If a case is established for funding the venue, it’s time to hire an architect to design it and perhaps to provide a masterplan for a venue neighbourhood where fan zones and pre-event shows can attract customers early to a game. Architects with a sports or entertainment specialism can maximise the income earned from the venue during its lifetime by defining the mix of VIP, retail and non-matchday facilities.
A venue’s site determines what is possible and architects get best advantage from the available geography. For example the London Olympic Stadium’s position on an island was exploited to manage crowd control and security.
The location may demand certain types of transport – large car parks for an out of town site or public transport to inner-city stadiums. It may also point to other uses for the stadium, for example as a fire station or a health centre, which can attract funding and contribute to ongoing operational costs.
The outer zone of a stadium site can be secured to become a ‘fifth tier’. This is a fenced-in area which ticketed fans enter through access control and can then wander around before a game, meeting with friends, enjoying pre-game entertainment (family, concert, retail) and food and beverage.
A venue that makes an impact on the eye is ahead of the game when it comes to attracting sponsorship, including naming rights, and top events. This applies to the building’s external appearance but also to the impression made on television by the seating bowl, the pitch or stage setting.
Architects can also imagine a building into its setting, helping convince the public and planners about its suitability. Simulations can check crowd and traffic movement for different capacities. A full economic and demand analysis should be undertaken and fans kept informed at all times.
As well as designing a visually iconic building, architects define the fan experience by providing great views from anywhere in the seating bowl and ensuring that it’s easy for fans to move around to enjoy the atmosphere and spend their money.
The engineering and construction team should be talking to you at this point about using building information management (BIM) software to lower the cost of construction management by, for example, optimising cable runs. The building information data should be available for the operations team, especially concerning the most efficient operation of any plant.
Keeping the energy requirements of the building low are vital for future profitability so budget for harvesting solar and wind energy and grey water from the roof to store in tanks for flushing WCs and irrigation of the pitch and landscaping. Is the architect offering BREEAM, GSAS or LEED certification?