The benefits of facility upgrades
Published Sept. 19, 2023
The Putnam City High School gymnasium entryway in Oklahoma City, designed by Reed Architecture and Interiors
The quality of sports program facilities – from the locker and training rooms to the playing field or court – directly impacts each player’s performance, chance of injury, and physical safety. These factors have a cumulative effect on team sports.
Facilities also have a dynamic impact on fan appreciation and loyalty. An old, uncomfortable, or unpleasant environment may sour audience moods and heighten reactions to bad play. Bright, engaging atmospheres inspire crowds, prompt positive responses, and encourage program loyalty.
This proves true at all levels of sports, from elementary and high school ball diamonds and gymnasiums to college and professional stadiums and arenas.
“Keeping up with the Jones is a harsh reality in athletic facilities today,” said David Reed, founder of Reed Architecture and Interiors of Sapulpa. “Even Barry Switzer said, ‘Kids today don’t care how many championship banners are on the wall; they care about what is bright, shiny, and new.’ I’d say it boils down to each student-athlete is looking for what is the best place to help them be the very best they can be. Facilities that meet those needs are rewarded with successful teams.”
Reed has witnessed these different factors as both a patron and designer of sports facilities. His hands-on project experience includes Oklahoma State University’s Boone Pickens Stadium, Tulsa Public Schools’ Memorial Veterans Arena, and Putnam City West High School’s athletic complex.
“Sports facilities have two specific requirements: sightlines for fans and enhanced performance of athletes,” said Reed, whose firm has designed more than 20 athletic structures.
“If the fans have a great view of the action – along with easy circulation and great fan amenities such as concessions, restrooms, and comfortable seats – in an environment that inspires them to cheer their team on to victory, that’s a home run,” he said. “When we can design a facility that meets all the needs to inspire and instruct student-athletes to become the very best they can be – by maximizing their time training and minimizing their steps between each activity during their day – they will have a built-in competitive advantage over their competition.”
These results start at fundamental levels. Modern or well-maintained sports environments boost the desire of both players and fans to succeed in their physical activities. Data from multiple sources proves that aerobic training, weightlifting, and other forms of exercise improve a participant’s physical health, intelligence, and emotional state. Practiced exertions strengthen the heart and muscles, build up physical endurance, and improve mental capabilities by getting the brain more oxygen, boosting neuron development, and releasing essential hormones that enhance thought processing.
When paired with positive instruction, engaging facilities help increase personal and social skills. This boosts team skills, confidence, and fan interest and support, laying the groundwork for long-term program success.
Trends in sports programs and facility improvements cover a wide range of enhancements from high school to college and professional levels. Such investments play into humanity’s natural inclination to compare and contrast. In today’s competitive environment, the better the program facilities and amenities, the stronger their attraction to players and fans. This translates into improved player confidence (vital to creating standout performances) and fan loyalty. While a quality facility may lift both home and away teams, the location heightens aspects of home field security while boosting the intimidation factor felt by visitors.
This does not mean determined, dedicated individuals or coaches cannot succeed in lower-quality conditions. However, investments to maintain and improve sports program resources and facilities usually result in better individual and team play while boosting fan and patron interest and loyalty. It represents an administrative pledge to help teams stay competitive.
“Every student wanting to compete deserves the opportunity to train and compete in the best environment possible,” said Reed.
Memorial Veterans Arrena in Tulsa, OK, designed by Reed Architecture and Interiors
Operational advantages from improved facilities
Investing in new or renovated facilities, environment, and equipment may:
● Renew and sustain player/visitor interest and demonstrate a school’s attention to heightening the game experience.
● Increase multipurpose use options for the owner/operator.
● Boost the facility’s useable time, which increases potential visitation and revenue per square foot (operating costs may also rise).
● Increase options for hosting events that boost exposure and revenue (operating costs may also rise).
Trends in sports facilities
From high school to college and professional levels
For many years multipurpose stadiums and arenas have offered multiple sports and tournament options, plus offices, classrooms, club rooms, fitness centers, healthcare clinics, trophy rooms, media centers, and/or video production centers. New consumer-oriented amenities include retail and restaurant options, banquet/conference facilities, hotels, gardens, family entertainment centers, climbing walls, swimming pools, communications hubs, social media programming sites, interactive consumer kiosks, lounges, nursing rooms, “quiet” areas, chapels, and security/lockup quarters.
New designs mix customer comfort and functionality with a variety of seating options, such as suites, club levels, loge boxes, and bleachers that range from benches to seats with chair backs. Many structures tout improved pedestrian layouts, modular systems, vandalism-resistant materials, and decorations that display team colors or logos, whether folded or in place. Some designs offer “standing room only areas” that do not obstruct the view of those behind them.
New high-intensity lights provide superior illumination, compact fixtures, and energy/cost savings. LED systems improve efficiency and programmability. Many designs use translucent fiberglass wall panels and skylights to maximize natural lighting for efficiency and comfort, minimizing light fixture energy usage during daylight hours. Solar light tube systems may harvest rooftop sunlight to illuminate an area without heat gain.
New products promise more durable and cost-effective finishes. New milling technologies and water-based varnishes provide wood flooring with greater durability and lower environmental impact. Synthetic floor improvements offer more versatility. Some offer vandal-resistant touches.
● Vending areas serve as social meeting places, which offer the opportunity to generate revenue.
● Student reading rooms that act as library satellites, but with personal touches such as the availability of films and tapes of lectures.
● Eliminating “dead” spaces (beneath stairwells) by using live plants with grow lights.
● Scattered lounges.
● Folding walls and seating.
● Artificial climbing walls.
● A “rolling” roof over a swimming pool.