Life is all about the details. Those little items that inform your opinion or make your time a little more memorable. The same can be said about the design of a sports complex or recreation center. Guests come in daily and spend hours at a time. They form opinions about your facility, partially on the larger parts of their experience (how their team performed or customer service)as well as on smaller, hard to detect details.
In sports complex design, there are several features that serve as indicators of the quality of the venue and can define the guest experience. Below are design details that our sports facility development team has recommended or installed in venues throughout the country.
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The guest experience starts long before they take their seat along the field or court. It starts from the time they get off the exit primarily and takes shape the minute they walk through your entrance. It’s critical to create a warm, welcoming environment in this space. The area should be well-lit for indoor facilities and clearly defined for outdoor facilities. Check-in areas should be centrally located, and wayfinding should descriptive. Essentially, guests should be transported into the world of sports at the entry point and should be able to clearly see steps necessary to find their match.
At The Bridge, a state-of-the-art sports and recreation complex in Bridgeport, WV, much consideration was given to how guests arrived at the facility. The venue wows guests with a large atrium that has clear sight lines to various parts of the facility to go along with definative wayfinding. The design gives guests perspective on the size of the facility, while easily being able to navigate it from the entrance.
Your facility can be intimidating. While it may not seem like that to you, for guests, navigating your facility can be challenging. Clarity in wayfinding is akin to calling a company and having someone route you to the party that you are trying to reach immediately. And it goes beyond an abundance of directional signs. Wayfinding presents opportunities for venues to standout by integrating themes or branding elements. Using technology within wayfinding can separate your facility from the competition as well. For example, Cedar Point Sports Center features a video wayfinding board with a set of QR codes that, when scanned, lead you to your destination.
We all want our venues to be iconic. We want them to stand out in the mind of guests. In the social media age, part of standing out is showing up in news feeds across the country. Facilities must cultivate places within these facilities that physically make guests stop and take a picture. These Instagram-able moments are critical because they further establish a brand identity for the facility. Think the red rose between script font of the Rose Bowl.
Within the SF Network lies several venues with Instagram-able moments worth noting, including:
-The halo board at Cedar Point Sports Center
-The giant baseball at Panama City Beach Sports Center
-The entryway at Champions First Sports Center (giant logo as you enter the facility)
Aside from setting up picture-worthy spots within your venue, there are many opportunities to integrate your brand within the facility. This includes adding logos to courts, wall pads, and curtains for indoor facilities. One of the most unique applications of this idea can be seen at The Bridge, where every weight and workout machine has the logo embossed on it. At Panama City Beach Sports Center lights on their multipurpose fields match the ascent colors of their branding and the baseball field features the logo.
Some facilities such as Morristown Landing, currently under construction in Morristown, TN, plan to integrate branding and local culture. The new facility will be located near an airfield and to connect with the area’s heritage, an airplane featuring the venue’s branding will be placed in the lobby.
Natural Features Lending to Sports Complex Design
The design of your sports complex of recreation center can be influenced by the natural setting as well. One of the best examples of this is Falcon Stadium, home of the United States Air Force Academy’s football team. The stadium sits at the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. It was built into a natural bowl that’s 500 feet below Air Force’s cadet area. The stadium has an unbalanced design with multiple tiers on the western sideline and a single tier on the eastern sideline.
Family Entertainment Centers
Family entertainment centers (FEC’s) are showing up in sports complex throughout the country to keep non-participating family members and parents engaged during long tournament days. These areas are also strong revenue drivers because of their ability to increase per cap spend of event attendees and because they can be used by residents during non-tournament days.
Traditionally, FEC’s have comprised of arcade games and putt-putt courses. Now many are integrating climbing walls and the latest VR games that allow guests to fly, play laser tag, or attack aliens.
Design Details that Detract from the Guest Experience
Just as there are design details that support the guest experience, there are a few that detract from it. This includes:
- Inefficient wayfinding
- An inability to locate the front entrance from the parking lot
- Fields that are not adjacent or do not provide easily shared views
- Non-shaded seating areas
For more information on sports complex design or if you are launching the design & development phase of a sports facility, recreation center, or event venue project, contact us today at 727-474-3845.