When the architect set out to design Citi Field for the New York Mets, the firm borrowed heavily from both the architecture of a classic stadium and the construction components from a nearby modern arena. Indeed, the design of the baseball-only, $800 million venue will likely elicit memories of Ebbets Field, home of the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, which was demolished in 1960. But when 45,000 Mets fans file into Citi Field on opening day 2009, they probably will not recognize that the precast concrete tubs to which their seats are bolted are nearly identically to those used about 20 miles southwest in Newark. Citi Field will incorporate over 250,000 square feet of precast grandstands engineered, manufactured and installed by High Concrete Group LLC.
In designing precast tubs for Citi Field, High Concrete Group adapted existing forms to reduce lead time and speed up the manufacturing timetable. All tub modifications, including self-stressing work, were done in-house at High facilities. In addition, complex tub and riser forms specifically for Citi Field were created from wood with the same painstaking craftsmanship exhibited in the existing forms. Overall, the precast grandstand risers were produced with a high level of quality and consistency only available with factory fabrication. Precast concrete eliminates uncontrollable weather delays that can plague large construction sites. And because precast concrete arrives on the job site ready to erect, it can help keep the project team on schedule and on budget.
The architect has designed and renovated 13 of the 30 Major League ballparks in use today, including and seven of the last eight to open. The firm has spearheaded a movement that combines the enduring architecture of traditional baseball stadiums with modern amenities expected by today’s fan.
Citi Field is no exception. It uses several classic design elements from Ebbets Field including brick and limestone arches with keystones and arched mullions in the glass. The exterior façade is punctuated by granite and limestone pilasters topped with decorative capitals and bronze commemorative plaques. A new entry rotunda, also reminiscent of Ebbets Field, will be named for and feature a statue of Jackie Robinson, hailed as the first African-American to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
Forty-two percent of the ballpark’s seats will be located in the concourse (or lowest) seating level. The contoured seating configuration enabled by the precast promises to bring spectators closer to the field on all levels. The precast seating design follows optimal sightlines for a more intimate and entertaining experience throughout the park.
It could be said that something old (Ebbets Field) and something new (Citi Field) will join with something borrowed (tub designs) and the Mets’ royal blue to forge a new marriage between team and a timeless stadium. While New Yorkers hope th1e ring that accompanies the union quickly bears the words “World Series Champions,” what is certain is that Citi Field’s precast concrete structure will be celebrated for decades.