How Practice Facilities Can Engage Communities, Fans, Players, Teams, and Sponsors

Take a look into the newest NHL practice facilities, with industry tips to ensure lasting relevancy. The architects at Generator Studio outline the differentiators that position these practice facilities to be community staples.

In our training center experience, the stakeholders’ top priority is transforming a traditional training facility into a public-oriented building that supports the local community and regional economy, while simultaneously forging a home for a team’s brand. We also find our clients focusing on a number of additional benchmarks above these initial criteria: brand image, corporate partners, regional relevancy, revenue, and engagement. Here are some critical factors for consideration, whether you are renovating or building new:

Relevancy + Recruiting

Maximize your team’s ability to be competitive in your league. Day in, day out, keep in mind your training center is where your team spends most of its time. Providing a comfortable, state-of-the-art environment for your team to thrive both on and off the playing field is essential for recruiting purposes.

Design for “Instagrammable moments” with social landmarks that provide users with interesting stories to share and opportunities to enhance their personal brands, while expanding the reach and exposure to the sport, team, and facility.


Driving new sources of revenue is critical to sustaining outward-facing facilities. We see more ways to generate capital via the following channels:

  • Naming Rights
  • Cornerstone and Founding Partner Sponsorships
  • Enhanced Medical Partner Relationships
  • Regional Sponsorships
  • Media Rights and Exclusive Broadcast Rights
  • Team Store and Merchandising
  • Corporate and Group Sales Events
  • Special Behind-the-Scenes Opportunities
  • Local, Craft Food and Beverage Offerings

Fan Engagement + Brand Image

Creating new opportunities for engaging current, and creating new fans, is key. At the Seattle Kraken’s new training center, the Kraken are developing an on-brand sports bar that overlooks the training ice. The bar and grill will host away-game broadcasts, in addition to watch parties for all games. Fans will have exclusive access to engage with the team, while simultaneously watching practice and socializing with friends.

Youth engagement is another critical component to facility programming. At the St. Louis Blues Centene Community Ice Center, every level of organized hockey plays under one roof alongside the professionals – from pee wee, to college, to NHL. Centene may be the first facility to do so, but is certainly won’t be the last. The interaction for youth with professional players as they are lacing up and watching the Blues exit the ice is priceless and creates lifelong fans. #growthegame


Enhance corporate partner relationships and create new ones. One of the biggest opportunities for new sources of revenue, and a more integrated and meaningful corporate partner relationship, is creating an opportunity for a partner with a physical presence in your training center. This presence can take shape in many ways:

  • Team doctors have a forward-facing practice that allows the general public to seek treatment alongside players.
  • A medical partner offers selected services through its network of doctors, offered on-site for both player and public access. Sports training, rehabilitation, physiology, and psychology are some of the most common services offered.
  • A corporate or naming rights partner provides a unique service or amenity for the facility.
  • A performance partner shares training facilities and hybridizes its programming to provide the best possible sports and rehabilitation center for athletes of all stages and ages in the region.


Build community support. Be the catalyst of change in a neighborhood that needs it. Invest in disadvantaged youth to give equitable access to the sport. Host non-sports-related community activities. At Centene, the Blues consciously made the facility community-first, embracing the notion of being a tenant. And while their schedule takes priority in the building, most other users see the Blues as a friendly neighbor to share ice time. People love going to the building whether participating in sports or not, because maybe, just maybe, they will get a sneak peek of one of their sports heroes.

The success of a practice facility relies heavily on the community. The time spent off ice, off court, or off the field is as much of a priority as the facilities for the athletes. The way people experience the building –  from first time spectators, to parents on tournament weekends, to youth players between games – is how these facilities become cemented in the fabric of their surroundings.

The St. Louis Blues and Seattle Kraken have accomplished all of these feats and more, being true ambassadors for the game of hockey and upstanding corporate citizens to the greater communities where they work and play. Their commitment to growing the next generation of fans and players is raising the bar through their accessible, community-focused practice facilities.

Jill Monaghan is an architect and designer with a focus on sports, entertainment, and hospitality projects. Reach her here to discuss your practice facility needs, ask questions, or to say hi.