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ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

By Karim Muri

A report by Prophecy Market Insights reveals that the sports facilities market, valued at approximately $136.8 billion in 2024, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 24.30%, exceeding $991.7 billion by 2034. According to the report, this market’s growth is driven by increasing sports participation, rising sports tourism, and a growing emphasis on sports and recreation. Stadium and arena projects are part of this market growth, with Sports Business Journal reporting that more than 280 stadium and arena projects (new and major renovations) are slated to wrap up by 2025 or later.

As new builds and renovations of athletic facilities continue to ramp up, insulated metal panels (IMPs) are becoming a staple in the construction of these facilities. IMPs consist of an outer skin that serves as either metal wall siding or metal roofing, and an inner face that acts as a metal interior finish or liner, with insulation sandwiched between these metal skins.

From stadiums to training centers to aquatic centers to ice rinks and more, insulated metal panels are a popular design choice for sports venues because of their strong thermal performance, design flexibility, durability, ease of installation, and more.

Thermal Performance

Large scale sports facilities consume a lot of energy; lighting, scoreboards, and HVAC systems all contribute to the facilities’ energy consumption. One study found that a medium-sized stadium housing 55,000 seats consumed an average of 10,000 MWh of energy per year, leading to approximately 3,600 tons of carbon emissions.

League schedules, owner expectations, eagerness of teams to practice and compete in new facilities, and fan anticipation all contribute to the accelerated construction schedules of sports venues.

To help reduce sports facility energy consumption and carbon emissions, architects and designers are specifying IMPs that provide high thermal performance. These metal panels feature thermal resistance ratings of over R-8.0 per inch.

The thermal insulation capabilities of IMPs make them ideal in the construction of large-scale buildings like athletic facilities. Featuring a full air and water barrier and a core of continuous, rigid insulation, IMPs offer an advantage in thermal efficiency over many traditional wall assembly materials for the same wall thickness. The built-in insulation in the metal panels creates an excellent barrier against heat transfer, helping sports venues reduce energy costs, meet increasingly stringent energy codes, and maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

Lowering Carbon Footprints

With growing concerns about the impact of building construction on the environment, sustainable building practices have moved to the forefront of construction and renovation projects in every sector, including the sports industry. One strategy to address how sports facilities can be more environmentally friendly is to reduce their energy usage. To reduce carbon footprints, architects and contractors are embracing building practices use sustainable building materials.

IMPs are increasingly being used to construct and renovate athletic facilities to lower the environmental impact of these facilities. IMPs can contribute to a lower carbon footprint of sports venues, helping these large-scale buildings achieve decarbonization targets by providing continuous insulation that is airtight and moisture resistant.

With insulation that meets energy efficiency code requirements, insulated panels can also help building projects earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s green building rating system.

Colby College’s Harold Alfond Recreation and Athletics Center demonstrates how IMPs can be used in the construction of athletic facilities to reduce carbon emissions. The inherent structural capacity of IMPs allowed for a reduction in steel structure, enabling the elimination of 22.7 tons of steel support girts, significantly lowering the associated embodied carbon.

Insulated Metal Panels
Colby College’s Harold Alfond Recreation and Athletics Center: The use of IMPs at Colby College eliminated 22.7 tons of steel support girts, lowering the facility’s embodied carbon. (Photo: Kingspan Insulated Panels North America)

Design Flexibility

Sports facilities, whether they are venues for pro athletics, college athletics, or other types of athletic activities, all require a distinctive, on brand look.

IMPs allow architects to design buildings that reflect their respective brands. Offering numerous design possibilities, IMPs come in standard and custom colors, a variety of textures and finishes, and an extensive selection of innovative panel profiles. These panels can also be arranged both vertically and horizontally to help create visually striking structures.

The design possibilities offered by IMPs enable architects to maintain style without compromising durability, practicality or performance.

Durability

Sports stadiums and other athletic buildings must stand up to the wear and tear of fan foot traffic and weather conditions. Designed to last for decades with minimal upkeep, IMPs help buildings maintain excellent air- and water-tightness, as well as high thermal performance, over an extended period.

This durability is critical for sports venues like the Daytona International Speedway, which welcomes over 100,000 fans each year for the Daytona 500 and other races at the track. Renovated in 2016, IMPs were used in this project to help the facility stand up to the extreme foot traffic and the hot Florida sun.

Insulated Metal Panel
Durable and aesthetic IMPs in shimmering white and bold colors were used to create an eye-catching exterior for the Daytona International Speedway. More than 125,000 square feet of IMPs were used throughout the exterior and interior of the facility. (Photo: Kingspan Insulated Panels North America)

Ease Of Installation

Building construction and renovation projects in the sports industry often have tight construction timelines that must be met. League schedules, owner expectations, eagerness of teams to practice and compete in new facilities, and fan anticipation all contribute to accelerated construction schedules of sports venues.

IMPs are an all-in-one solution that can be erected quickly, when compared with traditional multi-component wall assemblies. Requiring only one type of installer, IMPs create a weathertight building envelope in reduced time, fast-tracking construction to help prevent construction delays.

According to the Metal Construction Association’s (MCA) Selection Guideline for Insulated Metal Panels, IMPs can be erected at a rate of up to 5,000 sq. ft. per eight-hour shift by a four-man crew on an industrial project, and up to 1,100 sq. ft. per eight-hour shift by a four-man crew on an architectural project.

Accelerating speed of build with IMPs creates construction efficiencies that result in labor cost savings, faster dry-in of a project, and shorter project schedules.

Insulated Metal Panels
The 18,000-seat Chase Stadium features 40,000 square feet of IMPs in the team’s signature black and pink colors. (Photo: Kingspan Insulated Panels North America)

Speed of build was critical in the construction of Chase Stadium, home to Major League Soccer Team Inter Miami CF. The selection of IMPs in this project played a key role in ensuring the stadium met its 10-month construction deadline and was ready for the team’s debut in early 2020.

Offering excellent thermal performance, design flexibility, durability, and ease of installation, insulated metal panels are increasingly becoming a popular building envelope solution for athletic facilities.

Muri is Vice President of Marketing Services and Strategy Development for Kingspan Insulated Panels North America. Muri has led strategic marketing in the construction products market for nearly 20 years. His global experience includes leadership roles in Australia and the United States, working in both the residential and commercial building sectors.

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Facility Executive Magazine