Schulman: Should we already deride the donut stadiums?

From Ben Schulman at The Hardball Times on August 23, 2019:

When Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in Baltimore in 1992, it marked a turning point for baseball—and for American cities. Camden was a recreation of the classic pre-war neighborhood ballpark. With its tight urban siting, pedestrianized thoroughfare, and dramatic downtown views, Camden recycled not only elements of the physical landscape—most prominently, the B&O Warehouse out beyond right field—but the history of baseball in cities itself.

Through Camden, Baltimore was saying that baseball would be, once again, of a place. It was a forward-thinking stroke through retrograde design, a cue to a certain monied populace that downtowns were again places of leisure and entertainment and safe to congregate.

Other cities got the message. Since Camden opened, baseball has gauzily basked through nearly 30 years of nostalgic architecture, repurposing history for something that feels contemporarily authentic. Popular and critical opinion has generally expressed a preference for the neo-retro ballpark, inspiring praise of baseball’s timeless place in the city while almost universally deriding the soulless Modernism of the concrete donut stadium. This sentiment is finding new, nuanced expression in architecture critic Paul Goldberger’s latest book, Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, which picks up on classics like Phil Bess’ City Baseball Magic.

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Originally published: August 26, 2019. Last Updated: August 26, 2019.