Sections 16 and 17 are currently home to the best seats in the house at Allianz Field because they’re home to the only seats in the house. They’re attached to low metal rails and distributed across the sections in a scattershot fashion with big gaps. Currently, a crew is putting in the black and grey chairs with more blue to come later. It’s a bright hot morning but it’s cool in the shade of the stadium’s lower bowl and I’m looking at the first seat to go into the Loons’ new home. You can’t sit in them because they’re wrapped in plastic and will remain that way for some time to protect them from the elements.
But I want badly to sit in it.
You see, I get sentimental about places. I remember how small my childhood bedroom looked when I went back to the house I grew up in a decade after my family sold it. I remember the way the uneven floors in one of my first apartments meant that any spill in the kitchen ran rapidly to pool in a corner of the living room. I remember sitting on the front stoop of the first house my wife and I bought in late summer.
To me, places aren’t places until they’re lived in, until they’ve started to collect the accumulated weight of the experiences of the people who pass through them. These seats that are just starting to be installed: some of them will be held by season ticket holders for years, decades, maybe even passed down one day to children who will see their first soccer game at Allianz Field next year. People will make friends in these seats, sing “Wonderwall” in these seats, spill beer on these seats, forget their jackets under these seats.
As soon as I heard installation had begun, I knew I wanted to see it for myself. Right now, there’s nothing to see from these seats except the outlines of what’s to come. The field is all dirt and rocks, the upper level across the way a yawning maw of exposed beams and wiring, the giant screens dark. They don’t really mean anything right now, except that one day they could mean an awful lot. Each of the seats that’s going in could be a tiny home away from home for someone, a part of a tradition, a ritual, a place to belong.
Maybe that’s a crazy way to think about it. Maybe it’s over-romanticizing it. I’m okay with that. It’s good to be here at the beginning, to get the gift of thinking about what it could be.