Barton Malow has been active in the sports construction market since the 1930s, when we performed a small renovation of Navin Field, the then-home of the MLB’s Detroit Tigers. Since then, we’ve completed more than 225 sports projects, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Little Caesars Arena, the Rose Bowl Redevelopment, and Truist Park for the Atlanta Braves.
These projects encompass new stadium builds as well as upgrades and renovations to existing Collegiate, NFL, MLS, NBA, NHL, MLB, MiLB, and NASCAR facilities throughout North America. Some of the greatest athletes of all time, including Cal Ripken, Tom Brady, Dale Earnhardt, and so many others have entertained thousands of fans during the history of these facilities.
As we start to see venues fill up again that were once completely empty a year ago, making sure they are up to standard is more important than ever. An example is the major renovation we are currently doing at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium to enhance the fan experience and help the venue attract marquee events, such as the NFL Pro Bowl, College Football Playoff, and perhaps even 2026 World Cup matches.
We’re also a partner to AECOM Hunt on UBS Arena, the future home of the New York Islanders. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a sports project we’re building now or one we’ve recently completed, one theme rings true – sports stadium development is in a transitional period.
Enhancing the Fan Experience
One of the biggest trends in sports development is removing seats or building new stadiums that contain a lesser amount of conventional spectator seats to enhance the fan experience via club seating and more flexible spaces. It’s part of a trend to make going to a live sporting event seem less like a game and more of an experience.
In today’s stadium, there’s a diversity of pretty much everything. From luxury suites to mini suites to club seats, loge boxes, and yes, conventional seat backs, owners are looking to provide a wide array of seating options that enable fans to congregate and socialize while taking in the action on the field, court, ice, or stage. It’s a trend that’s being implemented by literally every professional sports organization and collegiate athletic department today.
At a renovation to Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, our project teams converted an area that was once corner seating into a special section of open space. At Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, loge seating provides a unique, more private aerial view of Pistons and Red Wings games or other events being held there. And at Camping World Stadium, we’ve removed a mezzanine level of seating on the sidelines and are in the process of replacing it with suites and club spaces.
More seats aren’t necessarily better any longer. Not only are fans looking for a more diverse experience, but offering a greater amount of club seats, suites, and unique viewing experiences has proven to generate more revenue for owners than what the conventional seatback would.
New Trends in Sports Gambling and Sports Venues
Gone are the days of trekking to Las Vegas to place bets on sporting events. To date, sports betting is legal – whether in-person or online – in more than two dozen states. It’s likely only a matter of time before it’s legal everywhere, and sports venues stand to benefit.
Imagine making an in-game bet at a game you’re currently watching in person. It’s already happened in certain venues, and it’s poised to happen in others soon, like at Little Caesars Arena, where the PointsBets Sports Bar is readying to open for the start of the 2021-22 Pistons and Red Wings seasons.
In the 1980s, there were jumbotrons and retractable roofs. There’s been the incorporation of cheerleading squads, dance teams, and in-game promotions to attract fans and compete with the high-definition home viewing experience. There’s become a wider range of food and beverage options that ever before. In-person sports gambling is poised to become that new incentivizing factor to encourage fans to continue to come to the arena, stadium, or ballpark.
In this fast-paced sports industry, team and venue owners are faced with the growing demands of the industry. Regardless of how good a team is, it’s said that they typically have at least a two-year “grace period” from the time a new or renovated facility opens where fan interest is high and ticket sales are strong simply because of how new the venue is. A good team that people want to pay to come watch helps, but don’t underestimate the importance of amenities as it pertains to engaging fans and creating memorable experiences.
Learn More at ALSD 2021: Plan to attend the 8th Annual Sports Venue Design & Build Forum, held in conjunction with the 31st Annual ALSD Conference and Tradeshow, to participate in sessions such as “Master Planning Key Contributors”.