Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Framework of characteristics that support successful community development in association with the development of professional sports facilities

Sports stadiums and arenas and public funding is a tough issue.  Generally, based on the economic research, advocates always argue against.  But the reality is that economic interests and elected officials are generally all in.  

So a campaign based on "saying no" is likely to have little impact.

Since the facility is going to get built, with public money, now I argue that we ought to focus on extracting the best possible contract providing the greatest possible community and economic return to the locality, rather than just letting the sports team reap the majority of the benefits.

-- "Baseball World Series in DC as an opportunity for urban planning reflections: #1 | revisiting blog entries from 2005/2006,"
-- "Baseball World Series in DC #2: Eleven urban planning lessons from the Washington Nationals stadium"

Over the years, I've been working on creating an item framework, since my first crack at it in 2014.  The most recent version is from 2019 ("Stadiums and arenas redux: Mayor Bowser still wants the area NFL team to relocate to DC").

But today I am revisiting it, sparked by a community planning effort in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake planning process is centered around the Ballpark neighborhood-where a classically designed stadium with great views is home to the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team.

But the neighborhood around the park hasn't improved much in the 27 years that the stadium first opened in 1994, and it has light rail transit access to boot.

I think the key problem with the dearth of revitalization benefits is the lack of an overall planning and implementation initiative when the stadium was first constructed, although there are other issues--the railroad tracks support industrial development, there aren't a lot of build out opportunities on the east side of the tracks, closer to the stadium, the area is (not far but still) distant from Downtown, where a stadium may have made more sense from a leveraging revitalization opportunities standpoint, etc.

When the Washington Nationals put a notice on the scoreboard about last trains from the nearest transit station, fans boo the transit agency, when it is the team that has refused to guarantee service for games that go beyond the normal closing time for the system.

Creating a revitalization program for a stadium, arena, or exposition facility that is outside of a downtown or major activity center is tough.  So Salt Lake has a tough row to hoe.

So I decided to take another look at the framework, and I realized that a specific section on neighborhood benefits, if relevant to particular situations, needed to be separated out as an element.  

Note that some of these items are less relevant to smaller communities, and those lacking robust transit networks, and with a sprawl development paradigm.  

There is also a difference of opportunities between "big leagues," minor league teams, and college teams ("Economic impact of college football means season cancellation will crush college town economies reliant on sports visitation," 2020, "American City Business Journals calculates the capacity of North American metropolitan areas to support new/additional professional sports teams," 2015).

And practice facilities, which despite all that is touted by teams, seem to have very little economic impact ("Sport team practice facilities and public subsidy (a practice facility for the Washington Wizards)," 2015).  Arguably, baseball training camps are problematic too, in terms of financial subsidies from local governments.

Community Development oriented planning framework for sports stadiums and arenas

in front of Fenway Park, Boston
Urban Design 

  • centrality of location: Downtown/central business district/waterfront versus outlying locations within a city or suburbs.  Negative examples include the Salt Lake Bees stadium outside of Downtown, with limited redevelopment opportunities; how the Atlanta Braves chose a suburban location for their new stadium, counter to the trend of siting in center cities; the debate in Oakland about a waterfront location versus a new stadium in their current location ("A's plan to build a new waterfront stadium at Oakland's Jack London Square takes big step forward," San Francisco Chronicle), and the location of the Real Salt Lake soccer team in the suburbs instead of the center city.  Positive examples include the waterfront stadium for the San Francisco Giants, the Downtown stadium for the Baltimore Orioles, and the relocation of the Washington Wizards basketball team and Capitals Hockey teams from the suburbs to the City of Washington;
  • size of the facility and its ability to be integrated into the urban fabric (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer), bigger stadiums--football stadiums specifically--are harder to integrate in the urban fabric.
  • isolation or connection: how well is the facility integrated into the urban fabric beyond the stadium site and does it leverage, build upon, and extend the location and the community around it.  The classic example is Wrigley Field in Chicago versus White Sox Stadium ("Expert offers his dream Sox stadium," Chicago Tribune).  Wrigley Field is embedded in its neighborhood, while White Sox Stadium is disconnected from its.  But also in how Oracle Park in San Francisco leverages its waterfront location.
Oracle Park.  Photo: Ron Niebrugge.
Stadium/Arena Design
Ancillary Development
  • a publicly produced and robust master plan which isn't a "bag job" produced by sports team interests, with the aim of sparking additional development, leveraging the stadium/arena as a neighborhood and community anchor;
  • ownership split concerning ancillary development around the facility: is it all controlled by the team?  Again, the White Sox Stadium is a good example of failures in this dimension.

The Georgetown Hoyas play their games at Capital One Arena, which is also home to the Washington Wizards basketball and Washington Capitals hockey teams, maximizing facility utilization.

  • frequency of events held by the primary tenant--baseball has 82 home games/year, football about 10 including pre-season, basketball and hockey have 41, soccer about 17--so football stadiums are very rarely used (according to the Chicago Sun-Times article "Emanuel mulling 5,000-seat expansion to Soldier Field," the facility holds about 22 events including annually, 12 non-football events);
  • how many teams use the facility, maximizing use and utility of the building--for example, Capital One Arena in DC is used by professional men's basketball, hockey, and one college basketball team for more than 100 sports events each year (until recently it also hosted professional women's basketball and Arena football).  Pittsburgh's Heinz Stadium is home not only to the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, but also the University of Pittsburgh's football team, which is one of seven college football teams to share the stadium of a professional team ("Stadiums Shared by NFL and NCAA Teams").
  • are events scheduled in a manner that facilitates attendee patronage of off-site businesses--a business isn't an anchor if it aims to not share its customers; the earlier events are scheduled, the harder it is to patronize retailers and restaurants located off-site, at night during the week, there is limited post-game spending as well, on the weekends it's a different story with more opportunity to patronize off-site establishments--teams manipulate scheduling to reduce spending outside of their on-site and 100% controlled facilities;
  • use of the facility for non-game events drawing additional patrons--such as concerts and other types of programming; 
  • regular economic impact studies of spending by event patrons should be required (one example is a study that was conducted for Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2013, as discussed in this blog entry from the Atlantic Yards Report, also see "Barclays Center and its economic impact on Brooklyn," Nathan Weiser blog, "The Barclays Effect," Politico), including more fine grained data on the effect on local business and local businesses (for example, the original study on Barclays found differences in patronage before and after events, and during the week versus weekends).
Photo by Mike Kepika of the San Francisco Chronicle. People leaving the streetcars to see a Giants game at PacBell Park (now Oracle Park).

Broader retail is tough.  Note that except for team-related merchandise, increasingly patrons are less interested in retail consumption outside of food and beverage and other entertainment.  This makes it difficult to support straight up retail as part of professional sports team venue-focused revitalization initiatives.  

In It's Hardly Sportin' the authors describe how the Wrigleyville commercial district was "reproduced" towards food and drink and entertainment in response to the Cubs shifting to night games.

  • how people travel to events: automobiles vs. transit--if automobiles are the primary way people get to events, then large amounts of parking usually in surface lots needs to be provided, making it difficult to foster ancillary development because of lack of land and poor quality of the visual environment, whereas if transit is the primary mode, then more land around a facility can be developed in ways that leverage the proximity of the arena. 
  • locating stadiums and arenas in high-capacity transit locations: e.g., Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, and Capital One Arena are served by multiple transit lines, whereas most stadiums and arenas are sited in locations that have single line transit service.
  • transit capacity: subway transit has much greater capacity than light rail, and depending on the schedule, railroad passenger service.  Buses have less capacity too, but depending on the nature of the event, many can be deployed.  Promising high quality service when transit modes lack the throughput and capacity (e.g., World Cup soccer in Dallas, Super Bowl at Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey) creates serious problems.
  • transportation demand management requirements as part of the contract/certificate of occupancy/use permit: some teams have TDM plan requirements, in particular the Chicago Cubs, most don't. Some teams provide a great deal of information or support for sustainable mobility, most don't.  Some teams pay for transit services.  At least some of the time (the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals) sports teams may pay toward service extended beyond normal hours when games go late, most don't (Washington Nationals).  More sports facilities in cities are adding bike valets and/or secure bike parking facilities.
Slide from a study on the Barclays Center arena, Brooklyn, 2013
  • Free transit with ticket:  Events at the Talking Stick Arena (Phoenix), Chase Center (San Francisco), Climate Pledge Arena (Seattle), and sports events at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City include certain types of free transit access for ticket holders. University of Utah and the Climate Pledge Arena have the most extensive agreements.  Through funding from teams and landowners, the transit station serving Pittsburgh baseball and football stadiums is included in the light rail transit system's "free fare zone," called the North Shore Connector. While it wasn't put into practice, in 2014 in negotiations for a new arena, the transit authority in Sacramento proposed providing Sacramento Kings ticket holders with "free transit" in return for certain subsidies. 
  • transportation demand management plans should set targets for each mode, with a focus on trips by sustainable mobility.  This was an element of the contract with the Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets).
  • transportation demand management plans should require annual surveying on how people get to events to measure the success of shifting trips to sustainable modes: do fans arrive on foot; by bike; car--gas or electric; car pool; taxi/ride hailing; bus; light rail; etc. (This is an element of the contract with the Climate Pledge Arena/Seattle Kraken hockey team.)
Commuting statistics collected by a local business in Portland, Oregon
  • secure bike parking facilities should be required for in-city sports facilities.
  • special marketing initiatives. Some passenger rail lines provide special game day service for sports events and a wide range of marketing programs (Metrolink, Caltrain, New York MTA).  
  • parking taxes to support community improvements: years ago a neighborhood association in the Hill District of Pittsburgh suggested creating a parking tax that would go towards funding local community projects as a mitigation program ("A dollar a car for the Hill," Hill District Consensus Group).   A parking tax should be assessed in any case.  (Similarly, the BART system has an add on fee for airport trips.)

New York City's arenas and to some extent some baseball stadiums, the Capital One Arena in DC, Wrigley Field in Chicago, and Oracle Park in San Francisco are particularly noteworthy examples of sports facilities well connected by transit, where a majority of attendees get to and from the facility on transit.

As mentioned, some sports teams (and other groups) have paid towards transit stations serving their facilities.  Newer agreements include the New England Patriots ("Commuter rail service to Foxboro to start in October," Quincy Patriot-Ledger, and the New York Islanders ("Islanders arena project at Belmont Park now includes new LIRR station," Newsday).

City-wide Benefits 

  • community benefits agreements that provide additional benefits to the city overall
  • fair lease terms rather than agreements where the team pays little or no rent.  For example, the City of Anaheim has made little net revenue--$50,000/year!--from the Anaheim Angels baseball team ("Stadium maintenance, debt eat into Anaheim's revenue from hosting Angels baseball," Orange County Register) which is why admissions and other taxes can be especially important.
  • profit percentage paid to the local/state governments upon the sale of the team, in recognition of the importance of government funding for the facility and/or support infrastructure (like what was intended for the Miami Marlins stadium) as well as the reality that the facility is the platform for the success of the entire enterprise
  • entrepreneurship and social enterprise opportunities.  Are there programs to support small business operation of concessions and contracting?  Can workforce development and social enterprises be a part of this mix? For example, the West Nest concessions stand in Mercedes-Benz Stadium is operated as a social enterprise by the Westside Works community organization ("At Mercedes-Benz Stadium, West Nest provides a training ground for Westside Works students and grads," Atlanta Magazine).
  • public facilities access and use program, such as how the basketball arena in Bilbao includes a recreation center open to the public, including access to the main court when not in use; while not on-site, the Redskins football team did pay towards a community and recreation center in the area of the stadium
  • admissions taxes on tickets: Prince George's County would make almost zero off the Washington Redskins if it weren't for an admissions tax on each ticket; but many teams argue against imposing such taxes or that they should be the beneficiaries, e.g., the Washington Wizards used admissions tax receipts to pay for interior improvements, "Verizon Center Ticket Tax to Rise to 10%," Washington Post, 2007.
  • as discussed in the previous section, paying towards transit and transportation facilities is another city-wide benefit.
  • conditional use permits as opposed to permanent certificates of occupancy.  Providing stadium/arena use permits for a specific period of time, rather than "forever" gives the locality more leverage.  New York City's treatment of Madison Square Garden is somewhat unique in that the facility is permitted through a special use permit  that isn't granted in perpetuity but has to be regularly updated, renegotiated and approved every ten years ("Remember, City Council, Forever Is a Really Long Time," New York Times). 
  • Other tax revenues.  For example, with regard to taxes, as a proto-state, DC keeps the sales, income, and property tax revenue streams associated with real estate development and appreciation and the spending and obligations of residents.  On the other hand, unlike other "states," DC is barred from taxing "day of game" income of professional athletes, a revenue stream enjoyed everywhere else. 
West Nest concession stand at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

Neighborhood benefits
  • development and maintenance of a community plan, focused on neighborhood revitalization in association with the creation of the sports facility.  One example is the plan created for the Aycock neighborhood of Greensboro, North Carolina.  Other examples include plans associated with the development of minor league baseball stadiums in Memphis and Louisville, Kentucky, although these were more focused on downtown revitalization.
  • neighborhood focused community benefits agreements.  The Atlanta Falcons football stadium was developed with such an agreement ("Building a Stadium, Rebuilding a Neighborhood," New York Times, Falcons community impact website) which included job training, employment targets, the creation of social enterprises, etc., although there is criticism of the program.
  • creation of an implementation organization to guide neighborhood improvements.
  • creation of "community safety partnerships" if necessary ("Creating 'community safety partnership neighborhood management programs as a management and mitigation strategy for public nuisances: Part 3 ")
  • parking taxes to support community improvements (discussed above): years ago a neighborhood association in the Hill District of Pittsburgh suggested creating a parking tax that would go towards funding local community projects as a mitigation program ("A dollar a car for the Hill," Hill District Consensus Group)
  • admissions taxes: (discussed above).  A portion of admissions taxes could be designated for neighborhood improvement programs if stadiums/arenas are located outside of Downtown.
  • public facilities access and use program (repeated from above).  One example is how the basketball arena in Bilbao includes a recreation center open to the public, including access to the main court when not in use; while not on-site, the Redskins football team did pay towards a community and recreation center in the area of the stadium.
Note that there are plenty of examples of the construction of stadiums and arenas at the loss of viable neighborhoods, such as Pittsburgh's Hill District and the creation of the arena for the Penguins hockey team in the late 1950s.  

The arena was demolished a few years ago, and a "restorative revitalization" initiative is underway ("Penguins ‘restorative development’ project aims to repair Pittsburgh’s famed Hill District," The Undefeated, "Not over in the Hill: Neighborhood leaders say the Penguins are coming up short," PublicSource).

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At 9:05 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

In a predecessor piece, I mentioned how more than half the attendees at events at Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center come and go by transit.

By contrast in 2019, for the Seattle Mariners baseball team it was 11%, including ferry (at least they collect the data).

2. Apparently the forthcoming Seattle Kraken NHL team will pay the Seattle Monorail for ticket holders using it, and will provide some level of subsidy for bus and light rail (but not ferry transit). The details on the latter haven't been disclosed, but will include both season and single ticket holders.

The team is paying for improvements to the Monorail system to increase throughput, including paying for integrating the Orca regional transit media card into the fare gates.

According to the article, the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns provide similar benefits.

3. WRT Phoenix, all events at "Talking Stick Resort Arena," basketball, concerts, etc., the ticket provides free _light rail_ access. Not bus access. And events that don't use Ticketmaster aren't eligible for free service.

It's good for 3 hours before the event and afterwards.

4. SF has two primary transit organizations, MUNI which is exclusive to the city, and BART, which is regional, with stations in SF. (Travel between BART stations in the city are included in the monthly premium MUNI pass, but not the basic pass.)

The program with the Golden State Warriors and transit is only for the MUNI.

It covers bus, and light rail/streetcar but not cable cars. AND, it's an all day ticket.

5. In confirming something, I found out that the Pittsburgh Steelers are no longer sponsors of the free fare zone extension to the North Side, but the Stadium Authority and Casino still participate, along with a parking lot company.

That changed in 2015.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Madison Square Garden doesn't pay any rent!!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Haven't read this, just came across it.


International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 35:3 (2008)

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Metro will stay open for late sports games
By Justin George

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The proposed European Super League for soccer led to fan revolts and government complaints, and it broke apart.

Last weekend, fans protested at the Manchester United stadium, leading to the game being postponed.

Commentators argue that the reason this happened is fans have been fed up for years with the ownership of the team, the Glazer family of the US, who own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and how their financial management of the team, leveraged buyout and weighing down the organization with debt has made the team uncompetitive.

In Anti-Ownership Protests, United Fans Rediscover Their Own Power

Interestingly, like the point about "loser's consent" made wrt Wales government devolution and the need to build consensus for big changes with the people who disagree, the bond between fans and teams can fray when the teams are run poorly. In the US, fans have zero leverage. But in some countries (Spain, Germany, South America), soccer teams are controlled by fan groups.

The Guardian article contrasts the ownership of Manchester City vs. the Glasers and Manchester United. MC is owned by Abu Dhabi, and they've invested in the team and community. So even though they were part of the ESL effort, their fans complained but not super vociferously, because the owners are seen in much different terms compared to the Glasers.

Abu Dhabi money transforms east end of Manchester

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

In an open letter to Joel Glazer, Manchester United Supporters Trust said on Monday: “What happened [on Sunday] was the culmination of 16 years in which your family’s ownership of the club has driven us into debt and decline, and we have felt ever more sidelined and ignored. After 16 years not one member of the Glazer family has ever had so much as a conversation with us, the club’s Supporters Trust.

“After the events of yesterday we trust your attention is now fully focused on the question of what happens next at Manchester United.”

The trust presented a four-point plan including the appointment of independent directors and a fan share scheme that could lead to the Glazers being bought out.

MUST's four-point plan sent to Glazer family
1. Willingly and openly engage and promote the government initiated fan-led review of football and use this as an opportunity to rebalance the current ownership structure in the favour of supporters
2. Immediately appoint independent directors to the board whose sole purpose is to protect the interest of the club as a football club, not its shareholders
3. Work with the Manchester United Supporters Trust and supporters more broadly to put in place a share scheme that is accessible to all and that has shares with the same voting rights as those held by the Glazer family. Should the appetite be there amongst fans then you should welcome, and offer no opposition to, the Glazer Family shareholding being reduced to a minority or indeed being bought out altogether.
4. Commit to full consultation with season ticket holders on any significant changes to the future of our club, including the competitions we play in

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Entertainment center to be built in parking lots of Honda Center (Anaheim Ducks hockey), and adjacent to Angels Stadium

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Revenue sharing agreement between the Honda Center (Anaheim Ducks) and the City of Anaheim.

Plus the Honda Center is taking over management of the train station (ARTIC), releasing the city from the financial responsibility ($2.5MM) of operating it.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

agreement with the Angels

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Manchester United loses a big sponsorship deal because of fan unrest

The Guardian: Manchester United lose £200m training kit deal over fans’ anti-Glazers campaign.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

WTOP: Metro wants to temporarily drop fees for special events.

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Impact of new minor league baseball stadiums on game attendance
January 2008Sport Marketing Quarterly 17(3):146-153

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Economic impact study of two Manchester City "City in the Community" programs

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Capital One Arena -- Washington Wizards basketball, Washington Capitals hockey -- adds sports betting parlor inside the building.

Leonsis talked many years ago about the team as a platform. My response is that the building is the stage, and therefore public financing of these facilities deserves a greater financial return.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

USA Today had an article about the difficulty smaller market teams have competing in the NBA. (This is an issue with baseball too.) Although the article is sort of behind a paywall, you can access it through

"NBA's small-market franchises finding road to success can be an obstacle course"

Here is a similar piece from a few years ago.

I wrote about this awhile back in the context of Oklahoma City. The former mayor, Mick Cornett, made the point that having a NBA team made the city known worldwide, because people into basketball knew all the US teams, regardless of the size of the market.

(I have a similar story. I don't follow year by year sports that much, more the business and politics of sports in general. But I was in Liverpool, asking for directions, near Everton's stadium, and somehow it came up I was from DC, and a person commented on how DC United recently added Wayne Rooney, who had been a star with the Everton team. I knew about it because of reading the Washington Post...)

One "solution" for small market teams would be to give them more salary cap room, rather than them getting financially penalized for paying over the cap. Great players prefer to be in the big cities. That could help level things a little.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

High quality food at Angels Stadium

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Systematic community involvement activities particularly with youth needs to be another element in the city-wide benefits section.

Above in the comments, Manchester City soccer's initiatives are mentioned. Major League Baseball has an initiative. This article about Salt Lake City and the Jazz mentions the Junior Jazz program.

You really should be in Salt Lake City. It’s cool. Really.
By Chuck Culpepper

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

100% minority (90% Black) baseball team at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Prince George's County, Maryland

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

AP story on the impact of the loss of minor league baseball teams in Port Charlotte, Florida, Lancaster, California, and Jackson, Tennessee, as part of the takeover of minor league baseball by the Major Leagues, and the elimination of some leagues and teams.

The Lancaster quotes the city manager saying the cost of maintaining the stadium wasn't really covered by increased economic activity from the team, that they have greater impact from youth league tournament baseball, at the adjacent 17 field youth baseball complex.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Gaps in TDM planning in Chicago?

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Because the Milwaukee Bucks, a small market team, are in the NBA Finals, there are articles on the team and its situation.

Like this one in the Post.

Schlitz over glitz: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s loyalty to Milwaukee lands Bucks in NBA Finals

I found this paragraph very interesting:

"The surest paths to salvation from such depths: a large financial infusion or a superstar talent, and the Bucks enjoyed both. Lasry and Edens, two New York hedge fund managers, purchased the Bucks for $550 million in 2014 and set about polishing up their distressed asset. With help from a $250 million public financing package, the new regime built a glittering downtown practice facility in 2017, opened the 17,000-seat Fiserv Forum in 2018 and, perhaps most ambitiously, began work on Deer District, a 30-acre downtown redevelopment project that includes restaurants, an apartment building and a forthcoming hotel."

Practice facility
I don't think their practice facility is any different than anyone else's in that it is pretty much just for the team, with few if any spillover benefits.

Ancillary development
That's the big thing these days. Ideally, to me, giving sports teams these kinds of development rights and deals ought to be a way to reduce the public outlay.

The Golden State Warriors argue that because the cost of competing in the NBA is so high, they need the revenue from ancillary development independent of other inducements.

I don't know anything about the Deer District at this point.

facility design
Looking this up, I came across a couple good articles from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the opening of the arena.

"Fiserv Forum's architecture wonderful inside, flawed outside"

It says it's a very intimate design (the same is said for the new NY Islanders hockey arena).

From the article:

Much was invested in the interior materials, finishes and lighting, too, one of the areas where local firm Eppstein Uhen Architects was most involved. All of the mechanicals and light fixtures visually sink into the charcoal gray ceilings, which, again, give the spaces a clean and intimate feel. The curving interior walls create a what’s-around-that-edge sense of anticipation inside the arena, though I never once felt lost.

It is also commendable that the most plush spaces are generally accessible to anyone with a ticket, including the Panorama Club at the arena’s top with its high-altitude balcony. It’s a bit “Less Than Zero” up there. There’s an `80s party vibe, with circles of neon light and curving, white pleather sofas. It mostly works, though, thanks to the views over the arena and out to the cityscape.

"There is nothing like this in the NBA,” says Greg Uhen, managing partner at Eppstein Uhen. “The cheapest tickets here have access to the premium spaces like no one else in the NBA. I would argue that the entire upper concourse is the best upper concourse in the NBA. No one even comes close.”

- continued -

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The article goes on:

Quality of the interior design for other events

"It warrants noting here that a massive, multi-use arena that may host basketball one night, a concert the next and an ice skating show after that is one of the most complex building types. Balancing great design with Swiss Army Knife-like needs is remarkably challenging. Just look at any aging arena to see how terrible the results have been until fairly recently."
This is an important point. I guess the framework takes this on more indirectly. It needs to be a separate point. It's not just the programming of other events, but the quality of those experiences too.


exterior design
From the article:

When it comes to the exterior, reasonable people will disagree about the arena’s architectural style. The design generated a wave of commentary when renderings were unveiled in 2015. Back then, critics variously likened the would-be arena to a giant taco, a beer barrel and the sweeping hairstyle of a presidential candidate.

I have as one of the elements, the way the building fits into the area around it. But the quality of the exterior design should be a separate element too. One is about the architectural design. The other is about the urban design.

urban design
Just to reiterate, she writes:

There are also questions to come. How will the entertainment block, public spaces and pedestrian experiences function – especially when there aren’t events and in winter? Will the arena bring the hoped-for revitalization in a part of downtown that, because of its outsize blocks and big buildings, resists revitalization?

roof design

The article specifically criticizes the roof design.

"The signature flaw in the arena is a dramatic, sweeping roofline that appears unfinished, particularly near its rounded edge where it looks like the builders ran out of the auburn-colored zinc cladding."

Photo of the Fiserv Forum

Photo of Uline Arena

Interestingly, it kind of looks like DC's old Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum, which opened in 1941.

DK if this needs to be another element. The way she writes about it, it's another element of urban design, not so much of the ground level scale, but the skyline.

From the article:

You won’t notice the roofline issue while visiting the arena on foot but rather from a distance, which is how big buildings of this sort are meant to be read and how they have impact.

The problem is especially pronounced from points north, if you’re biking down North King Drive, driving down Water Street or coming into downtown from I-43.

What you’ll see is a massive sweep of richly colored zinc interrupted by soft white material that really shouldn’t be visible. Also showing are mechanicals related to safety, exhaust and keeping ice from accumulating during the Wisconsin winters, according to the architects.

You can button up every detail inside, but a larger share of Milwaukeeans will live with that unkempt exterior for a generation.

The long arcing line of the roof reads like a missed jumper at the buzzer. In major league architecture, as in major league sports, coming close does not secure the win.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

This article has a link to a drone footage video of the exterior, although it doesn't look at the site from a distance, as referenced in the architecture review article of the arena.

Fiserv Forum and concerts

The article links to a piece by the music critic of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, reviewing the first concert held there. He found the sound to be quite good.

That's another element that should be in the list.

"The Killers, Violent Femmes rock first Fiserv Forum show, cover 'Laverne & Shirley' song"

Intimate spaces

From the article:

The arena concourses were just as inviting. Aside from a somewhat claustrophobic hallway on the first floor where traffic has to funnel around tables and food and seating lines, the concourses offered plenty of breathing room and ideal gathering places, be it the jumbo video screen in the lobby that quickly became a go-to selfie spot, or the Panorama Club at the top of the arena — a section given so little care at many large sporting facilities — that offered handsome views down into the seating bowl and of the Milwaukee skyline on an outdoor deck.

Appealing social spots like these, all over Fiserv Forum, felt just as important to the spirit of the building and the experience Tuesday, but a seemingly simple yet effective curtaining system ensured the light and chatter from the halls didn't spoil the show.

Concert experience
View, sight lines, sound

From the article:

As for the concert experience itself, I saw the Killers' two-hour set from eight different vantage points, and was impressed by the clear sight lines and sharp acoustics each step of the way.

Intimacy is one of the first things that come to mind with Fiserv Forum, and the last thing you would expect from an arena.

About 65 percent of the seats are in the lower bowl, and Fiserv Forum isn't as tall as the Bucks' previous home, the soon-to-be-demolished BMO Harris Bradley Center. Standing in the lower bowl beside the stage, it really felt like the crowd was hovering right on top of the band.

And while the sound was certainly duller in the upper bowl, the distance to the stage felt remarkably closer than the Bradley Center's nosebleed seats, aided in part by a sharp slope — and the seats were distinctly more spacious and comfortable even up top.

Internet connections/Wifi
I guess I wouldn't have thought about this except when it doesn't work. But having 15,000+ people at once, and more in a baseball, football, or soccer stadium, means you really need robust service to support your patrons.

From the article:

There is one thing Fiserv Forum will really need to fix for future events: the spotty WiFi and cell connection. Posting to Instagram and Twitter was pretty easy out in the concourse, but practically impossible inside the seating bowl itself, and I talked to colleagues who experienced similar troubles.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Forgot to mention that like Georgetown at Capital One Arena, Marquette basketball plays its games at Fiserv Forum.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Washington Redskins fans stranded after game ends after subway service ended. Team did not pay for late service. As part of contracts with teams for stadiums and arenas, localities should require teams to participate in such TDM programs wrt late service.

The Washington Post: Metro cites policy change, apologizes to fans stranded after Washington Football Team game.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

By Ben Golliver

At 12:37 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

LA Clippers building a cathedral of basketball. Won't have to satisfice the facility to accommodate hockey.

"LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer 'building our own presence, identity' with new arena"

"The NBA’s richest owner enters the arena arms race"

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

It turns out that the lawsuit by Miami-Dade County against former owner of the Miami Marlins baseball team didn't amount to much.

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I didn't realize that St. Louis is suing the NFL over the exit of the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles. They argue they were screwed, left having to pay off the stadium. Apparently, because the NFL doesn't want this to go to trial, there are rumors of the offer of a huge settlement.

"Business of Football: The NFL Is Losing Its Lawsuit Against St. Louis, But Has Been in Situations Like This Before"

This column by a St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist makes a point similar to mine, that you should choose your partners carefully in such deals, and that the NFL isn't a very honorable counterparty.

"In latest Rams relocation hearing, a reminder why NFL expansion speculation doesn't have to be real to be a really bad idea"

"St. Louis Batters the Rams: What the lawsuit means for the city"

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

This article is on a study by AECOM of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bill's, at either their current suburban location or Downtown. The city site would take longer and cost significantly more. More than $2 billion total. Neither site has great potential for ancillary development although they suggest increased property values around a downtown site of $2 million per year. A return of 1/1000.

"Study recommends new Bills stadium, silent on Orchard Park vs. Buffalo location | Local News |"

At 10:58 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

New York Times article on the new Climate Pledge Arena for the Seattle Kraken hockey team, focusing on the sustainability goals and objectives of the project.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers, with oversight from the Stadium Authority, contracted with a real estate firm to develop undeveloped parcels.

One of the projects is a parking garage.

The main project is an apartment and retail complex, with a public plaza focused on the Pirates baseball team, across the street from the stadium.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, is going to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.

This article opines about FSG's property development around Fenway Park, and whether or not it could happen in association with the Penguins, although with the Hill District site where the arena previously was located.

" currently is in the midst of building MGM Music Hall at Fenway, a 91,500-square-foot performing arts venue, adjacent to the baseball park, which is owned by FSG."

The current owners just broke ground on a 26 story office building on the Hill District site.

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

NYT article on the new UBS Arena for the NY Islanders hockey team.

1. Oak View Group, developer of the arena for the Seattle Kraken team, also owns this arena.

2. They mentioned the UBS Arena has more bathroom space/attendee than any other arena.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Businessweek article about FanDuel fantasy football app, and its success in converting players to gamblers, by adding sports betting to its platform.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

St. Louis settles with the NFL for $790 million.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL will pay St. Louis $790 million as part of a settlement for moving the team to Los Angeles

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks basketball teams are valued at more than $5 billion ("Are the Knicks and Lakers Really Worth $5 Billion?," New York Times, "FROM KNICKS TO PELICANS: 2021 NBA FRANCHISE VALUATIONS RANKING LIST," Sportico).

The Sportico website has a dedicated tab for articles on team valuations.


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