Now that fans can enjoy high-def sports action from their living rooms, stadium owners need to offer more to potential patrons than $8 beer. What can you expect from the stadium of the future? Comfortable seats close to the action, interactive screens that provide real-time game stats, sustainable design, and architecture that directs the roar of the home crowd onto the field.
Check out our animated fly through, below, then
launch the gallery for the six top innovations in the stadium of the future.
For $100 a ticket, fans shouldn’t suffer vanilla architecture. When the 2009 NFL season kicks off, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will have spent more than a billion dollars on a stadium that covers 30 total acres, seats 80,000, and features a 660,800-square-foot single-span roof structure, the world’s longest. The design, by architectural firm HKS, is an icon of big-stadium ambition. The roof can open in a mere 12 minutes. The luxury suites put well-heeled oilmen directly on the field, a first for NFL stadiums. And 180-by-50-foot center-hung HD scoreboards will show replays from multiple angles.
Once upon a time, players were relatively insulated from heckling. Now British soccer fans are about to enjoy designs that will enhance their powers of harassment. Liverpool F.C.’s new stadium will reproduce the old field’s infamous “Kop” fan section and add a single-piece steel roof that comes up and curves out over the sacred 76 rows (along with 20 added rows). The design ensures that taunts and team fight songs will blast down to the field and deafen opposing players.
The fans of tomorrow could be monitoring real-time stats, keeping a virtual scorecard, and ordering a hot-dog via a wireless screen built into each seat at Cisco Field, slated to be the suburban new home of the Oakland A’s. The design calls for interactive displays that show the fastest driving routes out of the park, traffic conditions and, most important, the shortest bathroom lines. Additionally, fans will get face time with popular players through virtual “autograph session” teleconferences.
“Legacy” venues are designed to transform into smaller, more usable stadiums once a major event ends. Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, will shrink its capacity by 10,000 seats after hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The flagship stadium for the London 2012 Olympics will initially seat 80,000 and then become a more community-friendly 25,000-seat stadium. The “ephemeral” architecture requires that the upper decks be disassembled and lower deck seating rearranged. Because large venues are costly to maintain, this trend could allow poorer countries to host major sporting events without busting the bank.
Stadium designers are consciously incorporating green design into their latest creations. Construction on the new, 50,000-seat, reportedly $250-million Shakhtar Stadium in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk left the surrounding wooded park intact. The stadium walls are also lower on one end to more efficiently light the field. By 2012, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles will feature a “green necklace” that adds a proposed 2,000 more trees as well as drought-resistant plants to Chavez Ravine. To top it off, the stadium will become the first California ballpark to have waterless urinals, which will save millions of gallons of water per year.
Dank, cavernous domes can ruin fans’ enjoyment of the game, so Tampa baseball will take a huge step toward becoming a modern franchise in 2012 when it leaves the hideous Tropicana Field (a.k.a. “the Pit”) for a 34,000-seat stadium overlooking Tampa Bay. Nautical themes abound in the 320-foot mast-and-arch design, which will use a system of cables to unfold the Tenara fabric roof like a sail. The roof will let in plenty of light, so the stadium is shaped to funnel sea breezes across the fans to keep them cool. Initial plans also called for piping chilled water through the concrete so the seats wouldn’t give off stored heat during night games.