How HKS Helped Dallas Become a Global Sports & Entertainment Design Influencer

What do the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas, Dallas Wings, Frisco Roughriders and the Texas Super Kings have in common? All eight are professional sports teams based in North Texas and each plays their home games in venues designed by Dallas-based HKS.

Add Fort Worth’s Dickie’s Arena, Apogee Stadium at the University of North Texas along with Texas Christian University’s Amon G. Carter Stadium and Schollmaier Arena, and it is easy to see that HKS has created an unrivaled and indelible mark across the North Texas sports and entertainment landscape.

“Our foundation rests on listening to our clients, understanding their markets, and designing innovative experiences,” said HKS Partner Mark A. Williams, FAIA, who leads the firm’s Venues Sector. “Our Dallas home base is the foundation that enables HKS to elevate team legacies and transform fan experiences around the globe.”

Part of the Family

Representatives of Dallas area sports teams and facilities who have worked with HKS say that it is not just the design and architectural acumen that keeps them partnering with the firm today, but the way HKS and its people ingratiate themselves into the very fiber of the organizations they partner with.

“They know us. They know how we are wired,” said Dave Brown, the longtime Chief Operating Officer and general manager of Center Operating Company and the American Airlines Center, home of the Mavericks and the Stars. “It is not just the physical layout of the facilities, but it is our culture, it’s our priorities.”

“I’ve had a lot of exposure to others sports architecture firms, but HKS feels like part of the family,” Brown added. “We wouldn’t talk to anybody else.”

That kind of confidence and trust resonates with other HKS sports clients around Dallas, who say they have come to rely on HKS’ quality and competence to make their facilities among the best in the world. It is that kind of connection that the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones feels with HKS. “We gave HKS a vision, and through limitless thinking and innovation, they were able to take it to unprecedented heights.”

Jerry Jones’ daughter, Charlotte Jones, is executive vice president and chief brand officer for the Cowboys. She noted that the family had definitive ideas in mind for AT&T Stadium and said that HKS made those ideas happen. 

“HKS not only shared that desire, but whenever we meet with them, they show us how to turn our dreams into reality,” Charlotte Jones said. “Through our strong relationship with Kevin Taylor, AIA (HKS Venues Manager, Venues) that is what they continue to do.”  

A Different Experience

HKS architects and designers have been able to achieve that success by listening to their clients’ and then diving into a unique process to bring their desires to fruition. For the Texas Rangers, it was about giving fans the opportunity to have a complete, year-round experience.

The baseball team had already worked with HKS at its former home, Globe Life Park, when it asked the firm to design its new stadium, Globe Life Field.

“HKS presented us with opportunities that we didn’t have previously,” said Rob Matwick, Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations for the Rangers. “Throughout the design process, we challenged ourselves as to how we could use the stadium not only for the ultimate Texas Rangers experience but as a year-round scalable venue that could perform and operate similar to other HKS designed venues.”

With its elevated fan experiences, premium hospitality environments, transparent indoor-outdoor qualities and ultimate flexibility, the opportunity to host everything from graduations, wrestling matches, tractor pulls, soccer matches and football games, all in a controlled setting protected from the elements quickly made Globe Life Field the premier ballpark in all of Major League Baseball.

“It gives you a different experience than what you see at any other baseball stadium,” Matwick said. “What HKS Design Principal Fred Ortiz and the HKS team designed and delivered was the ultimate place to watch baseball and live entertainment of all types.”

Clark Hunt, Chairman and CEO of the Hunt Sports Group, recalls working with HKS to design and build Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas. Toyota Stadium drew the attention of the world in early August when FC Dallas battled Lionel Messi and his Inter Miami club before a sellout crowd.

“Our goal is for Toyota Stadium to create a memorable experience for our fans and to be a premier venue in the MLS,” said Hunt, who also serves as Chairman and CEO of the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. “My father, Lamar, enjoyed working with HKS to develop Texas’s first soccer specific stadium. Today, we work with HKS to continue to celebrate his vision, legacy and influence on global soccer.”

Charlotte Jones, of the Cowboys, said that “HKS projects always speak to, and identify with, the client. When you go to U.S. Bank Stadium, it says Minnesota Vikings. SoFi Stadium easily conjures up the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, and the Southern California community. Lucas Oil Stadium represents Indiana and of course, our own AT&T Stadium says Dallas Cowboys and Texas. To us, HKS projects are not just fancy stadiums where games and concerts and unique events take place. They are all iconic pillars of the communities in which they sit.”

“HKS projects are not just fancy stadiums where games and concerts and unique events take place. They are all iconic pillars of the communities in which they sit.”

HKS used that same vision of community in redesigning Grand Prairie Stadium, home of the Texas Super Kings of Major League Cricket. Once a minor league baseball facility, HKS designers collaborated with American Cricket Enterprises and Major League Cricket to turn it into a world-class cricket venue. It opened in July introducing North Texans to one of the world’s most popular sports in grand fashion.

A Global Reach

Meanwhile, the reach of HKS sports dominance extends beyond Dallas to other parts of the globe. After representatives of the Japanese professional baseball team, the Hokkaido Nippon Fighters, saw Globe Life Field, they asked HKS to design a comparable stadium for them, complete with a retractable roof.

In March, the team’s ES Con Field Hokkaido opened for play. HKS Design Principal Mike Rogers, AIA was honored by the team for leading HKS’s accomplishments and leadership in partnering with the team to design the country’s premier sports and entertainment venue. The stadium features a retractable roof, mixed-use development, boutique hotel as well as the world’s second-largest clubhouse, trailing only the one at Globe Life Field.

HKS is continuing its legacy and impact across the Sports and Entertainment Globe. It is currently collaborating with our local teams but also with teams in the National Football League, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Associations, NCAA, English Premier League, Texas Independent School Districts and with several major entities worldwide.

“I definitely think HKS has a home-court advantage in Dallas,” said Brown, of the American Airlines Center. “Again, it is like family. We can call them any time, day or night, and they are there for us.”

Charlotte Jones said that it is important to her family that, “HKS, just like the Cowboys, is a Dallas institution.”

“HKS goes hand in hand with the North Texas sports environment.,” she said. “When you think of a major sports venue in this area, both pro and college, HKS has had a hand in the design of many of them. Whenever anyone is considering designing a stadium or arena, HKS is always one of the first architecture firms invited to the table. It is why the Dallas Cowboys still work with them to this day.”