Almost as soon as RFK Stadium opened in 1961, it became clear that the stadium was a dud. Football fans complained that the low seating made it difficult to see the entire field. Baseball fans complained that they had to twist in their seats to see the action at home plate. By trying to accommodate two sports, the stadium failed at both. All dozen of the combination football-baseball stadiums built in the U.S. since then have garnered similar complaints. The only one still in use as a dual-sport venue, the Oakland Coliseum, consistently ranks among fans as one of the worst sports arenas on the continent. Yet despite this dismal record, some architects are considering multi-sport venues again. PopSci asked Greg Sherlock, an architect at Kansas City–based Populous, the world's leading stadium-design firm, to give us a look at the future. His concept: a truly transformable stadium, whose modular parts snap together like Legos in custom configurations.
Building new stadiums for one-time sporting events like the Olympics is almost always a waste of resources. The event spaces China built when it hosted the Summer Games in 2008, for example, now mostly sit empty. Sherlock's floating stadium could be towed to any city with a waterfront, installed for the event and shipped away afterward.
Stadium managers could use modular seating sections of different shapes to provide the best seating configuration for any event. The seats for football and soccer games would line up along the sidelines and ends of the field, and seats for baseball games would be angled to face the pitcher's mound.
To preserve the outdoor ambience while still protecting fans from inclement weather, a translucent roof made from a type of plastic called ETFE would open in sections. Individual panels would block wind and rain, while louvers would twist to diffuse a blinding sunset or to create better acoustics for a concert.
Many of today's stadiums, including the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field, run partially on electricity generated by photovoltaics, wind or biodiesel (or plan to). But a floating stadium has an additional source of clean energy: underwater turbines or buoys, which would transform the kinetic energy of the tides, river current or waves into electricity.
Rather than running pipes between barge sections—the pipe interconnects could leak—separate, self-contained barges carrying toilets and other facilities would dock at several locations around the stadium.
MODULAR PLAYING SURFACES
The playing surfaces—a six-inch layer of soil topped with turf for sports such as football and soccer or with a baseball infield, tennis court or other playing field—sit on barges. Movable turf plates aren't unheard of: The entire football field at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona, rolls in and out of the arena in one piece.
Magnetic interlocks could hold the floating panels together within two or three millimeters of each other. To prevent players from tripping on the seam between sections of the field, each plate would be framed with a pressurized silicone gasket that would press up against the neighboring sections and fill the void. Extra soil could then be piled on top for a gapless playing surface.
The driving principle behind stadium-seating design is to get spectators as close to the ball as possible. For a big crowd at a football game, a shallow bowl works well, but for a small tennis match, the nosebleed seats should be pulled in closer. Each row of seats rests on standard, lightweight hydraulic lifts that can make entire sections steeper or shallower with the push of a button.
Sorry but for the Olympics itself the nations who end up hosting it are always the once who promise to spend billions. These hosts want to promote their country and don`t want an old rusting/rotting away stadium from some previous event. Not to mention having to pay the massive costs for shipping it across the ocean (doesn't look exactly sea worthy). Even amateurs can easily design beautiful concepts these days. It doesn't mean it's practical.
I doubt this will ever fly. Limited to seaborne cities, with lost of transport and setup time in between, probably more expensive than any 2 stadiums, doesn't account for differences in popularity, etc, etc.
Cities built 2-sport stadiums because they wanted to build 1 stadium rather than 2. But with this concept, they don't really have one. Even if the stadium parked itself at the city for a whole season of that sport, why then, not just build one? It would probably be cheaper, and located better in terms of traffic. Plus stadiums are used for much more than just the biggest events. There are all kinds of shows, other events that happen year-round in most venues.
Having been to many large sports games myself (football, basketball, hockey, soccer), I also feel that this would never catch on with the fans themselves. Stadiums are more than logistics. They are a place that fans grow to love, to the point of seeing tough grown men cry when they're torn down, to the point where people will pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for one of the seats before it is torn down. You can never accomplish that with traveling stadiums.
All that aside, this stadium doesn't really fix the problem that the author stated, which is that "by trying to accommodate two sports, the stadium failed at both." I think this concept does the same thing, but on an even bigger scale, and that it will fail in all. Every city is different in which sports teams it hosts and how many it hosts, in the number of fans that each should accommodate, locations, costs, etc. I don't feel that there will ever be some kind of fix-all solution like this, even for a major group of cities.
Perhaps efficient adaptable solutions are being promoted, since the next Olympics is to be in Rio and Brazil is a rather money strapped country and there is not much room to build in Rio with such a gigantic population in that city. I believe last estimates of the population of Rio are 21 million or more.
Olympics aside, if the pro sports teams would build their own stadiums, they could have dedicated ones for each sport.
Sadly, this group -- which seemingly avoided the recession completely -- has no intention of ever doing that.
As for the olympics, I doubt that national pride would allow any nation to accept a 'used' stadium.
While some aspects of this concept are limited to specific locale types, overall many of the ideas can be implemented in several venues. Having reconfigurable seats for example expands the possibilities for a one type stadium. I especially like the idea of modular and portable waste systems. This allows waste to be fed directly to a disposal/ energy capture facility.
The next problem will be scheduling ALL the teams and events for a city with the single stadium. It might require building 2 or more to support ALL the activity.
Partial research is not much better than none, Bjorn. Allow me to enlighten you: There is a stadium that is home to both a Major League Baseball team and professional football, that is not in Oakland, and, as I (and thousands of others) can attest, works extremely well for both sports. The name of the venue is the Rogers Centre. It is located in the City of Toronto, a large city with a local market approaching four million, in a country called Canada. Canada is that big country with all the snow and ice, where we say "eh" a lot, and where there are people who speak French in some places, and where lots of hockey players live. It's north of almost anywhere in the lower 48 states. Toronto, specifically the Rogers Centre, is home to Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, who won two World Series championships. It will also be the venue for the Buffalo Bills/Seattle Seahawks game on December 16, 2012. The Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts play their full home schedule every season there. So not only is there another stadium in use as a dual-sport venue, the Rogers Centre actually works very well for both sports. And it has a retractable roof, so it's fully useful year round, and rain-outs are virtually impossible! Fascinating, isn't it. See? Research helps. The world is not composed of The United States and The Ocean. Canada is a country of 35 million people! Many of us buy your magazine. Be nice.