flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

6 ways to maximize home-field advantage in sports venue design

6 ways to maximize home-field advantage in sports venue design

Home-field advantage can play a significant role in game outcomes. Here are ways AEC firms can help create the conditions that draw big crowds, energize the home team to perform better, and disrupt visiting players.


By Jon Niemuth, Director of AECOM Sports, Americas | September 26, 2013
Ultra-modern technology, high-end design finishes, and institutional identity imagery all contribute to athletes sense of belongingin a facility, in a tradition, and in contention for their leagues highest honors. When the University of Oregon created the Matthew Knight Arena to replace a legendary basketball temple, it was critical that the facility modernize to the utmost while embodying the legacy of the previous building and the Ducks.

When sports teams travel to a game, they battle fatigue, strange surroundings, and thousands of hostile, roaring fans. The home team meanwhile, rested, confident in their city and familiar with the facility, rides the fan energy that rocks their building when they step onto the field or court. 

Home advantage can play a significant role in game outcomes. Players talk about it, coaches plan for it, Vegas odds makers calculate it. Team owners even ask architects to maximize it. 

Here are six ways AEC firms can help create the conditions that draw big crowds, energize the home team to perform better, and disrupt visiting players:

 

 

1. Bring the fans in close

The closer the fans are, the more the players hear the noise, see the enthusiasm, and feel the energy. Venues can be designed to place stands as close to the court or field as possible, and steep-pitched seating bowls can bring the back rows closer to the action. The result: home teams feel the energy of the crowd as an extra player, while visiting teams must battle the added aural and visual distraction.  

At JELD-WEN Field, seating extends to within fifteen feet of the pitch, and many fans stand and cheer virtually the entire game. After the Timbers’ home opener victory, head coach John Spencer said, “I don’t think you’ve seen an atmosphere like that in American soccer history. Ever. I think it was tremendous.”

 

 

2. Make it loud

Acoustic design maximizes the crowd’s ability to drown the opposing team in roaring noise, disrupt their communication and intimidate them. CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Seattle Seahawks, has been dubbed the “loudest stadium in the NFL” thanks to a design that focuses crowd noise onto the field. 

Foot stomping on the steel stands has been recorded by seismographs at comparable levels to a mini-earthquake. Over a 10-year period, there were 143 false-start penalties on visiting teams in Seattle, the most of any open-air stadium. During the home opener against the San Francisco 49ers on September 15, 2013, CenturyLink will be the site of an attempt sponsored by a fan group to break the Guinness World Record for loudest stadium crowd.

 

 

3. Make it easy to get there

How easily fans can travel to a venue is a big factor in filling the seats. Placing the venue in a centralized location well served by mass transit makes it more accessible. Brooklyn’s new sports and entertainment destination, Barclays Center, is one of the few urban venues in the U.S. with no dedicated parking. Instead, the arena can be reached by 11 subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road, and 11 bus lines. In their first season at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets traded years at the isolated, and largely empty, Meadowlands Arena (and a two-year stint in Newark) for a packed house in a hot spot—and their first winning season in seven years.

In downtown Portland, Oregon, JELD-WEN Field, home of the MLS Portland Timbers, also has no dedicated parking, but receives extra service from the local metro system on game days. To sweeten the deal, season tickets—which have sold out every year since the renovated stadium opened and have a waiting list of thousands—include a transit pass. 

 

 

4. Make it the place to be

More people in the building means more energy. Barclays Center demonstrates the difference between a typical sporting venue and an urban focal point where sports are the anchoring attraction. Home to the NBA Brooklyn Nets and soon the NHL New York Islanders, Barclays Center was designed to include amenities that broaden the appeal — four bar-lounges, three clubs, and the 40/40 CLUB & Restaurant by American Express make the venue a hotspot for nightlife and keep the place buzzing with celebrities and fans. In the Nets’ first season in the new facility, ticket sales increased 23 percent over the previous year, jumping from dead last over half of the teams in the league.

 

 

5. Make the home team feel at home

The quality of team amenities like locker rooms and training facilities makes a big difference in a team’s morale and self-image, which players carry into the field and into every play. Ultra-modern technology, high-end design finishes, and institutional identity imagery all contribute to athletes’ sense of belonging—in a facility, in a tradition, and in contention for their league’s highest honors. When the University of Oregon created the Matthew Knight Arena to replace a legendary basketball temple, it was critical that the facility modernize to the utmost while embodying the legacy of the previous building and the Ducks.

 

 

6. Get people excited

Venues that combine iconic architecture, local flavor and active public spaces give fans a stronger sense of connection and excitement. The dramatic post-Hurricane Katrina restoration of the Louisiana (now Mercedes-Benz) Superdome in New Orleans forever connected city and venue, building a reputation as one of the toughest away-game locations in the NFL. In 2010 the owners went a step further, adding Champions Square, a new public space conceived as the venue’s “front porch.” Designed in the tradition of New Orleans’ famous public squares, Champion Square hosts concerts prior to games, with the street festival atmosphere brewing excitement until fans fill the stadium and create what has been called the best home field advantage in the NFL.

Related Stories

BAS and Security | May 26, 2022

Can your intelligent building outsmart hackers?

ESD's security services studio leader Coleman Wolf offers tips, advice, and lessons for protecting real estate assets from cyberattacks.

Sports and Recreational Facilities | May 26, 2022

WNBA practice facility will offer training opportunities for female athletes and youth

The Seattle Storm’s Center for Basketball Performance will feature amenities for community youth, including basketball courts, a nutrition center, and strength and conditioning training spaces.

Multifamily Housing | May 25, 2022

9 noteworthy multifamily developments to debut in 2022

A 1980s-era shopping mall turned mixed-use housing and a mid-rise multifamily tower with unusual rowhomes highlight the innovative multifamily developments to debut recently.

Coronavirus | May 20, 2022

Center for Green Schools says U.S. schools need more support to fight COVID-19

  The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council released a new report detailing how school districts around the country have managed air quality within their buildings during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regulations | May 20, 2022

Biden’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge aims to reduce COVID-⁠19 spread

The Biden Administration recently launched the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge that calls on all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations to adopt strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Building Team | May 20, 2022

Caltech breaks ground on a new center to study climate and sustainability

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) recently broke ground on its Resnick Sustainability Resource Center.

Laboratories | May 20, 2022

Brutalist former Berkeley Art Museum transformed into modern life science lab

After extensive renovation and an addition, the former Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley campus reopened in May 2022 as a modern life science lab building.

Sports and Recreational Facilities | May 19, 2022

Northern Arizona University opens a new training center for its student athletes

In Flagstaff, Ariz. Northern Arizona University (NAU) has opened its new Student-Athlete High Performance Center. 

Energy-Efficient Design | May 19, 2022

Shipping containers used to build Research Triangle Park’s first community gathering space

Shipping containers were the prominent building material used to construct Boxyard RTP, the first public community and gathering place in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP). 

Mixed-Use | May 19, 2022

Seattle-area project will turn mall into residential neighborhood

A recently unveiled plan will transform a 463,000 sf mall into a mixed-use destination site in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Wash.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category




halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: