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How to Build an Athletic Fence with Sports Sheeting

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Whenever you hear or read about a professional staff exploring the possibility of moving to another town, the desire for a new arena is often the primary reason. A sparkling new stadium full of modern amenities attracts fans in droves — and that generates significant revenues for the group and the regional businesses that surround the facility such as pubs, restaurants, hotels and retail shops. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders are the most recent instance of a sport’s team making a move in search of greener pastures. Playing from the antiquated Oakland Coliseum, which was constructed more than 50 years back, the group generated a mere $69 million in stadium revenues in 2015, according to Forbes magazine. In contrast, the Dallas Cowboys, playing in the immaculate, state-of-the-art AT&T Stadium, raked in more than $440 million. Unable to get financial support to build a new stadium in Oakland, the team’s possession sought and received approval from the league to move to Las Vegas, where it will play in a newly assembled 65,000-seat domed stadium (price tag: $1.9 billion) tentatively scheduled for completion in 2020. Annual earnings forecasts for the new facility range from $250-$350 million.

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE SPORTS STADIUM

While the origins of this sports arena can be traced to the early Greeks, the first modern facilities were built in the mid-to-late 19th century. These sport venues were designed with practicality in mind — the goal was to hold as many audiences as possible, and comforts were virtually non-existent. The majority of these ancient structures were single-purpose facilities constructed mainly of wood, several of which were ultimatelydestroyed by fire. Goodison Park, a Liverpool, England soccer stadium that opened in 1892, was the first sports facility to feature a concrete-and-steel construction. The tendency of single-purpose stadiums lasted through much of the 20th century. Facilities such as Fenway Park in Boston, which opened in 1912, and Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and Wrigley Field in Chicago, both of which were finished in 1914, were especially built for baseball. Designed to blend into the surrounding city areas, these facilities featured comparatively little seating capacities and provided fans with an intimate, up-close ballpark experience that almost made them feel as though they were part of the activity.

THE BIRTH OF THE MULTIPURPOSE STADIUM

The post-World War II migration of Americans from the city to the suburbs together with the growth in popularity of professional football resulted in the arrival of the multipurpose sports arena concept, which served as the model for those facilities built during the 1960s and 1970s. Designed for both football and baseball, these circular, symmetrical concrete facilities were typically constructed in suburban locations and provided easy access by interstate highway. Spacious parking lots were alsorequired to accommodate the heavy vehicle traffic, as these facilities were inaccessible through the towns’ mass transit systems. Examples of this multipurpose stadium concept included Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C.; Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia; Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh; Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium; and Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Houston Astrodome, which opened in 1965, was the world’s first multipurpose stadium to feature a domed roof and an artificial turf field.

THE RETURN TO THE SINGLE-PURPOSE STADIUM CONCEPT

While multipurpose stadiums offered the benefit of practicality and flexibility, the uninspired cookie-cutter design featured in most of these facilities eventually fell out of favor with audiences, especially old-school baseball fans who longed for a return to the local ballpark look and feel. This led to the growth of the retro-classic concept inspired by older facilities such as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. The first of this retro-classic ballparks was Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Completed in 1992, Camden Yards rests on the website of an old B&O railroad yard in South Baltimore and features a sprawling, 1,100-foot-long, eight-story refurbished railroad warehouse as a backdrop. Other stadiums motivated by the Camden Yards model include Progressive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, AT&T Park in San Francisco and Miller Park in Milwaukee. These facilities combine the retro look and feel with all the modern features and amenities necessary to meet the requirements of the 21st-century sports enthusiast. These new baseball stadiums include expansive scoreboards and video replay screens, as well as natural grass or synthetic turf fields that are softer than artificial turf.

CURRENT AND FUTURE STADIUM DESIGN TRENDS

 

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While the traditional stadium design catered to families, modern stadiums to appeal to the 18-to-34-year-old demographic. These younger people view going to a sporting event as a total entertainment experience that entails far more than watching a ball game. The design of newer facilities typically incorporates features such as pedestrian malls, entertainment plazas and concourses located outside the arena that allow fans to dine, shop and socialize before and after the match. Today’s facilities also feature numerous seating environments that extend well beyond the conventional stadium seat in the middle of a crowded row of spectators. Premium seating options include private suites that resemble living rooms and can accommodate 10-15 fans. These suites include a private entrance from the arena concourse and have features such as buffets, bars, television monitors and computers with Internet access. Some stadiums even provide field suites located in the front row that place fans directly on top of the activity. Stadium amenities also have come a long way, regarding the variety of food options. In addition to the hot dog, beer and bag of peanuts, most stadiums provide a broad assortment of luxury cuisine and craft beers and wine to appeal to a younger, upscale crowd. Menu options at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, widely considered the crown jewel of NFL facilities, include everything from chicken fried quail into a brisket sandwich on pretzel bread smothered in melted onions, piquillo peppers and melted cheddar cheese. While the popularity of single-purpose stadiums continues, there are signs of an eventual return to the multipurpose idea. Based on John Rhodes, Director of Sports, Recreation and Entertainment in the London office of HOK, the architectural firm largely responsible for producing the Camden Yards concept, the multipurpose design has been gaining traction across Europe over the past decade. Rhodes indicates there is a growing shift toward creating more civic-type facilities that can host a wide range of sporting and community events. Sustainability has also become a vital factor in all new arena projects to comply with LEED requirements. In a recent StarTalk Radio episode, Stadiums of the Future, Neil deGrasse Tyson dives into modern arena designs and tech with co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice and Benjamin Brillat of IBM Sports. Bejamin Brillat discusses how these advancements start right from once the stadium is just a hole in the floor. They bury the conduit from the concrete rightbefore it gets poured. Future designs will not only change the way fans encounter a game, but it might also change the sport.

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