Feature Article - July 2010
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Design for the Big Time

Latest Stadiums Mix History, Technology and Intimate Fan Experience

By Daniel P. Smith


atching the game is no longer enough.

Today's homes for professional sports and big-time college teams have dropped cookie-cutter expectations and reached for sharp, innovative features that bring fans closer to the game, embrace history and tradition, and inject 21st-century marvels into the design. From field suites and interactive spaces to skyline views, party decks and team museums, recent stadiums increasingly have moved the needle from a place to merely watch a game to a cozy space delivering an experience.

These are not your grandfather's—or even your father's—stadiums. The latest sports and entertainment venues to grace the American landscape are packed with flair and punch, style and substance.

TCF Bank Stadium
Location: Minneapolis
Home Team: University of Minnesota football
Opened: August 2009
Seating: 50,000, including 36 suites, 55 to 60 loge boxes, 1,150 outdoor club seats and 300 indoor club seats

Football returned to the University of Minnesota campus after a nearly 30-year hiatus when TCF Bank Stadium debuted last season. Upon opening, the stadium was registered to become the nation's first LEED Certified collegiate football stadium.

TCF Bank Stadium's brick facade perimeter wall with arched portals reflects the team's former home—the on-campus Memorial Stadium. The horseshoe-shaped bowl is oriented to the west, allowing fans to enjoy scenic views of the campus and downtown Minneapolis, while information about both the university and the state is showcased throughout the facility.

Year-round functionality drove the design. The open end zone features the "Tribal Nations Plaza," a gathering place to celebrate the state of Minnesota and the Golden Gophers' program throughout the year. A 25,000-square-foot stadium club, meanwhile, also is available for year-round use as is the walkway created by a 360-degree colonnade. "Collegiate football is game day; it's the traditions and the band, the cheerleaders and the school colors and the pride," said Scott Radecic, senior principal with Populous, a global design practice. "Our task was to collect all that emotion and design a building that could hold it all."