The city of Arlington, Texas has put forward plans to build the country’s largest eSports stadium, announcing the move today in a joint statement with global architecture studio Populous and Esports Venues, LLC. If everything goes as planned, the Arlington Convention Center will be converted into a 100,000-square-foot, eSports-exclusive arena rebranded as Esports Stadium Arlington. While eSports are rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S., high-profile events have typically been held in established sports venues and lack the dedicated destination stadiums that their more physical counterparts can claim. Populous is known for its more traditional sports architecture projects, but the collaboration makes sense, especially as the firm released a proposal for a speculative “esports venue of the future” at 2017’s South by Southwest (SXSW). Through a $10 million investment, Arlington and Esports Venues will transform the convention center into a new stadium that can seat up to 1,000 spectators. The transformed stadium will also hold gaming, retail and social spaces, as well as a broadcast studio and VIP hospitality areas. Besides being the country’s largest eSports venue (Blizzard had launched their own smaller project in October of last year), Populous and Arlington are pitching the new stadium as a model of adaptive reuse that other convention centers and stadiums around the country can follow. Arlington is banking on the growth of eSports to fuel demand at the new location, as the funding for the project is expected to be paid through event revenue, naming rights and lease payments from Esports Venues. It’s not a dangerous wager, either, as the value of the global esports industry is expected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020, and dedicated eSports venues have been popping up across South Korea and China for years. Designing an eSports stadium does present a few unique opportunities, according to Brian Mirakian, senior principal at Populous, especially as matches could potentially run for several hours at a time. “Because of the length of the event, the way that we see the concourse environments in traditional venues is mainly for circulation. We see the concourse as more of a place for social migration and entertainment,” Mirakian told AN. “Sightlines are very different in esports events, and fans want to be higher up in the seating bowl instead of closer to the stage so they can see the screen more clearly. The demographic is different, the demands are different, and the premium experiences are different.” Esports Stadium Arlington is expected to open later this year.
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The West Coast’s ginned-up professional sports team expansion atmosphere has finally spread to Seattle, where Los Angeles–based developer Oak View Group and architects Populous are looking to renovate the city’s storied KeyArena with the hope of bringing several professional sports teams to town. After years of trying to build a totally new stadium in a different neighborhood in anticipation of a new National Hockey League (NHL) franchise, city leaders changed course in 2017, opting instead to greenlight the renovation of the historic KeyArena complex. The change of plans worked—after the city approved the renovation plan, the NHL announced it would bring a new team to Seattle for the 2020 season, cementing KeyArena as the lynchpin of a revitalized Seattle Center sports district. Populous will repurpose and expand the existing arena, which was designed by architect Paul Thiry in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21 Exposition. The arena hosted the Seattle Supersonics NBA team until the franchise relocated in 2008. The arena is still in use, however, and currently hosts Seattle’s WNBA franchise, among other tenants. The arena was refurbished and expanded once before in 1994 by NBBJ when the architects dropped the arena floor 35 feet below street level and boosted seating capacity by 3,000 seats. Still, problems with inadequate sight lines from the stands, limited opportunities for concession offerings, few club spaces, and deferred maintenance lingered at the venue. With the forthcoming redesign, the architects are seeking to rectify those shortfalls while preserving the iconic spaceship-like structure by digging 15 feet further down in order to expand the facility to 600,000 square feet in size and add even more seating. The new designs would create flexible seating configurations that will resolve the sightline issues while also providing enough seating to host the NHL team as well as the potentially forthcoming NBA team. In all, the new arena is planned to hold up to 17,100 seats for hockey games, 18,350 seats for basketball games, and between 16,940 to 19,100 seats for music concerts. The project is billed as a top-shelf preservation effort as well, and will be designed to meet the historic preservation standards for building restoration. The end result will be a more-or-less wholly new arena, capped by a restored sculptural concrete roof. An environmental impact review is currently underway for the renovations. The City of Seattle hopes to finish the review sometime this year so that construction can commence and the renovated facilities can open in time for the 2020 NHL season.
As the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea dazzles with massive drone displays and American triple axels, spectators in the main Olympic stadium have been left out in the cold. The $109 million, pentagonal stadium has 35,000 seats but no roof or heating elements, and will only be used four times before being torn down. The decision to build a low-cost arena designed for planned obsolescence isn’t a crazy idea. With the total cost of the games approaching nearly $13 billion, keeping a 35,000-seat stadium running when PyeongChang County only has 40,000 residents was prohibitively expensive. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has warned that Olympic venues can be become “white elephants” after the games end, as they historically have within other hosting cities. Although the South Korean government had hoped the Olympics would turn the snowy and mountainous PyeongChang into a winter sports destination for tourists, enthusiasm within the country for winter sports has been particularly muted. Because no viable alternatives were proposed, PyeongChang Olympic Stadium was designed to be disposable and will only host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Games before being demolished. breaking records. Polycarbonate walls were installed at the stadium’s top levels to shield spectators from the wind, but guests were given blankets, heating pads, and raincoats to keep warm and gas heaters were installed between the aisles. Seven people were repeatedly treated for frostbite after an hour-long opening event in November, where temperatures hovered around 12 degrees Fahrenheit, though they had risen to the low 20’s by the time of the opening ceremony proper. Disposable, temporary, and even movable stadiums have been in demand lately, as cities around the world grapple with the challenges (and costs) of repurposing single-use venues once an event ends. Qatar recently unveiled their Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, which uses removable shipping containers as building blocks so that the arena can be moved after the World Cup. The 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony will take place on February 25, 2018, while the Winter Paralympics will run from March 8 until March 18.
The University of Idaho (UI) in Moscow, Idaho, has partnered with the state’s timber industry, and Portland-based Opsis Architecture, to construct their newest multi-use basketball arena out of mass timber. The Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) recently purchased the naming rights for the arena for $10 million, meaning the arena is now well on its way to breaking ground, with $34 million of the needed $45 million accounted for. With a 4,200-seat basketball court, practice court, offices, locker rooms, conference spaces for both the men and women’s basketball programs, and volleyball courts, university officials have expressed hope that the arena would jumpstart athletic fundraising, as well as architectural and engineering interest in the school. In addition to the sports facilities, the 70,000-square-foot space will double as convention space and also be used to alleviate overcrowding in other buildings on campus. Designed to showcase the massive curvilinear roof that drapes itself over the building, Opsis has chosen to leave the structural timber elements exposed throughout the project. V-shaped timber columns are on prominent display above the entrance, while the underside of the roof features a curving lattice of wooden beams that’s visible from everywhere in the building. Light wood finishes have been used in the few interior areas where the structural elements are hidden, and the building’s exterior will be clad in metal paneling. If completed, the ICCU Arena will be the largest mass timber arena in the country, and the ICCU would retain naming rights for the next 35 years. Opsis is shooting for a LEED Silver certification or higher. The national firm Hastings + Chivetta has signed on as the interior architect / Sports planner, and KPFF are the consulting structural engineers. Assuming fundraising continues at the same pace, UI officials expect construction to complete in 2020, and possibly as soon as 2019. The accelerated timetable makes sense considering the advantages in construction speed that mass timber provides, especially as the materials would be locally sourced.
There’s nothing more American than sports, so just in time for America's birthday, here’s a look at some of the biggest stadium projects in the works—from the world's most expensive stadium to a celebrity-backed soccer field. Ford Field (Detroit Lions) The Lions’ Ford Field Stadium will be undergoing a $44 million renovation of its interiors in a project led by Detroit-based Rossetti. “Our goal has been to bring the fan experience up to standards and beyond while customizing the design for Detroit,” said Jim Renne, sports principal at Rossetti and lead designer of the original stadium. Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles Football Club) The 22,000-seat and $250 million stadium for the LAFC is now under construction. Designed by Gensler in a "European-style" arrangement with steeply-raked and sweeping seating areas, the open-air stadium is meant to bring viewers in a closer relationship to the field and players. Oakland Raiders stadium The Oakland Raider's have purchased a 62-acre-site in Las Vegas for their new stadium, which will be designed by Kansas City, Missouri–based Manica Architecture. The stadium, which is expected to cost $77.5 million, will seat up to 65,000 people. The NFL team's move to the new stadium follows two years of drama and they plan to move in 2020, just in time for the start of the season. Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland Cavaliers) As one of the oldest National Basketball Association (NBA) stadiums in use, the Quicken Loans Arena will get a $140 million refurbishment from SHoP Architects and Rossetti. The new design will see a new glazed facade which stretches the stadium’s footprint closer to the street edge, as well as an increase in space at the entrance and exit gangway areas. “The $140 million transformation, half of which the Cavalier’s will be paying, ensures that this public facility will remain competitive in the future,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a press release. David Beckham's Major League Soccer stadium Soccer star David Beckham is making moves with a Populous-designed, 25-000 seat stadium. What's catching attention, however, is not the celebrity attachment: it's that there won't be parking. Instead, fans are expected to use Metromover, Metrorail, water taxis, ridesharing, and plain-old walking to get to the stadium. LA Rams stadium Once completed in 2019, this stadium will be the world's most expensive, clocking in at a whopping $2.66 billion. Dallas-based HKS designed the new LA Rams stadium with more than 36,000 aluminum panels, which will have 20 million perforations punched into them. The perforations in the metal skin respond to the variable Southern California climate without the need for an HVAC system. This creates an effect of being outside, according to HKS. RFK Stadium In a $500 million vision to revamp the sites around the RFK Memorial Stadium after it's demolished in 2019, Events D.C., the city’s semi-independent convention and sports authority, unveiled plans to build it up with three multi-purpose athletic fields, a 47,000-square-foot food market hall, and a 350,000-square-foot indoor sports complex. “The RFK Stadium Armory-Campus—currently under-utilized—is poised to be transformed into a vibrant place that connects D.C. to the Anacostia River,” OMA partner Jason Long told the Washington Business Journal. Villanova University basketball stadium The university's basketball fans will have a new stadium to cheer on the Wildcats for the 2018-2019 season (in time for March Madness) when the renovation designed by Philadelphia-based EwingCole is completed. There will be a new lobby, concourse, and hall of fame greeting visitors. “It was important to Villanova that we celebrate the uniqueness of The Pavilion while creating an unmatched Division I basketball experience for the players and the fans,” said Bill McCullough, principal of EwingCole’s sports practice, in a prepared statement. The Texas Rangers' new Arlington, Texas ballpark Dallas-based architecture firm HKS has been chosen to design a new ballpark for the Texas Rangers baseball team. The stadium will be constructed as a public-private partnership between the team and the City of Arlington: It will serve as the Rangers’ home field and as a multipurpose arena for high school, college, and international sports. The Portland Timbers' stadium expansion Allied Works Architecture (AWA) has unveiled designs for a $50 million expansion to the 91-year-old soccer stadium in Portland, Oregon’s Providence Park, home to the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns soccer teams. The stadium expansion, according to information on the AWA website, is conceptually inspired by William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and will aim to add roughly 4,000 seats to the existing stadium complex.
Tokyo government approves Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium while controversy continues
Despite courting backlash for being imposingly large and costly, Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium have been green-lighted by the Tokyo government. Officials maintain that further modifications at this stage of proceedings would only incur further expenses from construction delays. In July last year, Hadid acquiesced to criticism against her original stadium, announcing new designs with economizing modifications promising to be more “efficient, user-focused, adaptable and sustainable.” A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects told Dezeen that the structure would sport “a lightweight, tensile fabric” to “reduce the weight and materials of the roof to give it greater flexibility as an indoor and outdoor venue.” However, Hadid’s firm declined to disclose whether the size of the venue would also be scaled back. The two massive arches forming the backbone of the roof, which critics have billed an unneeded frill, will prevail. To slash construction costs from the initial $3 billion, officials have proposed delaying building a retracting roof until after the Olympics and making 15,000 of the stadium’s 80,000 seats temporary. “We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more contemporary grandstands,” said John Coates, Vice President of the International OIympics Committee. “It may be that there are new venues and existing venues at the moment that are dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two.” Nevertheless, the price tag continues to hover at $2 billion due in part to the fact that use of Hadid’s designs requires the demolition of the existing 1964 stadium designed by architect Mitsuo Katayama. Pritzker laureates such as Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have been among Hadid’s most vocal critics, themselves one of eleven finalists in the 2008 competition. In an interview with Dezeen at the groundbreaking for her 1000 Museum Tower in Miami last year, the Iraqi-British architect posited: “They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium.” However, soaring construction costs have been reported across the board, with the committee reviewing designs for ten Olympic products after bids for one facility came in at 15 times the estimated cost. Although Hadid’s stadium has received the go-ahead, city and central government continue to hotly debate how to split the $2 billion bill.
Guy Hollaway Architects announces world’s first multi-story indoor skate park in UK seaside town; calls it “controlled adrenaline facility”
In a bid to keep restless youth from fleeing the sleepy seaside town of Folkestone, UK, for more hedonistic pastures, Guy Holloway Architects has conceptualized what is allegedly the “world’s first” multi-story indoor skatepark. The concept aims to create a larger skateable area without increasing the building footprint, and opening up new stunt possibilities by combining different floor heights. Those who dabble in trial cycling, boxing, and wall climbing are covered, too. Although the architects concede that installing continuous graded floors will be “an engineer’s nightmare,” with adequate planning, the facility can become not only an exemplary urban sports center but also an architecturally impressive edifice. Four stories will stand above ground. Below grade will be a subterranean boxing ring—the soon-to-be domicile of a local boxing club. Two undulating floor plates create a series of giant skateable bowls on the upper floors, whose sculptural form is visible from below. Brave skaters and bikers can plunge 16 feet to the level below. Meanwhile, the building’s outer skin will be transparent to communicate the hive of activity within. For the less adrenaline-inclined, ramps and industrial lifts are provided. The building, according to Hollaway, is a “controlled adrenaline facility.” The undulating surfaces provide ramps, moguls, and ledges for executing nosegrinds and tailslides, resulting in a cave-like entrance hall supported by curving concrete columns. “As you come in you’ll see the belly of the blow above you and hear the wheels of skaters above your head as well,” Hollaway told Dezeen. Collaborating with skatepark designers and “famous skaters,” the British architect is designing the building to lure beginners as well as top-notch talent. The team has bandied about ideas to replicate the best parts of the world’s skateparks and transplant them indoors.“We see this as an opportunity to put Folkestone on the map. To the best of our knowledge, this has never been done anywhere else in the world,” said Hollaway. The skatepark will occupy the site of a former bingo hall in the center of Folkestone, which is currently undergoing regeneration plans after its popularity spiked last year by dint of the Folkestone Triennial arts festival. Of the role his skatepark could play in this goal, Hollaway explained to Dezeen: “If you make childhood more meaningful through education, sport, and recreation, then it’s more likely they’ll invest in their town in the future and stay and maybe bring up their children in that town—that is what true regeneration is about.” If designs are approved, construction is set to begin in September this year and finish in 2016.