Feature Article - October 2006
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Fixtures Fixation

What to consider when outfitting sports facilities

By Daniela Bloch

The avant-garde

The recreation industry likes to stay en vogue, so keep up with new sports, design ideas, cutting-edge equipment, flashy features, easy-on-the-eyes accessories, and user likes and dislikes. Consider vibrant colors, engaging design, open-space environments, reducing clutter and visual appeal when selecting fixtures—basically anything and everything to improve the facility on all levels for all parties involved.

The people that enter the facility are as different as the colors in a box of crayons, so keep that in mind. Clearly there is no way to cater perfectly to every individual's demands, but think outside the cookie-cutter box and try to offer new things in new ways.

Case in point: the Pinelands Sports Center in Southampton, N.J. The standard problem combated by this facility—dangerously dangling light fixtures, both accident-prone and unattractive. Problem solved with innovative lighting design.

"Indirect lighting from the sides is great," says Alex Samuelian, co-owner of the center, "because in the playing area you don't have to worry about the ball hitting the lights on the ceiling."

Alas, no need for a nostalgic reminisce of poorly organized dodgeball games in high school gym class. Instead, indirect lighting (thankfully) prevents those memories and results in a much more attractive facility.

Bottom line: Don't settle. Spice things up, ask users what they'd like to see in the future and make it a point to give them what they want. The customer is always right, no?

Never say never

Finally, experts agree: Never close yourself off to suggestions.

"It's important to be as customer-friendly as you can be," Colagiovanni says. "And ask and take their feedback. Sometimes you get crazy ideas but you have to listen to them. You're promoting more than just yourself here."

Keep facility users in mind when changing, adding or renovating fixtures and equipment. It's all for them, so what they want, think and need just might be important.

Bottom line: "Talk to lots of people that work there, get their input and go from there," Ebel says.

Well on your way

All this advice in no way covers every facet of facility life. Besides the aforementioned, there are numerous details to keep in mind, like, for example, actual equipment: basketball rims, goal posts, protective padding, batting cages, etc. Stay poised and organize thoroughly what it is your facility will need. So plan wisely, brainstorm collaboratively and invest intelligently.