Improving communities through sport

Building a Sense of Arrival at Sports Complexes

ETOWN Sports Park

When you walk into Elizabethtown Sports Park in Elizabethtown, KY, you know you have arrived at somewhere special. You’re greeted by a warm, yet majestic archway, lined with stone columns and a large sign above that says “baseball pavilion”. Once in the complex, guests enter an inviting common area with wayfinding to help them navigate the 130-acre complex. The venue is an engaging mix of red bricks and the lush green of each field. When you are at E-town Sports Park, you know you’re in a place unlike any other and one primed for baseball (also soccer and lacrosse.)

Create a legacy in your community

Having such an iconic setting pays dividends. E-town Sports Park consistently receives high ratings from guests and is home to youth baseball’s most highly competitive and attended tournaments.

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Each day, guests arrive at sports, recreation, and event facilities and make a decision. The decision is based in the emotions that are evoked from the environment they enter. If it’s an inviting, energetic, and easy to navigate one, the likelihood of increased visits soar. The absence of this environment causes facilities to fall short of their definition of success.

Our sports venue design experts understand the importance of building a great sense of arrival for guests when entering a facility. Below are four sports facility design features that are critical to engaging guests from the moment they walk through the door (or drive onto the complex in some cases).

Focus on the Flow Path

The guest experience with your venue starts long before they sit down in the stands. It starts when they get off the highway. Sports venue operators must consider guests path starting at that point. How easy is it for them to get from the highway to your parking lot? What’s the path from the parking lot to the facility? How easy is it for guests to navigate from the entrance to all parts of your venue? A path with these considerations in mind must be established during the design phase of the project. You want the path from the highway to the stands to be as seamless as if guests were going to their own homes, but twice as exciting. While this may appear to be a lofty goal, the closer you come to accomplishing it in your design, the more likely you are to build the type experience that stands out for athletes and their families.

Create an Authentic Experience

The average AAU basketball team plays in a variety of events, including tournaments and showcases, from February to July. This means lots of gyms, week after week. If you want your venue to stand out, you must build elements into your design that set it apart. This counts for any sport. When Cornerstone Park in Starkville, MS is complete, it will feature a plaza area that will pay homage to James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell, a legendary Negro League baseball player and hometown hero. A statue of the Hall of Famer will be located in the center of the plaza. The plaza and the Cool Papa Bell statue indicates to guests that they are in a place that honors both baseball and its local legacy, which sets the tone for a great experience.  

Clear Wayfinding

Nothing dictates a guest experience like navigating a sports complex. Challenges in navigation, even if they are eventually solved, will leave an unshakeable impression on visitors. Clear wayfinding, and lots of it, is a must for your sports venue. This is where understanding the needs of your guests is critical. Look at your site plan for your venue and examine the points where guests could get lost. These are the problem areas where wayfinding is needed. Wayfinding must be specific. It must answer the anticipated question. Ultimately, your wayfinding must be the signage version of a physical guide who is available at the very moment a guest needs them and provides the precise right answer to get them to where they want to go. Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, OH uses technology to guide guests. A digital wayfinding system helps them find their destination among the 145,000 square feet of sports and entertainment space. The kiosk feature QR codes that when scanned direct you to your precise location. The system doubles as a platform for advertisers.

Quality Gathering and Social Spaces

When athletes and families come to your sports complex, they may not immediately be entering the competitive area. Also, guests often need a break from competitive areas to recharge, take phone calls, or utilize WIFI, among many other activities. Having a gathering area in your venue provides that secondary space. This area may even be designed to overlook game action so that you don’t have to miss the competition.

Sports facility design defines the guest experience. It’s critical that your facility design is optimized to comply with sport and comfort standards and creates a great experience. To learn more or to tell us about an upcoming project, contact us or call us today at 727-474-3845.

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