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Volume 20 No. 42
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What is the biggest challenge facing the sports industry overall?

Ken Johnson, Hunt Construction Group: “Getting young millennials to come to a game and become season-ticket holders.”

Dale Koger, Legends Project Development: “In-venue affordability. The ever-increasing escalation of salary caps and franchise operating expenses continues to pressure franchise owners and venue development teams to maximize venue revenues. Optimal solutions require extensive data, thorough analytics and collaborative creativity of all stakeholders and service providers.”

Mark Williams, HKS: “Everyone in their heart loves live performances and stating, ‘I was there when … .’ Our needs and desires for experiences are fractured and the integration of technology is deeper, broader and more convenient each day. How our venues respond to this is our biggest challenge.”

Jack Hill, San Francisco 49ers: “The competition between the in-stadium experience and the comfort and

The Power Players say the sports industry must provide fans with entertainment and experiences they can't get at home, and must do more to turn millennials into regular attendees.
Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images
convenience of the fan’s living room. With the price of the stadium experience ever increasing, our industry needs to design, construct and operate sports facilities in which the sports fan feels safe and comfortable while being entertained in a manner which cannot be replicated at home.”

Tom Paci, Turner Construction: “Finding more uses for sports facilities to justify the first costs and to gain more support for public funding.”

Paul Griesemer, HNTB: “How will the industry diversify the demographic from which they can market to draw more people to the venues and compete with home or other entertainment options. To answer this call, we are highlighting and incorporating more opportunities to expand ticket markets, diversify premium offerings, create more diverse social environments and create spin-off developments that are active throughout the year.”

Derek Cunz, Mortenson Construction: “Designing, building and operating efficient venues with reduced initial capital and long-term operating costs. Facilities are growing in size and flexibility, but they’re not really advancing in terms of energy and operational efficiency. In my experience, integrated teams that focus heavily on planning at the earliest stages of a project, in addition to advanced use of technology, have the ability to dramatically reduce cost, increase efficiency and improve outcomes.”

Chase Martin, The Cordish Cos.: “Sustained fan engagement. Whether at the live game or at home, teams need to keep their fans involved and engaged. This means extending their content through various sources of media and providing fans more ways to interact with their brand. More specifically a year-round clubhouse for their fans. Being owners and operators puts us in a unique position to accomplish this. Live districts have allowed teams to create an extension of their brand, including their media, their brand partnerships, and most importantly create venues that facilitate a culture among their current and future fans that extends beyond game days.”

Paula Portz, PC Sports: “A challenge is how to align the changing needs and interests of the millennial population with the features offered to create the facility of the future, so that arenas and stadiums continue to be a place that younger fans want to go to and experience.”

Don Barnum, DLR Group: “As public financing support wanes, the private sector is looking for facilities with a greater return on investment. This requires the venue to host more and different types of events than the major stadiums can currently accommodate. We need design innovation to enable a baseball, football or soccer stadium to host 200 or more event days per year to enable the financing to work.”

Matt Rossetti, Rossetti: “Integrating sports venues into the urban fabric of their context to enable them to become community assets versus infrastructure projects. The idea of public funds for intangible value will shift to require tangible value as well.”

Bob Dunn, Hammes Co.: “Achieving economic solvency for the long term. The industry has experienced a generation of enormous growth in local revenues generated from sports venues. The future will be different and defined by rapidly increasing demands for capital investment. … Developing a business model that can support the capital demands of the operation will require new and more diverse sources of revenue.”

Bill Rhoda, Legends Global Planning: “The increasing costs to develop new arenas, stadiums or ballparks. With much of the new facility debt supported by contractually obligated income from premium seating, it is imperative that we develop flexible spaces that can address the needs of current premium-seat clients while balancing the ever-evolving needs of today’s millennial.”

Charlie Thornton, Icon Venue Group: “Waning public support of projects.”

Kacie Renc, JMI Sports: “Balancing the need for premium areas with the desire to fill the seating bowl is a big challenge. Premium areas are critical to generating revenue for these new facilities, but they often result in unfilled corporate seats that compromise the home-team advantage generated by a full and loud seating bowl.”

Murray Beynon, Brisbin Brook Beynon and SCI Architects: “Public safety. As an industry, it’s our greatest risk. We all have to be proactive leaders.”

Ensuring public safety remains high on the list of challenges.
Photo by: Getty Images
Sherri Privitera, Populous: “Increasing costs, finding new revenue streams to pay for projects and the misperception that all projects on college campuses are related to the arms race. Many projects are about providing the best possible platform to succeed in training and academics.”

John Wood, Mortenson Construction: “Aging technology. New facilities have invested tens of millions of dollars in technology components, from LED scoreboards, to ribbon boards, to expansive Wi-Fi network capabilities that allow fans to connect to the internet from every seat in the house. But this technology wasn’t available up until a few years ago. Facilities built as little as three years ago are seeing the need to make these essential upgrades to survive in this competitive marketplace. It’s a huge undertaking.”

Janet Marie Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers: “No longer is watching the game enough. Sports may be the draw, but the entertainment quotient is higher than ever, as are fan expectations for better quality foods.”

Ron Turner, Gensler: “Creating game-day experiences that make event expenses worth the investment. While this relates to cost, it is really about value. Fans from varying socio-economic backgrounds come to a game with expectations of what their experience can be. We need to exceed these expectations or risk losing attendees to home viewership, with lower expense and more conveniences.”

Brad Clark, Populous: “The changing customer demographic and experiential expectations of fans.”

Marc Farha, Icon Venue Group: “Complexity of the deals and projects coming together with so many stakeholders in the public and private space. It is very challenging to make sure that everyone gets what they want from the deal and to find common ground among the parties when they all have varying outcomes they want to achieve.”