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By Brian Elliott and Courtney Schmitz

In the ever-evolving landscape of live sports, the demand for immersive and engaging fan experiences has reached new heights and has the sports arena renovation market booming. Seeking to revitalize aging facilities, owners of athletic venues—from MLB ballparks to NCAA arenas—are looking for ways to create more inviting and varied live sports settings.

Companies like Sightline Commercial Solutions have been called on to help transform both the spatial and experiential aspects of stadiums and arenas across the country by creating alternative types of viewing options that go beyond traditional VIP and Club Level spaces. The following are three ways venues can optimize historically underutilized areas and boost attendance and profitability.

Field-Level/End-Zone Experiences

Fans love being down on the field because it allows them to feel close to the action and their favorite teams. At Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, the North End Zone was recently renovated with VIP seating and custom engineered glass divider rails to create a comfortable and exclusive atmosphere for fans. Additionally, helical glass railing on floating walls at the 200/250 Loge Levels and 500/600 Terrace Levels offer unobstructed views of the scoreboard and the field from both sidelines.

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End-zone seating at Caesars Supderdome offers stunning views of the field. (Photo: Sightline Commercial Solutions)

At the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, all-new seating risers were added to the lower bowl platforms at both ends of Texas Christian University’s (TCU) basketball court to accommodate fans wanting a courtside experience. They provide a permanent look and feel but can be dismantled and moved into storage based on the needs of different events.

Other venues that have recently updated or added field-level seating include Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. In Miami, more than 2,100 square feet of seating platforms comprise four luxury seating sections in the Field Club areas. The project in Charlotte involved pairing seating risers with Griprail, lush seating and low-maintenance composite decking to create an exclusive and versatile viewing area.

Infill And Modular Seating

Custom infills have become a big trend in stadiums and offer a practical solution for right-sizing capacity and optimizing venue utilization and revenue. With the integration of premium components and access to special services, these systems can be used to convert areas of a venue that have historically been underutilized into preferred seating for fans seeking a unique viewing experience.

At Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada, two main seating areas were replaced with a customized platform system to create seven levels of specialized viewing decks that offer spectators nearly twice as much personal space as before. At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, a custom-tailored seating riser mounted on an automated liftgate allows the section to be raised to allow equipment and emergency vehicle access to the field.

Other examples of venues utilizing custom infill include:

  • PNC Stadium (Houston): A set of standard bleachers was transformed into a tiered VIP section using 200 portable all-aluminum platforms outfitted with branded tables, drink rail and stylish cable rail to accommodate more than 1,100 fans.
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Indianapolis): To allow the facility to be quickly and easily transformed into a hockey arena, concert venue or stadium for other events, a seven-tier removable vomitory infill comprised of more than 500 custom and ADA accessible viewing platforms was installed. It is designed to fit between a newly constructed dasher board system for the ice rink setup and concrete stadia that has existing fixed seating.
  • Petco Park (San Diego): To deliver an ultra-VIP experience, a custom platform infill was added with larger tiers for more spacious and premium viewing, along with custom guardrails made of anodized aluminum with acrylic infill specially engineered to support TV screens. This section also features cushy seating, cupholders and tables with cloth coverings for a one-of-a-kind day at the ballpark.

Standing Supporter Sections

Inspired by European football (a.k.a. soccer), one of the fastest growing trends across sporting venues of all types is the addition of standing supporter sections. These designated areas allow the most avid fans to stand and cheer on their favorite teams in unity. Ideal for filling otherwise underutilized spaces of a venue, these sections create a boisterous atmosphere and a vibrant visual spectacle due to the banners, flags and other team paraphernalia often displayed to show loyalty to the home team.

This trend was introduced to the U.S. when standing rail system with integrated seating was installed at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Featuring safety railing and folding seats that enable supporters to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, the North End Terrace houses the spirited fans of the Los Angeles Football Club. A fascia mounted metal railing frame angles back slightly, creating a comfortable lean rail for standing spectators while also increasing headroom for seated patrons. The slim profile tip-up seats provide comfort and maximum standing room for enthusiastic supporters, as well as enhanced crowd control.

Standing supporter sections to the U.S. at Banc of California Stadium. (Photo: Sightline Commercial Solutions)

This approach to railing has quickly become a mainstay at soccer stadiums across the U.S., including GEODIS Park (Nashville), Lower.com Field (Columbus, OH) and TQL Stadium (Cincinnati). Standing rail also is popping up in collegiate sports facilities as student standing sections and socializing areas.

Still relatively new to the U.S., standing supporter sections require detailed customization and the consideration of a variety of comfort factors and safety elements such as pitch, maneuverability and egress. These systems call for specialized engineering so be sure to enlist a supplier with the experience and capabilities to effectively navigate the nuances required for these applications.

From field-level viewing spaces to dedicated supporter sections, today’s sports venues
are delivering premium viewing options for spectators of all types. By harnessing innovative design principles and cutting-edge technology, these creative solutions not only drive additional attendance and revenue but enable fans to forge unforgettable memories.

Brian Elliott is National Project Sales Manager and Courtney Schmitz is Regional Sales Manager for Sightline Commercial Solutions, a leading fabricator and global supplier of architectural railing, metal, glazing and portable platform solutions for the commercial, sports venue, live entertainment and performing arts industries.

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Facility Executive Magazine