Geometrically speaking, baseball is extremely unique among team sports. In many others, the playing surface is symmetrical across two axes — but a baseball field is only symmetrical across one. Plus, baseball stadiums are often romanticized for the quirky relationships they foster between their building parts and the field itself.
The architecture of older stadiums would often mirror the shape of the field, whereas contemporary ballparks allow for greater deviation from that norm. That creates extra nooks in the field where hit balls can get lost for an extra second or more, often giving runners enough time to get a whole extra base. The architecture of the new Diablos Rojos Stadium in Mexico City may mirror the field like the stadiums of old, but it still presents a refreshing departure from the standard ballpark template. The stadium was (mostly) completed in March of 2019, just in time for the start of La Liga Mexicana de Béisbol season in April.
The most obvious departure here is the design of the roof, which covers 11,500 seats and stretches outward over the exterior plaza almost to the street. Designed by the Chicago-based FGP Atelier, the roof is employed predictably to protect the fans from the sun and the rain, and also to cover the plaza. But the material of the roof, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), sets Diablos Rojos Stadium apart by only diffusing sunlight during the day rather than blocking it completely.
Anyone who’s ever been to a baseball stadium and sat under a solid roof has experienced sitting shade, which is even darker at night. By using a translucent material for the roof, the Mexico City stadium is able to cover seats without giving the fans the feeling of having a roof casting a shadow over them when the sun starts to set. On top of that, the roof also acts as a large light at night, reflecting the stadium lighting downward rather than all around.
For some people, the fun part about going to a sporting event is not the game itself, but the atmosphere. For instance, just outside of a baseball stadium prior to the first pitch is an exciting moment of activity. As lines begin to form at concession stands, families play in-stadium games for team-themed prizes, while other fans wait for their friends. The sound is that of a carnival, with the constant digital pings of tickets being scanned at the gate punctuated by hawkers peddling programs and snacks. This activity happens at all high-level sporting events, but at Diablos Rojos Stadium, it’s extra special. The presence of the roof over the plaza brings the festivities that animate the pregame moments into the stadium itself. This removes the tension that fans usually have when they attend sporting matches, as most want to take in the ambiance outside the stadium but also want to get inside the building to be ready for the start of the match. At Diablos Rojos, fans can enter the stadium without feeling like they’re missing out on the pregame party outside, because the party has already been brought inside for them.
The concessions, restrooms, shops, and other amenities are kept inside six volcanic rock pyramids, which themselves are a nod to the Pre-Columbian temples of Mesoamerica. Between the pyramids and the home plate part of the stadium is a wide pedestrian pathway that runs under the roof. Older baseball stadiums often used architectural styles of the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Even contemporary stadiums try to create a faux imitation of those styles. It’s extremely rare that the architecture of a stadium reference ancient architecture, but FGP and their stadium collaborators Taller ADG knew they wanted to give fans a deep connection to Mexico’s rich history.
What is most laudable about the Diablos Rojos Stadium is the way it uses architecture to enhance the enjoyment of the overall baseball experience. It doesn’t just focus on the enjoyment of the spectacle inside the diamond, but also on the fun that occurs outside it during pre and post-game moments.