How Populous Covers All the Bases for MLB’s All-Star Game
By: Todd Barnes
Each year, a new crop of players and new community rejuvenates Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, the five-day showcase celebrating America’s favorite pastime.
While the players and cities may change, there’s been one constant since the turn of the millennium: Populous. This year marked the 17th consecutive time the league has entrusted its Mid-Summer Classic to our experts in designing marquee events.
Since the final out of the 2016 All-Star Game, a group of Populous event architects and planners out of Denver got to work, setting the stage for the 2017 All-Star Game at Marlins Park in Miami.
Designing an Event for Fans and Operators
For any space, we design with both fans and operators in mind. We meticulously lay out back-of-house spaces to house the extra equipment of marquee events, but also because it indirectly benefits the fan experience. It’s no coincidence Populous is the only firm in the United States that specializes in both marquee venues and their events.
For the All-Star Game this past year, the space hummed with energy from concerts and a one-of-a-kind warm-up lounge for the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. It was just another great example of how architecture can respond intelligently to events of all sizes.
As event designers, we’re routinely giving our architect teammates feedback. As architects, we’re coming back to spaces years after the ribbon-cutting and observing them in action, sometimes working right alongside the event team.
Events the size of the All-Star Game take a keen eye to make the most of the setting. Guiding teams, operators, city officials and leagues through the process keeps our hands full. Having a space that “just works” lets us focus our energy on the bigger picture.
Speaking of the space, Marlins Park is familiar territory. In total, the All-Star Game has been played in a Populous-designed ballpark 14 of the last 15 years. Just like the others, we imagined Marlins Park with exactly this sort of global spotlight in mind.
Opened in 2012, the ballpark sits on the site of the old Orange Bowl in Miami’s historic Little Havana neighborhood. Its modern use of color and material oozes contemporary Miami, not to mention the actual pieces of art integrated throughout, like the 71-foot-tall home run sculpture in center field.
Calle Ocho, the cultural heartbeat of the community and a must-see for any All-Star Game attendee, sits a few blocks away. During the Orange Bowl days, however, it felt further. That’s because a sea of parking lots surrounded the venue, cutting it off from the surrounding environment. The design of Marlins Park represented a chance for us to knit the community back together.
Three of the ballpark’s edges touch a city street, some of which didn’t even exist beforehand. The fourth opens to a West Plaza with art installations, tropical landscaping and event space unlike any other in the big leagues.
With every event, the results shine through come show time, just like they did this year in Miami.