Fans attend the opening baseball game at Alfred Harp Helu Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico, on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The ballpark’s unique architecture blends Mesoamerican and modern influences. (Photo: Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
From the air, the shape of the roof is meant to evoke a devil’s trident.
Walking in at ground level, the structure evokes the look of the Aztec pyramids left by Mexico’s mesoamerican civilizations.
The building, Mexico City’s Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu, the home of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol’s Diablos Rojos de Mexico, will host next weekend’s two-game series between the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants. This will be the first time Major League Baseball has played regular season games in Mexico City, and Mexico CIty’s newest stadium – the first built in the nation’s capital in the last 50 years – will be on display, featuring unique architecture that blends both ancient and modern influence.
With a capacity of 20,062, the ballpark is the second-largest in Mexico behind Monterrey’s Estadio Mobil Super, which holds 21,803. The home of the Diablos Rojos seats approximately 11,500 along the baselines, with the remainder of the seating beyond the outfield wall.
Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu sits at an altitude of 7,320 feet – the highest altitude at which Major League Baseball regular season games have ever been played. Combined with the ballpark’s cozy dimensions – it’s just 325 feet down the lines and 400 feet to center field – it’s certainly possible that there could be a lot of offense in the two-game set.
“The procession from the stadium grounds into the ballpark alludes to climbing an ancient Mesoamerican temple,” architect Francisco Gonzalez Pulido told Metropolis magazine. “As the spectators approach the grand entrance, they encounter six truncated pyramids.”
Named for Diablos Rojos owner and San Diego Padres minority owner Alfredo Harp Helu, a billionaire who owned shares in Banamex, a banking concern that was bought out by Citibank in 2001, and Avantel, a telecom company that was bought out in 2006, the ballpark opened in 2019 with an exhibition game between the Padres and the Diablos Rojos.
Located in the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City which was built for the 1968 Summer Olympics, the ballpark sits inside the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, an auto racing track used for Formula 1 races, and near the velodrome, municipal stadium, and basketball arena built for the games.
Architecturally, the ballpark is a marvel, blending ancient influence with the large, trident-shaped roof supported by a steel structure and skinned with lightweight PTFE material that changes with the natural light. The ballpark and roof were designed by Mexican architects Francisco Gonzalez Pulido and Alonso de Garay of the firms FGP Atelier and Taller ADG, based in Chicago and Mexico City.
The San Diego Padres will face the San Francisco Giants at 6:05 p.m. EDT Saturday and 4:05 p.m. EDT on Sunday. Both games will be televised on MLB Network as well as on NBC Sports Bay Area and Bally Sports San Diego. Live updates will also be available via World Baseball Network’s GameCast feature.