A Comparison of the Old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore VS. The New M & T Stadium Also Located in Baltimore

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Introduction

 

The United States’ Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland was a home to the Baltimore Ravens between 1996 and 1997, the Baltimore Colts from the year 1954 to 1983, the National Football League (NFL) team, as well as the Major-League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles between 1954 and 1991 (Eggener, 2012). The Baltimore Memorial Stadium was also a home to the Baltimore Stallions from the year 1954 to 1987. The Baltimore Memorial Stadium got demolished in the year 2002 after which a new baseball field got constructed on the same site (Eggener, 2012). The newly constructed baseball field got nicknamed “The Old Grey Lady of 33rd Street, ” and it became the Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum globally due to its infamous noise from the fans (Vardon, 2011). On the other hand, the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, United States is a multipurpose football stadium and the home to National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens (Chapin, 2004). The stadium got opened officially in 1998, and it currently forms of the country’s most praised stadia in the National Football League due to its fan amenities, concessions, and ease of access, among other facilities (Chapin, 2004). This paper provides a comparison of the Old Memorial Stadium versus the New M&T Bank Stadium, both located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

Design Characteristics of the Old Memorial Stadium

The Old Memorial Stadium got opened on December 2nd, 1922 (first version) and got re-opened on 20th April 1950 (second version) (Vardon, 2011). Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the Old Memorial Stadium lies at the coordinates of 39°19′46″N 76°36′5″W and owned by the City of Baltimore (Cohen & Mathew, 2010). The stadium gets operated by the Maryland Stadium Authority and has had varying capacities of 31,000 in 1950, 47,855 in 1953, and 53,371 since 1991 (Vardon, 2011). The stadium has a field size of 309 feet to the left, 378 feet at the left-center, 405 feet center field, 378 feet right-center, and 309 feet to the right. Additionally, the surface of the Stadium has a grass cover (Cohen & Mathew, 2010). The stadium got closed on 14th December 1997 in readiness for its demolition in 2002. It then got reconstructed at the cost of US$6.7 million (about 64.7 million dollars in 2017 dollars) (Vardon, 2011). Figure 1 below shows photos of the Old Memorial Stadium.

As designed by the L.P. Kooken Company, the general layout of the Old Memorial Stadium, to a great extent, resembles a scaled down version of the Cleveland Stadium wich is the home to the NFL Browns and the MLB Indians (Cohen & Mathew, 2010). The Stadium’s playing field was initially large due to the need accommodate a football field on its premises. However, the outfield size got reduced after the construction of the inner fences. The faul ground also got reduced following the addition of several box-seats rows, a step which made the stadium to appear like a hitters’ park and very different from its original appearance (Cohen & Mathew, 2010).

The Old Memorial Stadium is a reinforced concrete stadium whose construction followed two main stages. Located in the Waverly neighborhood of Baltimore, the two-deck, horseshoe-shaped stadium stands at the center of a thirty-three-acre site (Eggener, 2012). The Old Memorial Stadium resulted from two primary building campaigns and several improvements. The stadium’s original reinforced concrete lower level got constructed in 1950 while the upper deck together with the stadium’s exterior façade got added between the end of 1953 and the start of 1954 (Eggener, 2012). The face of the stadium’s reinforced concrete upper deck is held or supported by several concrete pylons. Additionally, the back of the upper deck is supported by several rectangular concrete piers that have flared caps. The stadium’s mezzanine seating level hangs from the upper level’s edge, and the nine boxed spiral ramps provide access to the stadium’s upper deck (Eggener, 2012).

The stadium’s façade rises to the mezzanine level walkway and consists of a wall made of poured reinforced concrete columns, as well as beams infilled with concrete blocks (Vardon, 2011). The stadium’s exterior face has a finishing of bricks laid in a ratio of 5:1 common bond. Besides, the entrance ramps’ exterior, as well as the ventilation openings have pre-cast, pale yellow blocks finishing (Vardon, 2011). The cast stone and brick façade features indicate a dedication to all Americans who participated in the world wars, executed in modern stainless steel lettering with an aluminium city seal (Vardon 2012). The stadium’s exterior got modified in the year 1984 through the inclusion of four symmetrical quadrangular-shaped components, as well as an additional two-story office building, which serves as the stadium’s new primary entrance (Vardon, 2012).

The stadium’s playing field extends from the main stadium structure to the north, and it has a paved asphalt parking lot that surrounds the stadium with a capacity of 2,500 vehicles (Cohen & Mathew, 2010). The original design of the stadium had aluminium benches in the stands as well as team locker rooms, meeting rooms, trainer’s room, and weight rooms, all located near the 33rd Street entrance, below the stands (Cohen & Mathew, 2010). The stadium has restrooms and concessions located on the lower level’s promenade as well as a full-service restaurant directly behind the 33rd Street entrance. However, some of such rooms no longer have various essential equipment (Cohen & Mathew, 2010). The stadium also has indoor batting and throwing cages located under the east half of its structure with the stadium’s west half housing the football locker rooms, delivery entrance, and the team rooms (Eggener, 2012).

The stadium’s baseball dugouts have players’ benches which are steam-heated, and the waiting pitchers in the bullpens have wire-mesh protection mounted on wood frames (Eggener, 2012). Additionally, the stadium’s baseball diamond’s left-center field has a metal scoreboard that got installed in the year 1970. Two seating sections got included at opposing ends of the stadium’s upper deck in 1964, and the inclusion of escalators provided easy access to the new seating sections. The pedestrian paths that lead to the original entrance of the stadium have demarcations of ornamental shrubs, and the same plantings appear along the stadium’s façade (Eggener, 2012).

The Old Memorial stadium underwent several modifications in the years 1961, 1964, as well as 1985 and went through continuous improvements throughout its occupancy (Vardon, 2011). Its original design underwent several changes with the aim of lengthening its useful life. The stadium has, however, not been put into full use since the year 1997, and most of the components that gave it its true definition such as the playing field and the last scoreboard are no longer in place (Vardon, 2011). While the Old Memorial Stadium formed the site for major sports events as well as a remarkable site in Baltimore’s history, the stadium’s design underwent continuous modifications during its use. Besides, the stadium does not have the integrity qualities as well as the exceptional importance defined by the country’s National Register of Historic Places (Eggener, 2012).

Design Characteristics of the M&T Bank Stadium

The M&T Bank Stadium also belongs to the Maryland Stadium Authority, and it gets operated by the Baltimore Ravens. It has a capacity of 17,008 people with a grass-covered surface (Williams, 2016). The stadium got opened on 6th September 1998 after having been constructed at the cost of US$ 220 million (about 323 million dollars in 2017 US dollars). The stadium got designed by the Populous Company and originally featured a natural grass surface before the installation of an artificial grass surface in 2003 (Williams, 2016). The artificial grass surface later got replaced in 2010 by a new-generation Sportexe Momentum 51. In 2016, the stadium’s management re-introduced the natural grass playing surface. Figure 2 below shows photos of the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (Williams, 2016).

The M&T Bank Stadium has five levels, which include the club level, lower bowl, 400 suites level, 300 Suites level, and the upper bowl (Chapin, 2004). The lower bowl has forty-two rows of seats, divided into two sections. The seats that lie under the tunnel entrances have numbered labels from 1 to 18, while the labels of the seats above the tunnel entrances range from 19 to 42 except sections 123 to 130. Sections 123 to 130 comprise rows 19 to 35 due to the sideline space taken by the press box (Chapin, 2004). The rows have labels from 1 to 13 on the club level, on the sidelines, and labels 1 to 17 at the corners where there is no location of suites. The sideline seats have labels from 1 to 32 in the upper bowl, and the rows range from 1 to 26 in the end zones of the upper bowl (Wish, 2016). The seat widths for the stadium’s upper and lower bowl vary from 19 to 21 inches due to the stadium’s curve design. Additionally, the seat widths of the padded club seats range from 21 inches to 23 inches (Wish, 2016).

The M&T Bank Stadium is 185 feet high, about 35 feet above the Oriole Park. The Stadium has two Ravens Vision video screens, located in each of the stadium’s end zones (Chapin, 2004). The stadium stands as the first United States’ existing outdoor professional sports facility to receive the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)’s Gold rating. Every Ravens Vision high definition screen measures 100 feet wide and 24 feet in height, translating a 1,234-inch diagonal television screen (Chapin, 2004). Additionally, about 2,5 million individual LEDs (light emitting diodes) provide the images on the stadium’s two giant screens, thereby giving pictures of the highest quality at both the night events and the brightest sunlight conditions (Williams, 2016).

The screens at the M&T Bank Stadium provide high definition views, which provide some of the best game action videos and graphics in the league, as well as statistics, instant replays, scores, and live game highlights from around the National Football League (Wish, 2016). The two giant screens also have modular LED panels, each measuring 12.6 by 15.l inches. Besides, the stadium has a control room that can allow the high definition screens to work at peak quality (Wish, 2016).

The stadium’s front row seating in the lower deck lies six feet above the playing field, thus putting it at a level high enough to eliminate any issue relating to obstructed views (Williams, 2016). Additionally, the front row is at a distance of fifty feet from the sidelines of the playing field, and twenty feet from the back of the stadium’s end zones (Williams, 2016). The stadium’s unique upper seating area comprises open notches in every corner of the stadium, which allows for scenic views of the City of Baltimore (Wish, 2016).

Having a seating capacity of 71,008, the M&T Bank Stadium is noticeably larger than the Old Memorial Stadium. Occupying a space of 1.6 million square feet, the M&T Bank Stadium is about double the size of the Old Memorial Stadium (Chapin, 2004). Besides, every deck of the M&T Bank Stadium has special seating for the disabled (Chapin, 2004). The stadium’s 8,196 club seats provide extra-wide comfort together with access to the club lounges that serve specialty foods, VIP parking, concierge services, fully-staffed bars, as well as good downtown Baltimore’s scenic views (Wish, 2016). Additionally, each of the Stadium’s 128 suites accommodates between 20 to 24 people and contains three televisions, personal wait-staff service, VIP parking, and a private restroom among other amenities available to suit the holders (Wish, 2016).

The Ravens enhanced the fan experience at the M&T Bank Stadium by improving its concession stands, video boards, and all the concourses at the stadium. All the stadium’s 16 lower concourse concession stands got upgraded so as to improve the service speed, as well as the quality and freshness of food, much of which get prepared in front of the fans (Wish, 2016). Other concession improvements at the stadium include the provision of digital menu boards and extra-wide concourses (44 to 64 feet), which allow for ease of fan movement. The M&T Bank Stadium also has several ramps, seven public elevators, as well as two escalators (to the club level) which assist in easing the fan traffic (Williams, 2016). Additionally, the stadium’s club level design features a historical perspective on Baltimore’s football, highlighting great teams, games, as well as players from the rich football history for the area (Williams, 2016).

Sited at 1101 Russell Street, the M&T Bank Stadium borders the Hamburg St. bridge to the North, the Ostend St. bridge to the South, the Light Rail line to the East, and Russell St. bridge to the West. The stadium is easily accessible to the fans by mass transit, and the Light Rail has a drop-off point for fans situated directly outside Gate B of the stadium (Chapin, 2004). The stadium’s parking lots are limited to permit holders. However, the downtown parking garages are just a short walk away and are available for gameday parking (Williams, 2016). After the passing of the iconic QB Johnny Unitas in the year 2002, the Ravens erected the Colt’s legend statue outside the stadium’s Gate A. Another statue of former LB Ray Lewis got unveiled in 2014 as a remembrance of the Baltimore’s greatest defender in the country’s NFL history (Williams, 2016).

Conclusion

Despite having several similarities, the Old Memorial Stadium and the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore have a broad range of differences. The design and construction of the Old Memorial Stadium based on old technologies, which makes the stadium unsuitable for most modern games. Unlike the Old Memorial Stadium, the M&T Bank Stadium got designed and constructed using the most recent technologies that satisfy the expectations of both the fans and the players. The seating capacity of the M&T Bank Stadium is significantly larger than that of the Old Memorial Stadium, making it the most preferable for most modern outdoor games, especially football. While the Old Memorial Stadium remains as the site of remarkable sports events in Baltimore’s history, its integrity as a sports facility had been compromised despite various modifications. However, notwithstanding the differences between the two stadia, they both remain significant contributors to the Baltimore’s sports development and growth.

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