Seattle’s floating baseball field and other stadiums that never made it

This proposed baseball and football stadium would have floated on Elliott Bay in Seattle. Fly balls would have been a great adventure for outfielders who would have played there. (From the Seattle Municipal Archives)

Thanks to Greg Ponder — my wife’s brother-in-law, my Spring Training ticket supplier and one of the biggest baseball fans I know — for sending me this Slate.com slideshow of sports stadiums that never got built. The featured designs are testaments to the issues involved with getting stadiums from the conceptual phase to construction, from securing funding and public buy-in to making unusual ideas work.

My absolute favorite design is the floating, retractable-roof stadium that was proposed for Seattle in the early 1960s to attract pro baseball and football teams to the city. According to the Seattle Municipal Archives, the stadium would have floated on Elliott Bay, blocks from the site of the 1962 World’s Fair — “if a way could be found to keep the playing field level.” For some strange reason, a funding referendum got shot down in 1966, partly over “questions about the project’s feasibility.”

That stadium would have been a spectacular home-field advantage for a baseball team (especially one named the Mariners). Hitting a 99 mph Randy Johnson fastball in the Kingdome in the 1990s was already tough enough. Could you imagine visiting hitters flailing at that pitch while trying to get their sea legs under them?

A couple of other unbuilt stadiums in the slide show that are definitely worth checking out are a proposed replacement for the Rays’ Tropicana Field and Edmonton’s Omniplex, which would have featured a football field suspended in midair over a hockey rink.

Meanwhile, for some coming attractions, check out Qatar’s planned stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. If these stadiums turn out as well as they look in the artist renderings, they might at least somewhat make up for FIFA denying the U.S. the right to host the Cup in a suspect bidding process.

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2 Responses to Seattle’s floating baseball field and other stadiums that never made it

  1. GregPonder says:

    Thanks Jeremy…you’re way too kind. I’m just a kid who grew up walking a mile and back to the paperbox each day just to check out boxscores and maybe catch a glimpse of Tony Gwynn on the game of the week each Saturday while listening to Joe Garagiola and Vin Scully.

    If baseball is a way of life, then spring training is a rite of passage, a necessary pilgrimage if you will. It is a privilege to be able to head to Arizona and Florida with the eternal optimism that each spring provides.

    Each February, everyone starts out 0-0 and has a chance. Anyway, it’s a beautiful thing and there is nothing like getting down to Spring Training after a long winter and grabbing a beer and a dog under sunny 80 degree skies with your old man and talking about how good Brooks Robinson was or how unlikable A-Roid is.

    As for the stadiums that never were…some of them were so far fetched that they would have been foolish to actually build…others lead you to wonder what great jobs architects must have. Ahh, to dream…I suppose hope springs eternal in numerous ways. Can’t wait to board that flight to Disney’s Wide World of Sports on Wednesday!

  2. edmonton…

    Seattle’s floating baseball field and other stadiums that never made it « Instead of Texting…

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