Not sure if we have ever mentioned this before, by my dad is a retired architect. For many years he worked for HOK, the same firm that designs most of the sports stadiums in this country.

Well, this morning we were digging around on the HOK (now known as Populous) website looking for something else when we stumbled upon their list of baseball projects.

Interestingly, 20 current and future stadiums are listed. But by our count, HOK/Populous is responsible for 21 big league ballparks. The one missing? Tropicana Field of course! They list over 60 minor league ballparks, but not The Trop. Must not be too proud of that one. Like that one job we all leave off of our resumés.




  1. Beth says:

    Cork, I'm so glad you mentioned this.

    I have a strong interest in architecture, and when I moved here a few years ago I was curious to learn which firm had designed Tropicana Field. Too bad, I had thought, that the city had not been willing to pay for a really good firm, one known for innovative stadium and arena designs. A firm, you know, like HOK.

    I was shocked to learn this was actually an HOK building. I can only imagine that they handed it off to the summer intern to design.

    And for the record, I can be a passionate defender of the Trop as a decent place to play and watch baseball, especially when the national media acts as though every ball caroms off a catwalk. But you really can't defend the Trop on architectural/design grounds.

  2. Jeff says:


  3. Pinto says:

    Welp, at least the spring training facilities in Port Charlotte are on there...

  4. Andy says:

    Don't know who created it, but I still like the concept/design of the failed downtown waterfront park, or, as Big League Stew called it, the 'sailboat stadium' 🙂 It was creative, unique & very Florida. Sorry it got canned, especially since it was originally targeted as opening in 2012. Hmmmmm, wouldn't that be better than the bickering, indecision & upheaval about anything related to a new Rays stadium? Just sayin'.

    • Sarah says:

      I always thought that stadium - design, location -- would have been perfect.....for a city with a decent public transportation system. If you could anticipate that some percentage of fans -- even just 20% -- would have public transit options then a stadium with limited parking availability would be fine. But 25,000 - 30,000 people all arriving at that site in their cars....yikes, what a mess. Since public transit at any reasonable scale seems to be decades away, we have to accept the fact that any stadium location must prioritize parking and highway access.

      • Andy says:

        Agree Sarah, good public transportation seems more of a pipe dream than a new stadium 🙁 So, agree, too @ projected parking issues. However, my major point was an appreciation for the beautiful, creative design of this projected stadium 🙂 I did a quickie search when making comment & noticed the initial projected date & couldn't pass making a stmt to that effect. Also, I noticed a gr8 view of it w/the sail-like 'roof' closed, a view I don't recall seeing before. Here's link for that:

        Hope they hire whoever designed this one whenever they move forward for real!!!

  5. Gus says:

    History Lesson for Cork and other architecture buffs:

    The Trop was designed as "Royals Stadium with a roof". It was the state of the art at the time it was commissioned, as Royals Stadium was widely consider the best MLB park in the 1980s. The local officials did the right thing. Generally, it has served the community well given its low cost versatility (it was converted from a "sail" like structure to a full dome when baseball wouldn't commit to an expansion timetable. Its roof has outlived its original project lifespan. Florida is hot as hell; you need a/c; the slanted roof was innovative.

    HOK screwed up by slanting the roof just a few degrees too much, which brings all the rings into play. Because baseball was not played right away after it opened in 1990, the problem was not discovered until after the statute of limitations had passed and thus HOK never got sued. The catwalks are maddening; the ground rules baseball have returned to make it all the more maddeing. The rest of the stadium is fine; not a tourist attraction or a thing of beauty, but as someone who has gone to 100s of games there, it is totally functional and fine.

    One other thing; when the City hired HOK in 1986 to build the building, the had an exclusive so that HOK could not build another major league park in Florida as competition until the City's stadium had a team, a significant advantage in the expansion game to have HOK on your side. The snakes (not your pop I'm sure Cork) at HOK rebmodeled Dolphins football stadium for baseball and breached the spirity (if not the letter of the exclusivity) of the agreement. Miami got the 1993 expansion franchise with the key help of HOK. So I'm glad they leave the Trop off of their list.

    • Beth says:

      Gus, thanks, that's such a great bit of history. The stuff about the overly slanty roof may actually confirm my theory that this was designed by the summer intern!

      Because I moved here fairly recently, well after the park was named Tropicana Field, I had long assumed it was built so that the top resembled an orange juice squeezer. Kitschy, but local!

      My aesthetic complaint about Tropicana Field is that it feels so much like you are sitting in someone's basement. Of course you can enjoy a game there, but why can't we aspire to a ballpark where the design actually enhances the experience?

      I've never been to any other domed stadium, just seen games played there on TV, and I'm curious whether more recent architectural innovations have relieved that cellar feeling. Certainly Minute Maid Park provides a lot of natural light -- that's got to add to maintenance costs (air conditioning) but presumably if you positioned a stadium so that any glass sides faced north, and created landscaping that helped dissipate the sunlight you could reduce the heat infiltration.


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