Colleen McKenna, leader of our Sports + Recreation practice, is featured extensively in School Planning & Management’s new piece titled, “Sports Facilities: Focusing on Elevating the Fan Experience.” The piece looks at how collegiate athletic facilities are becoming more reflective of professional venues, embracing technology and design to reshape fan experiences. Our work with Virginia Tech and the City of Maryland Heights are featured as leading examples.
The full article is available online. Here’s a key excerpt:
On infusing social spaces in collegiate stadiums
“However, drawing more attendance is key and designers are adding social spaces ;to allow the venue to promote greater interaction between guests and their families and friends.’ According to McKenna, English Field at Union Park – Virginia Tech’s new baseball stadium incorporates grass terraces where “fans can relax, socialize, play catch, eat a picnic lunch – they really help to expand the ballpark experience and welcome new types of fans who might not be interested in taking a seat and watching every pitch and swing.”
On integrating athletics, wellness and recreation
Sports facility designs in community centers are also trying to draw more people into a multi-use facility that integrates athletics, wellness and recreation. An example is the city of Maryland Heights that recently opened a new community center outside St. Louis for community recreation or services. According to McKenna, in its first eight months of operation, the center welcomed 84,000 visits, had attendance of over 38,000 for its rental facilities and has seen 5,000 seniors attend programs.
Many institutions are modeling bold new ideas to integrate wellness, disease prevention, and recreation in singular spaces. They see data that indicates more than 60 percent of students don’t think they’re in “very good shape” and that numerous others are struggling with loneliness, depression, or other serious challenges and recognize a need to offer more holistic solutions.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for integration, but colleges and universities are finding new ways to blend academic, counseling, nutrition, recreation, athletics, meditation, prayer space, and more in to a single building,” said McKenna.