Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Crew Stadium to cook fans, block out the skyline and sunset views

In keeping an interested eye on the (somewhat) nearly complete new Crew Stadium you can't help but notice its giant black roof that covers all the stands. In promotional sizzle reels, it was a glimmering black diamond structure that would look comfortable in Disney's Tomorrowland fantasy.

Now that we have moved on from promo pictures to reality, well, it's not much different. The builders have done a fantastic job bringing the stadium drawings to life. Therein lies the problem (or problems), however.


BLACK ABSORBS HEAT. Perhaps there is one, but there are no examples of a black roof being on any (purpose-built) stadium in the world. The closest you will find might be early 20th century stadiums in England, like Fulham. Roofs that might look similar to what you have at home with common asphalt shingles, usually covering a couple stands. It rains in England if you haven't heard. It's also a *bit* cooler because the season schedule excludes summer play. Outside of those examples, there are no black roofs of any material.

MLS plays all summer. Ohio... gets sunny and hot. I'm not sure how many outdoor games I went to at the old Crew Stadium, but it was more than a handful during sweltering summer evenings. Imagine being in the upper-level seats in 90+ degree heat on a sunny evening in the new stadium.


With the complete wrap-around roof, there's only a hole about the size of the pitch of which to see the outdoors. What that means is that you will only be able to look out of the stadium by looking straight up. Anyone living in the mountains knows the feeling of not being able to see the sky unless you're looking straight up. It nearly eliminates your ability to see the sky. Even promotional drawings show this sort of claustrophobic view of life inside the new stadium.

What doesn't make sense to me is why built it downtown if you are going to block out 90% of the skyline? I get not wanting to see and hear the busy highway not far from the stadium but I don't get why every side is completely covered.

Similarly positioned in terms of climate is DC's "Audi Field". They intelligently only put overhangs on two sides and they are angled slightly up in order to give fans a little breathing room and more importantly, not black in color.


I'll never not be surprised that this was the final design of the new stadium. On its best days, perhaps cool early spring and late fall afternoons at 50% capacity, this stadium may shine. But on its worst days, hot evenings where the sun has been beating down all day (ie. half the MLS calendar) filled up with fans it'll be a dark, sweaty, germy, and cave-like claustrophobic experience.

I'm imagining the close quarters of Nationwide right down the street, only it won't be temperature-controlled and it will be in a post-pandemic environment that I can't imagine being in right now.

Things are what they are. The stadium will be finished before we know it and we'll see some fans in there soon if things continue on their track, but I don't think it will be the wild soccer party that has been sold to city leaders.

My hunch is that the desire to get the design done quickly was the priority, given the environment at the time. This gave fans a stadium, to be sure. Just not the right stadium.

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