doesn’t hurt that quite a few of the Thornton Tomasetti engineers who worked on the stadium happen to be die-hard Yankee fans.
About four hours south of the Bronx down the I-95 is Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals. The one-million-square-foot ballpark, built in just 23 months, relied on a Tekla Structures 3D building information model that was transferred to the steel subcontractor. It features an innovative glass exterior that reflects the architectural heritage of the nation’s capital. It also achieved LEED Silver status in 2008, becoming the first professional sports stadium in the United States to do so.
There’s more to come after opening day as well. On April 9th the San Francisco Giants head south to take on the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park; the Anaheim Angels host the Royals on April 10th at Angel Stadium; the Pittsburgh Pirates open their 14th season at PNC Park on April 13th against the Detroit Tigers; and last, but certainly not least, the defending World Series Champion Giants will raise the championship banner at AT&T Park on April 13th against the Colorado Rockies. That’s a lot of Thornton Tomasetti-designed ballparks.
Through renovations or investigations we’ve left our mark on other MLB stadiums as well. In 1999 we provided emergency response services and conducted a structural failure investigation and collapse analysis of a 500-foot tall mobile crane that collapsed onto the seating bowl of Miller Park, the new home for the Milwaukee Brewers. We returned to Miller Park three years later and developed a series of 3D graphical simulation models and finite element assemblages to help replace the pivot bearings of the five movable roof panels. A decade ago we assisted HKS Architects with renovations to U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. The project included modifications to the baseline seating configuration, upgrading the main concourse level, adding 600 new club seats behind home plate and a new grand entrance in left field. In 2009 we helped Populous with a $250 million renovation at Kauffman Stadium—home to the Kansas City Royals—including the design of a new 85-foot-wide by 140-foot-tall high-definition scoreboard utilizing BIM technology. Renovations and the new video board at Chicago’s Wrigley Field earned rave reviews from the newspaper’s architecture critic Blair Kamin, who noted our role as structural engineer on the project.
With so much baseball running through our veins, there’s bound to be some inter-office rivalries, most recently surrounding the 2014 World Series between the Royals and Giants which involved some (mostly) polite banter between our Kansas City and San Francisco offices.
Whether as engineers working behind the scenes or planted in the seats as lifelong fans, we enjoy our strong connection with America’s favorite pastime. We’ll see you out there this season. Play ball!
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