Pac Bell Park isn't Too Windy, Thanks to UC Davis Expert
May 3, 2000
The San Francisco Giants baseball team knew it wanted one thing from its new ballpark at China Basin: a nicer environment for fans and players than they'd had at Candlestick Point. So they called in wind-studies specialist Bruce White, a UC Davis professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering.
Using a 1/50th scale model of downtown San Francisco placed inside the campus's wind tunnel, the only one of its kind west of the Rockies, White tested two proposed Pac Bell Park designs. He found that the design favored by the architects would have been twice as windy for fans as the old park at Candlestick Point.
He recommended the alternative design, with the stadium rotated 90 degrees and the stands facing the Bay Bridge. That's the design the architects built, and fans and players so far have had good things to say. White attended Opening Day himself, but admits he spent more time watching wind effects in the stadium than watching the game.
He notes that winds outside the stadium are still strong, and balls hit above the walls will carry far. "I think Pac Bell Park will become known as a home-run stadium," he said.
White has also used wind tunnels and scale models to study urban air pollution, San Francisco skyscrapers, and sandstorms on California's dry Owens Lake and on the planet Mars.
- Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, firstname.lastname@example.org
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