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.