What the Athletic Facilities Landscape Will Look Like in 2030

In the never-ending arm’s race among professional and collegiate athletic programs having top-notch facilities, everyone is looking for the latest technology and design layouts.

A recent article from highlighted what some of the top sports executives think about the state of the stadium and arena landscape and what to expect in the coming years.

Below is an excerpt from that article.

Smaller Venues, More Experiences

In the last 20 years, teams maximized arena revenue by adding larger corporate suites, club, and general admission seating. However, the COVID pandemic has changed that thinking.

Bill Mulvihill, the head of U.S. Bank sports and entertainment group, assisted in financing the Los Angeles Rams SoFi Stadium, which cost $5 billion. He echoed others who predict smaller venues on the horizon for the next generation of stadiums and arenas.

Mulvihill said more clubs are creating plans for in-arena spectators and TV viewers. “The idea is to have some unique fan experiences, not just drive up the total number of people in your building,” he said.

“I think the talk and the trend are smaller capacities overall when talking about arenas,” added Rob Tillis of investment firm Inner Circle Sports. “The bigger NFL stadiums will maintain large capacity.”

To enhance the value proposition of attending games, you may notice your favorite team is leveraging seating experiences like the NFL’s field-level suites. The Texas Rangers incorporated new seating options for Globe Life Field – their $1.2 billion ballpark. It includes suites on the field and two field-level lounges along the first and third baseline.

“These new buildings are focused more on providing a variety of premium seating projects to meet the demands of the market,” said Dan Barrett, president at CAA Icon, the stadium and arena planning division of agency CAA Sports.

“We’re competing against the 80-inch television in your living room,” said New York Islanders owner Jon Ledecky, who in November 2021 opened the $1 billion UBS Arena.

Sustainability, Grab-And-Go Technology

Another 2021 Oak View project is Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, where the NHL’s Kraken play. Executives praised the Kraken’s new home, noting it’s carbon-neutral and powered by solar and electricity.

“Almost every arena will try to be carbon-neutral going forward,” said Oak View CEO Tim Leiweke. “I think you’re going to see more of a commitment toward sanitation.”

The arena also uses grab-and-go tech from Amazon that lets customers pay for items automatically without having to check out with a cashier. (Amazon pioneered this technology in some of its convenience and grocery stores.)

Barrett from CAA Icon — which oversaw Climate Pledge and the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center in San Francisco — thinks facial recognition tech, automated concessions, and robotics will also expand the athletic facilities landscape.

“Climate Pledge and [Chase Center] have set the bar high from a technology standpoint, fan engagement, and fan experience,” he said. “That’s until the Clippers building comes online. I’m sure given Ballmer’s background, he’ll want [Intuit Dome] to be the model going forward.”

Intuit Dome will include a double-sided Halo video board with 44,000 square feet of LED lights and use walk-out tech for concessions.

“In five to 10 years when Ballmer is done, some of the older buildings are going to look really old, really quickly,” said Tillis. “They’re going to look like dinosaurs and won’t have the additional revenue-generating capabilities.”

To read the full story from about the landscape of the athletic facilities, click here