KSS design first MLB series event in London
Last month, the London Stadium hosted arguably the most famous Baseball teams; the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the Major League Baseball (MLB) international series.
The transformation of the London Stadium, renowned as a venue for the 2012 Olympic Games, Premier League football, major concerts and athletics, took just 24 days to convert from football mode to a venue for MLB’s European debut.
The two storied franchises have met more than 2,200 times in history, but this was the first time in London.
After detailed analysis of the varied geometries of every MLB field and numerous option studies, KSS designed the Field of Play concept for the London Olympic Stadium to host the event. The games between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees held over the last weekend in June this year was a sell-out success and the event will no doubt repeat and hopefully grow over the coming years.
KSS started discussions with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and MLB regarding potential baseball planning at the London Stadium in 2014. Their role in the transformation included provision of technical information to the MLB to enable ball-flight assessment against a historic database.
KSS continued to review field layout options and alternatives throughout 2014-2018, and developed a seating plan arrangement for the 2019 MLB London Series overlay. This involved a review of alternative seating and field of play arrangements with the MLB to establish the optimum field dimensions, in particular the key dimensions associated with centre field, left and right foul lines.
The playing surface was covered with over 140,000 square feet of artificial turf ahead of the Series. Materials such as clay for the pitcher’s mound and home plate area, and 345 tonnes of dirt for the infield diamond were shipped from the USA, while the fence padding for the field’s perimeter was brought in from Toronto, Canada.
Andy Simons, Director at KSS, said:
We are proud of the success of the project and the impressive speed of overlay works following the final match of the football season on the 4 May 2019. This involved a retraction of the west, north and south stands, and partial removal of the front of the east stand together with a significant field of play overlay on the athletics track and football pitch for the MLB fixtures.
As architects, we are delighted to have played a major part in the creation of an authentic baseball experience in the capital, transporting ‘America’s favourite pastime’ into a state-of-the-art baseball extravaganza for players and supporters.
Images, courtesy: KSS
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