What are top sports clubs prioritising when choosing sites for training centres? Location is number one. Ease of access and privacy are important, with most clubs opting to train at an alternative venue to their stadium, keeping the pitch at its optimum level for matches. Shelter and wind conditions are important for the key match pitches.
Building training facilities away from the main stadium usually results in more space and some level of privacy. The training field should have the same surface and orientation as the stadium field. Coaches want to practice in conditions as similar as possible to match day, including where the sun appears in the sky. Visual cues can be important in some sports, so coaches still like to practice in the stadium when possible.
These larger sites need masterplanning to establish the siting of pitches, security, access and egress, landscaping and the facilities within the building. The topography of the land, its immediate setting and the landscape all have an impact on the architectural element.
There may be opportunities for training centres to be available for community / commercial hire when not used by the team. For big clubs the training centre is the day to day office where the club is run from, so it is not only a training facility. It will usually be operational seven days a week with academy and weekend sessions. Smaller clubs may only require part-time use and can hire out spaces at other times.
Some clubs run foundations where members of the public are invited to partake in educational sessions and which can be run from dedicated suites within the facility. Fan events are often moved to a small stadium nearby rather than trying to adapt the training facility to spectator use. Manchester City’s mini Etihad next to the main stadium points the way here.
Design by stakeholder
Gather information from end-users – team managers, coaches, strength coach, equipment manager, recreation manager and so on – to establish their requirements.
The internal layout of the facility can be based on how athletes prepare and use equipment, from changing in the locker room to various training regimes, such as weights, and team meetings. Equipment repair (e.g. for ice hockey sticks) may require a working area.
Coaches want appropriate dining facilities for the athletes and chefs who know about sports diets, but these same kitchens can support catering to the public for catered events to earn revenue out of season.
Coaches also demand that their athletes are well looked after, from receiving the best medical treatment if injured, to help with their personal circumstances. Athletes get injured and the training facility is where they do their rehab. Athletic training and strength building is now bridged by hydrotherapy. When trying to attract top players, the facilities also need to provide a wow factor.
Because of the wide use of video in coaching, outdoor training areas need to be connected in some way to the meeting rooms in a facility building. Ideally, coaches will have multiple camera positions to film practice and this footage is sent back in real time to an editing suite so that it can be ready to review immediately. Depending on distances, the connection may be wired (fibre) or wireless.
PLANNING YOUR NEXT STADIUM – TRAINING FACILITIES PART TWO
PLANNING YOUR NEXT STADIUM – ROOF DESIGN