Well, we know what we want for Christmas: the holiday gift guide from the Robb Report features a custom $30-million stadium that can be converted between baseball, football, soccer or pretty much any sport.
The premise from this Populous offer: that with the right amount of money, stadium technology can create pretty much any sporting experience you can imagine. What is being proposed isn’t a real ballpark, but an electronic facsimile of a ballpark. But hey, for a generation brought up drooling over the prospect of a Holodeck from ST:TNG, this ballpark facsimile is pretty darned cool.
Ryan Sickman, an engineer and associate principal at Populous, envisions a 40- to 50-yard playing field surrounded by LED screens that stand from 12 to 20 feet tall so that “you feel enclosed in the environment,” he says. Together the screens will project a backdrop that depicts almost any legendary sports venue, filled with digitally conjured fans. Want to play Wiffle ball at a sold-out Fenway Park, two-hand touch football at Lambeau Field, or soccer at Wembley Stadium? It will be virtually possible. “Is it doable?” Sickman asks rhetorically. “Yes. It just hasn’t been done before.”
Fiber-optic lighting embedded in the FieldTurf, the artificial-grass surface used at multiple NFL stadiums, will make the stadium a multiuse facility that instantly changes from one type of game field to another. Flip a switch, and the field transforms from a baseball diamond to a football gridiron, complete with team logos in the end zones. A professional-grade sound system will pipe in the cheers of Cheeseheads, the crooning of “Sweet Caroline” from Red Sox Nation, or the taunts of English football fans.
One side of the field will feature two or three rows of seating for about 100 people—essentially an oversize luxury box that can include a concession stand. Spectators also can try their hand at color commentary in the on-site broadcast booth; audio from the booth will be fed through the stadium’s sound system. “We’re not creating a stadium for 3,000, 4,000, or 5,000 people,” Sickman says. “This is a custom premium environment for a select number of people.”
Premium environment, indeed. May need to spread the down payment out across more than one credit card.
Image courtesy Populous.
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