Monday, August 23, 2010

Giant Start to the Week

Transparency. Space.

Those are two words that came to mind in the first visit to New Meadowlands Stadium.

The design has been criticized for being ‘cold’ and devoid of personality. Yet, the design is about functionality and adaptability than anything else. What would you do if you had to come up with a design for a stadium with two distinctly different full-time tenants, multiple concerts, grand scale soccer matches, college football, state expositions and other potential events like the World Cup and the Super Bowl? You’re going to come up with something more… neutral.

This is certainly the most transparent venue this Scribe has ever visited. Though the aluminum louvers could impede some of the views in the luxury suites that dominate the structure, this is made up for by having unimpeded views of the field and stadium bowl itself. All the attention is directed to either the field or one of the four middle-deck corner screens above; making it easier for all of the 82,000+ fans to keep up with the action.

If this place reminded me of something, there was a slight resemblance (again, slight) to Nationals Park in Washington DC. To visually explain; the cream-colored, monument look to the non-aluminum portions of the fa├žade reminded me of the ballpark on the Anacostia River.

For the media-obsessed, you probably heard about ‘the fishbowl’. The conference room used for post-game press conferences is now a main attraction for anyone lucky enough – connected or loaded – to watch the game in the Coaches Club. The room is no longer shielded by concrete walls and out of the purview of the fans. Instead, it’s incorporated into this field-level deck with three sides of glass decorated with play diagrams. If fans stick around for the extra 15-20 minutes after the end of the game, they can actually watch the post-game conferences live. Some media members unsurprisingly grumbled about this; no longer can they ask stupid questions semi-anonymously as fans can watch the repartee between the media and the team. “Can’t throw stones at a glass house anymore”, one radio reporter perfectly quipped.

Compared to Giants Stadium, NMS is ginormous. As people have come to expect, there’s more of everything: more space, more transport (elevators, escalators), more concessions, more suites, more bathrooms… and more money. If there’s one gripe about the place, it’s there wasn’t enough time to walk throughout the building. In a new venue, however, everyone is still trying to figure out where everything is and it takes time for security and stadium operations personnel to nail every nook & cranny. This may frustrate the hell out of fans and media alike, but as we say this time of year in football media, it’s preseason for everybody (and for NMS, everything).

Pictures of the interior and a comprehensive video will greet you after the second preseason game versus New England on September 2nd. By then, you may have already seen plenty views of NMS, but there’s a reason why you look through these eyes, right?

In the meantime, in other football-related news, yours truly will be a guest host on Sports @ the Half on WHCR. You can listen live at 5PM Eastern thought the website or on 90.3 FM if you're in the Boroughs. Also, for those who care to find it, look for words on the Giants for the Beacon later this week. If you’re in the city and happen to find it at newsstands, put the Snickers down and buy the paper instead.

Meanwhile, enjoy the slideshow.

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