Technology drives stadium projects

February 01, 2001 |

One curious trend pushing professional sports franchises and civic leaders to develop new stadium projects is the wave of audio-visual and interactive "enhancements" to live action. The high-tech amenities increase project complexity-and cabling and electrical costs-say building teams.

Plans for Philadelphia Eagles Stadium, a 65,000-seat venue recently approved by the city planning commission, offer a vivid example of the trend. Described breathlessly by the team as a "technological wonder," the project is envisaged with huge video scoreboards, a zoned sound system and luxury suites with Internet access and high-definition TV.

The design concept is also unique, with a fractured geometry featuring three open-plaza corners for entries and views to the city and into stadium.

The "distributed sound system," developed by consultant Acoustic Dimensions, Dallas, is hoped to reduce echoing and allow for section-specific messaging during games and emergencies. The use of 27-ft.-by-96-ft. LED scoreboards at each end-zone is similar to the concept used at the new Baltimore Ravens facility, but the Eagles stadium will also have video screens on the exterior for latecomers.

Such projects also force building teams to consider the uncertain future of live events, says Patrick Winters, senior associate in the Los Angeles office of project architect NBBJ. "We have an open attitude about what interactivity will mean to stadium design and to football, so we're providing plenty of conduit and raceway. In the not-too-distant future, every spectator may have a Palm Pilot-type device to call up stats and order food."

Developed by KUD International, New York City, for Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, the project is slated for completion in 2003.

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