Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stadium Report Cards: Wembley Stadium

When I was in England, Ghana and England had a friendly. One of my friends was actually at the game, and we have him to do a report card.

Team: England National Soccer Team
Location: London, ENG, UK
League: UEFA
Built: 2007
Capacity: 90,000
My event: International Friendly, vs Ghana

1. Outdoor Design

Wembley Stadium is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the world. The Old Wembley had the iconic "twin towers", while the New Wembley Stadium has the iconic arch. You see the arch and know you’re at Wembley. Heck, you can even see it from the London Eye miles away.

2. Indoor Design

While there’s nothing too unique about the interior of Wembley, other than the retractable roof, the bowl design allows for every seat to be facing the center of the pitch, and additionally for there to be no poles blocking the views like in the Old Wembley.

3. Prices
The prices were actually fantastic, in my opinion. We sat about 35 rows up behind the goal to the side in the lower bowl for only 25 pounds, which is like $40 a ticket. To see an NFL game here in Indy at those same seats, it’d probably cost $150. So compared to everything else in London too, prices get a good score here.

4. Food
I personally didn’t have anything at the match itself, but there are plenty of different choices for food at Wembley. They have, like, over 600 kiosks in the pace for food, so that’s pretty good as far as most stadiums go.

5. Staff
The staff was very friendly, and it was nice to see that they let the Ghanan fans that hat tickets in the England sections stay there unless there was an issue. When I toured Wembley, the tour guide was very nice and insightful.

6. Cleanliness
Wembley Stadium was top-notch as far as cleanliness goes. Felt like I wasn’t in a stadium with how clean it was, to be honest. Really nice, and a deserved really good score here.

7. Parking
Nobody really parks at Wembley. Of the 80,000 that go to a match at Wembley, I’d say 70,000 at least are taking the Tube (subway) home. The parking is limited, as Wembley’s in a residential area, and those places that you can park are very expensive. Parking is reserved for residents of the area, so everyone drives to a Tube station and takes the Tube to Wembley.

8. Atmosphere
I’d give this a 20/10 if I could to be honest. The best atmosphere I’ve ever been in at a game, and that includes hockey games in Toronto and Montreal as well as 3 Final Four games. Seriously, if there’s one place you’ve gotta go for a game, it’s Wembley.

9. Playing Surface
The pitch at Wembley is top-notch. You can’t beat it. Getting close to it on the tour was really cool, and the grass is beautiful.

10. Scoreboard

The scoreboards at either end of the stadium are just kind of generic, although that’s typical for soccer stadiums, they just tell you the score of the match in essence. But the screens themselves are nice and high quality, just there’s nothing unique about them.

So if I counted that up right, that gives Wembley Stadium an 83, good for third overall on the rankings. I think that’s a bit deceiving, because of the whole parking thing, but hey that’s just me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Summer MLB Tour

I had this idea awhile ago. I interview real fans about their team. I'll ask what the ballpark experience. I want to know what about the ballpark makes the experience, from a fans point of view.

I will get this started sometime soon.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

London's New Digs

If you don't know, the city of London is hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. That means, new things! Yay! The main feature is the 80,000 seat stadium hosting the Track and Field events, opening, and closing ceremonies. The London Olympic Stadium.

That picture is old. They actually completed it when I was in town. They even had a foiled terrorist attack on it. But with a few cleaning supplies, lights, and Christmas spirit, this is what it will look like next summer.

The break down is simple. Field, lower deck, box seats, upper deck, outside design, arches. Easy.

They are not just opining the main focal point of the games. There will be 6 new stadiums in "The Olympic Zone". The Olympic Zone will encompass all of the facilities within the 500 acre Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. This park was developed on existing waste and industrial land. It will include an Aquatics Center...

Basketball arena...

Handball Arena, Cycling Center...

Field Hockey, and finally the Olympic Stadium.

Thats quite a bit of money, but it's cool, so it is worth it. Enjoy it, Brits.

Tropicana Field's New Carpet

Despite the crappy start, the Rays look good on the field. No, I mean like them standing on it looks good. They put in a new rug! It's hard to call it a rug when so much design went into the grass. They played on synthetic turf from 1998-2001. Then they put in astroturf. That got all gross, as you can see below.

Thats the old, here is the new!

Up close, this grass is ridiculous. THey made it as close to normal grass as they could. Here is what I can tell you about it.An upright fiber has the best aesthetics and playability.

  • Fibers that tend to lay over, wear out sooner. The Horseshoe is thicker and stronger, not just at the spine. This creates a more durable field.
  • The Horseshoe fiber is made with the "XQ" polymer. It is tough, but not on athletes. The XQ polymer has been used successfully for years around the globe, and when in combination with proper field fiber density and infill height, has never failed. The same cannot be said for the many failures associated with non-QX polymer, "spined" field fields, especially in high UV areas.
  • Light is properly reflected, resulting in better looking field, both live an on film.
  • Ball roll is similar in performance to natural grass.
  • Low slide resistance is assured, eliminating rug burns.
  • Footing is uniform and predictable.
  • Cleats penetrate and "release" properly for good biomechanical function.

This turf looks good, but is bad luck. 0-5 on it thus far. Yuck.

I have a few London posts coming up!

St. Pete Times Forum Renovations

Since the Bolts' season is over, this is some plans that I never posted.

At one point in his presentation announcing at least $35 million in renovations to the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment CEO Tod Leiweke said, "This building needs help. It hasn't been properly maintained." What is planned, most of which will be done, Leiweke said, by next season but will all be done by the time the Republican convention is in town in August 2012, is a massive makeover.

While Leiweke acknowledged TBSE has had discussions with the county about reimbursement through the tourist tax, he said the team and owner Jeff Vinik are prepared to finance the renovations. Leiweke did have a message to the county, though: "When and if the tourism tax returns, help us safeguard this investment into the future."

The renovations include:

A rebuilt "grand" entrance on the plaza.

Elimination of eight of 28 lower suites, two in each corner, so that fans ion the concourse can see down onto the ice.

Renovating every suite.

Eliminating two entire sections (323 and 324, totaling 574 seats) for the construction of a bar and stage area that will be home to the new pipe organ.

Adding an 11,000 square-foot outdoor deck and party area with a stage that overlooks the plaza.

A new air conditioning and heating system inside the arena.

New lighting inside the arena.

Resurfaced concourses.

All seats replaced; all seats will be padded.

Modernize restrooms.

More concessions areas on the terrace level.

Combining Icons and Medallions restaurants into one venue.

Finally, Leiweke said the renovations will not spark ticket increases.

"This is not a ploy to achieve a double-digit price increase," he said, and added, "At the end of the day, this arena is going to have a great sense of space."

I just copy-pasted this article.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Oval

So the place I stayed while in London had one stadium, and it wasn't even soccer! Reffering to the map in the last post, I was in LA(or Lambeth). No stadium, but there was a cricket ground two blocks away from the apartment. One day I walked around it, and got the picture above.

The stadium was built in 1845(Woah), which the right side of the picture above is from. The old brick foundation dates back to that time, which is pretty remarkable.

But the left side of the second picture was built after the 2002 season, which increased the stadium size to 23,000. That actually makes sense, because I was confused about the dramatic architectural difference while walking around.

I honestly didn't see another stadium. I saw lights to one in Edinburgh, Scotland, but I don't know what that was to.