Three AL Central clubs announced plans to reconfigure their ballparks over the last two business days.
We’ll start with the White Sox, who revealed what the construction permits concerning the upper level were all about. They announced the creation of two “view bars” near sections 516 and 548, which theoretically provide up-front views with informal seating down the lines of the 500 level.
As I told Josh on today’s podcast, I expected a little bit more, especially when they called them the “view bars.” I thought they were either going to provide a great kind of standing-room situation for watching the game, or a way to see the skyline from the stadiums. Based on the renderings, it looks like any views will be limited to a select few who show up early — assuming the space isn’t already taken by a group.
It’s worth seeing in person before issuing a full judgment, and perhaps you’d see more ambition with a reconfiguration if the stadium’s lease wasn’t set to expire at the end of the decade. At the very least, having some people in the rendering would’ve helped provide some sense of scale.
Case in point: The tweaks at Guaranteed Rate Field certainly pale in comparison to what the Cleveland Guardians announced today for Progressive Field. Basically, they’re turning chunks of the entire stadium into bars.
They showed the plans in a detailed video, and construction is expected to be completed by the 2025 season. (The announcement also covered the Guardians extending their lease at Progressive Field to 2036, so you don’t necessarily need to take 2029 as hard out for the White Sox.)
The bar on the upper deck of the left field side is what I kinda envisioned for Guaranteed Rate Field prior to the announcement, at least with regards to useful standing room.
Among all the ways teams are shrinking seating capacity, this feels the most democratic. Ballparks are already devoting a lot of space to VIP seating and sports books. This at least gives fans an opportunity to create a better game-watching experience even if they’re paying the minimum to get in.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers announced a reconfiguration that only applies to the on-field product. They’re bringing in the center-field fence at Comerica Park, and lowering the walls on the right side.
It’s still going to be among baseball’s bigger outfields, but not quite as cavernous across center field as it was before.
The timing is curious, because they Tigers don’t immediately stand to benefit from the construction the way the Orioles obviously gamed Camden Yards to give their pitchers a better chance at holding up against the Yankees. Whatever homers they may gain would likely be offset by homers allowed.
As for the White Sox, 412-foot center field fence wouldn’t have changed much, because the Sox have made just about all their best straightaway contact count over the last four years, with Ryan Goins the only one who needs to demand a do-over.
But the White Sox have hit a few balls that would’ve been homers were the fences in right-center and right field lowered.
Anything that helps the White Sox get more out of their opposite-field-oriented power helps, and I doubt Andrew Benintendi has any complaints about a slightly friendlier right field at one of the road parks he’ll see most.
The Terrace hub/500 view becomes the Terrace Sportsbook, and they don’t even need to remodel just rename and install the betting machines. Stealthy.
That said, I just will be adding another roadtrip to Progressive when everything is finished. Good times.
Ballpark mgmt: Here is a short range in the outfield to watch the team
FO: Here is a team to watch that is a short, rangy outfielder
If you’re rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, limiting how many people can see the action is a small mercy.
Seriously, who is running this team? Go big or go home, especially when you never even sniff a capacity crowd.
Sniffing isn’t a sense this FO is aware of. The evidence is the shit they keep piling up and ignoring.
Please wipe your shoes on the way out.
Speaking of ballpark makeovers, the Cardinals’ bench is supposedly getting one too:
can we somehow get holliday to come work with our young players, he managed to raise some super star prospect kids…. seems to know what he is doing
When y’all said on the podcast that only a few people would have a good view of the game, I assumed that the other seats would just be further back and the view would be obscured by people. I had no idea that it meant that seats at the bar would be facing a wall. Very funny.
The wall will have a 19″ monitor though.