Feature Article - May 2017
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If You Build It…

Up-to-Date Sports Facilities Aim to Bring Back Crowds

By Dave Ramont


Staying Safe & Other Challenges

And what about safety and security concerns—are these areas getting more attention lately? Bechtold and Appleman said absolutely—that it's critical to understand Homeland Security recommendations for these bigger assembly spaces.

"So being mindful of how you treat these buildings in terms of secure perimeter, service and vehicular access, etc. And then from a design standpoint, the physical things that you build in that help to create the areas for screening in a timely fashion. So how do you provide safety while still providing a pleasing game day experience?"

They explained how training facilities are even exercising tighter security measures these days, mentioning the Clemson facility as an example—especially now that the Championship trophy sits in the lobby.

"Even that building has high security to the extent that they've got biometric screening where you've got to have your thumbprint to get in the door at all times, or you have to be accompanied by someone who's in that database."

Fatovic pointed out that the extensive placement of security cameras and facial recognition technology can be a tool later for any charges or prosecution, while Erickson said that daily security at Husky Stadium is much improved. "As part of the renovation, card readers were added to specific points of entry and within the Football Operations Center."

Sustainability issues are also a major priority, with many colleges committed to incorporating sustainable mechanical systems, materials and practices within their institutions. "It's really always a baseline anymore; it's something where the clients really want to hit that certain level of sustainability, whether it be LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum. It's more about responsible design for us," Bechtold and Appleman said, pointing out that there are huge challenges associated with accommodating 60,000 to 100,000 people. "So, how do you provide those environments that are going to sustain that type of event not only on game day but outside of that, become something that can return and give back to the community in some capacity?"

The LEED Silver-certified Husky Stadium also received Salmon Safe Certification through the Pacific Rivers Council, recognizing UW for its transformative land management practices, including pollution capture, storm water capture, reducing construction pollution, and maintaining a green infrastructure buffer. The upgraded stadium boasts a 40 percent reduction in water consumption, and the new design links the stadium with the new Sound Transit light-rail station—a popular transit service for Husky fans.

Storage is another big component in venues now, according to Bechtold and Appleman. They explained that student-athletes now have way more gear than in the past, especially with sponsorships, often using multiple pairs of shoes, gloves, uniforms and helmets. "The high-density rolling storage has really been huge, so they're not just having rooms with shelves packed in them."

Fatovic added that teams are also travelling with a lot more gear these days—for instance, the sports-medicine guy might travel with several crates—and that all needs to be stored somewhere.

Another constant challenge is parking and traffic flow, entering and exiting an event. "Those are all things that people are paying close attention to in the site planning and site design of these facilities—making that first experience and that last one as good as they can be. That's been one of the biggest challenges in our industry over the last several years is getting people to that event. If someone has a bad experience, they likely aren't going to travel out and continue to take that on," Bechtold and Appleman said.

Moving forward, Fatovic believes facilities should cater to an older demographic as alumni age, pointing out that they don't want to climb a lot of stairs, with some using walkers or scooters. Seats are becoming wider and more comfortable, and wheelchair areas are common. But they also need to consider the younger population, who demand the newest technologies and innovations, since they will hopefully be the future season-ticket holders.