Russell Crader

Seven Surprising Things about Globe Life Field’s Design

Seven Surprising Things about Globe Life Field’s Design

The last time HKS-designed Globe Life Field hosted a World Series, the team that plays its home games there, the Texas Rangers, wasn’t a participant. That will change this year when the Rangers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks to determine baseball’s best.

In 2020, for health and security reasons during the height of the Covid pandemic, Major League Baseball selected Globe Life Field as the neutral site for that year’s Series matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Back then, Globe Life Field was in its first year of use and fans and players alike were still getting used to the sights and sounds of what remains Major League Baseball’s newest ballpark. Designed and built to provide the ultimate fan experience, at 4 years old, Globe Life Field is still full of surprises and interesting tidbits that make coming to a game or any Globe Life Field event more fun. Here are just a few.

1. It’s All About the Roof

The stars do indeed shine bright deep in the heart of Texas, and fans can see for themselves whenever the Rangers (or Major League Baseball during the playoffs) open the massive retractable roof at Globe Life Field. At 240,000 square feet (22,296 square meters), it is the largest single-panel operable roof in the world. And while it took three weeks to assemble the crane used to hoist the roof into place, it takes slightly less time than that — about 12 to 15 minutes — to open or close it. And even when the roof is closed, the use of 223 ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) cushions, which is lightweight and transparent, allows natural light to filter throughout the stadium.

2. Rock Around the Clock

At Globe Life Field, it’s possible to watch the game while literally sitting in a rocking chair. Located in section 203 outside the Karbach Brewing concession area in left field, the rocking chairs – which do require a game ticket – offer fans the opportunity to experience the game with a Texas “back porch feel” and a birds-eye view. And that’s not all, fans can even watch the game from picnic tables and, out at the Wild Rag Deck in centerfield, they can watch from small taco tables with in-seat service. And even if you can’t nab a seat in a rocking chair or at a picnic table, don’t worry, there are no bad seats within Globe Life Field. All 43,300 seats are designed to provide an intimate look toward the field. Even when fans head out of their seats to grab their favorite concession items or to use the restrooms, the clear, wide concourses —including a 360-degree lower-level concourse that is unique in baseball to Globe Life Field — allow fans to always keep an eye on the action. It’s all part of the overall design plan to take facility beyond just being a place to watch a game, but a place that feels like home for fans and players alike.

“One of the things that rises to the top for me is that (the Rangers) wanted to create a backyard feel, something that was a true destination amidst this larger entertainment district,” said Fred Ortiz, HKS Principal and the lead architect for Globe Life Field. “Something that would lend itself to be welcoming, to allow families and friends to have a really great time, and to actually walk away with some incredible memories.”

3. The World is Watching

Well, maybe not the whole world, but the 58’ by 150’ LED videoboard in right field is among the biggest and brightest in the Major Leagues. And when we say the board is in right field, we mean just that. HKS worked with Major League Baseball to gain approval to place the videoboard in the field of play, the only one like it in baseball. It extends 40 feet from the outfield wall over the playing surface. And although designers also did much research to ensure that a ball never reaches the scoreboard, in the unlikely event a batted ball does strike the board, stadium ground rules call for it to be ruled as a home run.

4. We’re Moving on Up (and Down)

A key design element of any HKS-designed stadium is flexibility, the ability to host a variety of professional and other top-tier events in the facility, sometimes on the same day. Globe Life Field is no different. But the baseball stadium has an additional challenge that AT&T Stadium and American Airlines Center — both also designed by HKS — do not have a 10-inch-high pitcher’s mound in the middle of it. But the mound is never truly removed for non-baseball events. According to Thomas Smith, HKS Principal and Senior Project Architect on the Globe Life Field project, the mound was designed with a hydraulic lift that takes about 10 minutes to raise and lower it whenever necessary.

“With some minor field prep and the push of a button, the mound drops below the playing surface and is covered up in preparation for setting up alternate field events like concerts, football games, or even dirt events like motocross.” 

5. The Suite Life

Globe Life Field has 71 long-term suites and 37 nightly suites that offer a range of configurations. In addition, there is ample premium club seating, some of it below the playing field, which gives fans a view and feel equivalent to those of players in the dugout. And the distance from home plate to the field level club behind it is 42 feet, which is simultaneously the closest in baseball and a tribute to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson. In fact, most of the ballpark’s field dimensions are tributes to former Ranger greats including Adrian Beltre, Ivan Rodriguez and Nolan Ryan. The close proximity of the premium seats is another staple of HKS stadiums; similar seating is found at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, as well as SoFi Stadium in California, the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

6. Forward, Arch

One key design element of Globe Life Field is found from outside the stadium and inside into the upper reaches of the outfield concourse where the “arches that make up the north colonnade are inspired by the façade of Choctaw Stadium,” Smith said. Choctaw Stadium was formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers former home, which HKS also had a hand in designing.

“Instead of simply replicating the arches on the façade of Globe Life Field, our design team decided to rotate the arches 90 degrees so we could maximize indirect daylight into the space while also creating an opportunity for fans to experience the arches as part of their journey to their seats,” Smith said.

Ortiz also noted the architectural shout out to the arches, along with other HKS-designed structures nearby such as AT&T Stadium, Texas Live! and three hotels that, along with Globe Life Field, comprise a major entertainment district that has become a destination location for fans near and far.

“It had to be about the Texas Rangers, its brand its culture, it’s identity,” Ortiz said. “Yes, we made a nod to the architecture of Globe Life Park. You see the beautiful arches that create an incredible feature that’s of the scale of the (entertainment) district. It’s a large window . . . both into the ballpark, and from the ballpark out into the district.”

7. The Global Influence

Globe Life Field has not only transformed the local North Texas sports and entertainment scene, but it has also flexed its design muscle internationally. The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters were so impressed with Globe Life Field, that team officials asked HKS to design something similar. The 35,000-seat Es Con Hokkaido stadium, the first new ballpark in Japanese baseball in two decades, opened March 30 to much fanfare. Like Globe Life Field, the Japanese stadium’s signature element is a large retractable roof. It also features a 360-degree concourse and the Fighters’ clubhouse is the second largest in the world behind only, you guessed it, the Texas Rangers.

Build Your Network at the HKS-Sponsored 2023 ULI Fall Meeting

Build Your Network at the HKS-Sponsored 2023 ULI Fall Meeting

The Urban Land Institute — the world’s oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts — will host its annual Fall Meeting from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, 2023, at the Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall. The four-day event will feature 21 development tours and more than 50 concurrent sessions highlighting the real estate industry’s best projects and most influential decision makers. Please join global design firm and premier-level sponsor, HKS, by registering for the Fall Meeting here, and don’t miss the following events:  

SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park: Designing an Authentic Los Angeles Expression Tour

Monday, Oct. 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT

Full ULI members are invited to tour HKS-designed SoFi Stadium in Inglewood and Hollywood Park, a new commercial mixed-use development that, once completed, will feature 2,500 new residences, 25 acres of public park space and will be home to the National Football League’s West Coast headquarters.  

Welcome Reception 

Monday, Oct. 30 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. PT | The Belasco Theater, 1050 S Hill St., Los Angeles, CA 90015 

Help HKS kick off this year’s Fall Meeting with a networking reception at the historic Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles.  

Opening General Session: Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2024

Tuesday, Oct. 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PT | Los Angeles Convention Center, West Exhibit Hall B 

Dan Noble, CEO and President of HKS, will give opening remarks at the Meeting’s first general session recapping ULI’s latest Emerging Trends in Real Estate® publication and further explaining how emerging trends will affect the real estate market in 2024.  

SoFi Stadium: Influencing the Future of Design with Resilience and Impact 

Tuesday, Oct. 31 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT | Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall, Concourse: 151 

Mark Williams, Global Sector Director of Venues at HKS, will join a panel to discuss SoFi Stadium’s and Hollywood Park’s innovative designs and positive impacts on the city of Inglewood. 

Timothy Meyer

Stories

Case Studies

Awards

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

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.”

Cosm

Case Study

Cosm Amplifying Experience with Shared Reality

The Colony, TX & Hollywood Park, CA

The Challenge

To design venues that offer fans a revolutionary way to experience sporting, entertainment and cultural events through shared reality.

The Design Solution

Cosm is an immersive entertainment, media, and technology company redefining the way the world experiences content through shared reality. HKS designed two venues for Cosm in The Colony, Texas, and Inglewood, California. They are scheduled to open in 2024.

By blending digital and physical experiences, Cosm venues offer fans a unique energy and vibe by fusing innovative design with immersive technology. The architecture serves to ground viewers by connecting them to their physical location with views to nature and the outdoors.

Applying design research, HKS architects partnered with Cosm to determine that a toroidal dome would provide elevated viewing experiences for a larger number of fans in the dome, the primary gathering space at Cosm venues.  The environment creates an unparalleled viewing experience for fans participating in events remotely.

The Design Impact

Design that amplifies the benefits of shared reality will enable Cosm guests to experience the best seat in the house, remotely. The shared physical and digital experience will democratize access to global events and provide educational and cultural opportunities for surrounding communities.

The Colony, TX
The Colony, TX

Project Features

Hollywood Park, CA
Hollywood Park, CA
Hollywood Park, CA

Architecture Trio Forms Alliance in Preparation for Brisbane 2032

Clint Nash

Case Studies

The Whole College Athlete: Designing for Success On and Off the Field

The Whole College Athlete: Designing for Success On and Off the Field

The career of a storied professional athlete begins early—with a passion and preternatural skill, neighborhood pickup games and youth sports, and finally, collegiate-level competition. University or college coaches and administrators understand this trajectory, and they’re preparing incoming student athletes for long careers, whether on or off the field. Because, on average, colleges support 20 sports programs—of which only 2% are expected to turn professional after college. It’s just the statistical reality that few athletes will become the next Tom Brady, despite the stories abounding of elite athletes playing longer into their career. This is where the concept of the “whole athlete” comes into play.

The “whole athlete” means supporting innovations for peak performance and the means to support an athlete as a well-rounded student. Today’s student-athletes represent the pinnacle of not only physical, but also mental fitness. At HKS, we’ve leveraged this concept to create guiding design principles for collegiate sports facilities, integrating health facilities and the latest science in sports medicine, brain health, and related fields.

HKS embarked on a research project in 2021 to learn more about leveraging the built environment to enhance athletic performance, recovery, and well-being. An interdisciplinary team including experts from HKS’ Sports & Entertainment and Health practices, and the firm’s Advisory Services group, identified five characteristics of facilities design that support the whole athlete. Such facilities are:

To apply this framework, we reviewed the literature to build on our acute understanding of athletes as an accumulation of experiences, from youth sports up until they step foot on campus. And we’re applying study findings to explore how these experiences intersect with the latest trends in research that bridge healthcare and medicine with facility design.

Facilities at the academic core can bind student athletes from diverse backgrounds to reap the true benefits of youth sports participation—socially, physically, and cognitively. Most origin stories begin with the true benefits of youth sports participation. Before their Hall of Fame careers—and before they stepped foot on a college campus—Tom Brady, Sue Bird, Bo Jackson, and Jim Brown came of age as multi-sport athletes. While there are risks, youth participation in organized sports is generally a net boon to mental health, as summarized by a large systematic review of the literature. Leveraging brain-health-informed environments will continue to help student-athletes in their athletic careers and beyond.

That’s our aspiration, but how do we get there? And how do we first embrace the sheer diversity of student-athletes?

Before Jimmy Butler played for Marquette and then garnered the name “Jimmy Buckets,” he slept on friends’ couches all through high school. In 2014, as the debate around pay and sponsorships first took off, former University of Connecticut basketball star, Shabazz Napier, famously stated that he often went to bed, “starving.” To add context to these anecdotes: many student athletes come from lower socio-economic backgrounds, meaning that inclusive design is a critical complement to supportive policies and practices. Once on campus, student athletes undergo athletic, academic, psychological, and psychosocial transitions—and the uniqueness of these experiences, intersecting with all that’s come in the past, means many require greater resources and coping strategies.

Taking a step back, today’s collegiate athletes differ significantly from those of previous generations: there’s increased professionalism—through sports science resources, academic resources, coaching and training opportunities. This fall, the entering class of Freshman was born in 2005, making these student-athletes digital natives. In all that’s to be considered for how today’s collegiate athletes are different than those in the past, it’s symbolic that an athlete like Paige Bueckers, UConn’s star guard, has 1 million followers on Instagram, a technology didn’t exist as Sue Bird, also a UConn alum, entered the WNBA draft in 2002.

The diversity of student-athlete backgrounds impacts planning decisions for collegiate sports facilities, too. Researchers have found that of 125 Division 1 campuses, only 13% had “athletic academic support programs located in or adjacent to the academic core of the campus.” Athletic support services removed from campuses’ academic core create a greater degree of student-athlete segregation—a clear problem that symbolically and physically removes student-athletes from the broader collegiate community.

Advancing sports medicine means better recovery, better performance, and better long-term health. Consider the following stories. In 2013, the Florida State Seminoles saw an 88% year-over-year drop in injuries because the team adopted wearable technologies from Catapult GPS. And one randomized clinical trial found that patients who received a few weeks of pain reprocessing therapy saw a significant drop in reported chronic back pain. These are advances that have significant implications for today’s student athletes. Designated recovery spaces, such as cold/hot tubs, compression therapy rooms, and foam rolling/stretching areas, can help athletes address muscle soreness, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation after training sessions or competitions.

The average collegiate athlete spends 40 hours per week in athletic-related activities—and moderate and vigorous exercise makes up a significant portion of this time. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that Americans get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week—but only  1 in 4 Americans meets these goals, according to the CDC. There’s a healthy balance to be had—and while the average American is more likely to be overcome by a sedentary lifestyle, athletes are more concerned with burnout.

As competitive athletes push the body and mind, they also push research to show the outer bounds of what the body and mind can achieve. On this front, a research question would be: what is the body’s limit with intense exertion? NIRS is a technology that measures hemodynamic activity, or changes in blood flow, throughout the brain which shows that athletes may reach physical and cognitive exhaustion after too much exercise. Consider the extreme exertion of a marathon or a long-distance competitive swim. Researchers found that over the course of the race, participants saw 6 percent in grey matter atrophy. For student-athletes, this fact carries implications for design.

Over the past year, we’ve explored brain health in connection to office workers, but the concept has far broader implications, from college to the workforce and beyond. Cognitive fitness for athletes is a key concern that needs attention to avenues for not just mental health services, but proactive social health strategies, opportunities for creative expression, rest and recovery, and socialization.

Athletes need access to healthy choices, and design strategies to make the healthy choice the easy choice. To determine where this happens, Point-of-decision design, a “person-centric” construct provides personas and journey mapping to determine key areas. Through this lens, on-site dining and nutrition counseling provides pre-training nutrition and post-training replenishment of glycogen stores, hydration, anti-inflammation and recovery nutrition.

Recovery is pursued in tandem with better performance. Beyond medicine and nutrition, you may have read about virtual reality capabilities and bio-mechanic analyses in sports: transitioning a batter’s swing, a swimmer’s stroke, and a defenseman’s slapshot into data for next-level athletic performance. Efficiency translates into a faster time or higher shooting percentage, because altogether, each new advance means a more holistic and tailored approach for each athlete.

We’ve discussed a holistic approach to today’s athletes, and recent advents in sports medicine, and we apply these insights into the built environment.

Importantly, we’re looking to integrate principles of enriched environments to athletic facilities. Space must be integrated at multiple levels. Versatile facilities provide for multiple student-athlete needs, but without planning considerations, students may become isolated from the broader academic community. Facility design should go hand-in-hand with planning. Several colleges and universities are integrating sustainability and academic goals into the design of sports facilities. Arizona State University joined the Green Sports Alliance, pursuing zero-waste status. The Sun Devil Fitness Complex nudges athletes and visitors alike toward green behaviors, while leveraging sustainable design features.

But taking a step back for context, less than 2% of student athletes go pro, but most student-athletes either want to continue their academic studies after graduation or leverage transferable skills gained from athletic participation for a career. At the University of Florida, Trinity Thomas recently tied the record for the most perfect 10s in NCAA gymnastics history. Watch an interview here where she discusses how she got into gymnastics, and how she looks to apply a major in physiology and kinesiology to a career in sports medicine.

Consider the NCAA GOALS study, with the most-recent iteration produced in 2020. Two-thirds of student athletes wanted to pursue graduate studies, and a vast majority reported that collegiate-sports participation provided transferrable skills to future careers.

And thinking about the long term, we must focus on brain health. Design principles related to brain health brings together student and athletic needs—quiet zones, study spaces, and technology integration.

Thinking about mental well-being and brain health, the placement of facilities and academic support systems should serve to integrate student-athletes, not isolate them. In 2020, the NCAA GOALS study revealed that feeling a sense of belonging is on the rise among student athletes—although there is room for improvement. Today’s student athletes are treated uniquely but distinctly from the rest of the student body. Student athletes have unique needs, but they also want better integration with their campus peers.

Thinking about mental well-being and brain health, the placement of facilities and academic support systems should serve to integrate student-athletes, not isolate them.

All dimensions of athletic facilities begins with planning—and student athletes are a population integral to this vision. HKS’ UC San Diego North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood creates truly mixed-use experiences by first understanding how students live and learn. The campus is the largest living and learning community in the University of California system and promotes well-being and sustainability through the integration of living space, retail space, dining experiences, and outdoor and public spaces.

In all, collegiate sports facilities are advancing by incorporating innovative designs and features that support the holistic needs of student athletes, including their academic, physical, and mental well-being. These modern facilities prioritize accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability while integrating advanced technology and resources to optimize athletic performance and recovery. By creating comprehensive and adaptable environments, collegiate sports facilities are elevating the student athlete experience and fostering success both on and off the field.

D Magazine: Major League Cricket (MLC) is Coming to North Texas!

A Winning Design for Championship Venues

A Winning Design for Championship Venues

For decades, Wheaties cereal has carried the tagline, “The Breakfast of Champions.” But HKS has had its own high-level championship run over the years. 

Since 2010, HKS-designed buildings have hosted Super Bowls, the World Series, NCAA Final Fours and the College Football Playoffs National Championships. The streak continued in 2021 when Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament for the third time. That was followed in June by the U. S. Gymnastics Championships, highlighted by Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles, which were held at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena, yet another world-class venue that involved HKS designers. 

In February 2022, Super Bowl LVI was held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. In August of that year, the Chengdu Phoenix Mountain Sports Center in China — which has one of the world’s largest curved, open cable domes — was the site of the World University Games. The Games were postponed from 2021 because of COVID-19 concerns. 

The pace hasn’t slowed down, either. The American Airlines Center in Dallas hosted the 2023 NCAA Women’s Final Four this spring, and the College Football Playoffs National Championship was held at SoFi Stadium in January. The stadium will be in the spotlight again when it hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympic Games. In 2026, it will be a host site for the World Cup, along with HKS-designed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

Also upcoming are the 2026 NCAA Men’s and 2028 Women’s Final Fours at Lucas Oil Stadium, and in July of this year, SoFi Stadium will hold the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. Arlington’s Globe Life Field will host the MLB All-Star Game in 2024.  

While the participants in championship contests are unknown at the start of their respective seasons — with the final determinations all decided on the field or court — the buildings that host them are years in the making, with the opportunity to hold championship events a major focal point of the planning and design. 

Championship Design Means Creating ‘a Wow Factor’

Although AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys), U.S. Bank Stadium (Minnesota Vikings), Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts) and SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles Rams and Chargers) were all designed to meet the specific desires of the home teams that play in them, the team owners also had bolder ideas for their facilities. They wanted their new sports homes to be big enough and grand enough to host Super Bowls and other high-profile events. 

As Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones put it in a 2009 Wall Street Journal article about his team’s then-new home, “we wanted this stadium to have a wow factor.”

The owners of the Texas Rangers also anticipated big things for its new HKS-designed Globe Life Field before the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shut down those plans on the eve of Opening Day in 2020. At the time, there was no way to know it would welcome the World Series later that year, but the retractable roof stadium, with its ample concourses, swanky clubhouses and climate-controlled seating area became the perfect home after the pandemic prompted Major League Baseball to use a single site for its Fall Classic.

Those who attended Super Bowl LVI were exposed to a variety of digital upgrades. Like his Colts, Cowboys and Vikings contemporaries, Los Angeles Rams Owner and Chairman, E. Stanley Kroenke, asked HKS designers to develop plans for SoFi that would allow it to host global entertainment events and turn them into ultimate experiences for a live and television audience.

The scoreboard displays a Congratulations message to the Los Angeles Dodgers after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game Six to win the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

Staying Local and Flexible

To deliver on those requests, HKS designers approach stadium designing with some clear thoughts in mind. One design element that is a hallmark of HKS-designed stadiums are clarity of structural expression and transparency, which heightens the fan experience. So fans who walk into AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Field or SoFi Stadium will immediately recognize the ability to sort of “see through” the structures to the outside even though the stadiums themselves are enclosed or covered.

There are other important factors as well. Even though the stadiums will be showcased to the world, designers look at them as a vital and visible part of the local community. The owners of the Colts, for example, wanted the look of Lucas Oil Stadium to pay homage to the fieldhouses found throughout Indiana, while the shape of U.S. Bank Stadium reminds of Northern European design.

In addition to leaning into those roots, U.S. Bank Stadium also had to satisfy another requirement to reach championship status; designers had to figure out a way to make it withstand Minnesota’s harsh climate. They designed the first ETFE roof in an American stadium, which allows lots of natural light while blocking the brutal cold. This design element was put to the test in February 2018 during Super Bowl LII, the coldest Super Bowl on record with temperatures in Minneapolis reaching a high of 9°F on game day. 

And at SoFi Stadium, architects had to embed it 100 feet into the ground so that it wouldn’t interfere with flights in and out of Los Angeles International Airport, which sits just three miles away. But the deep dig and the stadium’s proximity to LAX also provided designers with a unique opportunity to use the stadium’s roof — which contains LED lights — as a sort of real-time projection screen for passengers flying overhead.

In the case of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he wanted AT&T Stadium to maintain a tangible link back to the team’s iconic former home, Texas Stadium. So, the design for the new stadium’s signature retractable roof includes a “hole” in it when the roof is open that exactly matches the shape of the hole at the old stadium, including its rounded corners.

In addition, the stadiums all are designed to have a high degree of flexibility. Designers created AT&T Stadium with not only the ability to host championship football contests from high school to pros, but ones for college basketball or even professional Motocross. 

And the ability to quickly and seamlessly provide multiple uses isn’t limited to the world of traditional sporting events. With Major League Baseball shut down at the time, the first events at Globe Life Field in 2020 were local high school graduations. The inaugural event at SoFi Stadium was scheduled to be a two-day Taylor Swift concert before COVID-19 disrupted those plans.

An Enhanced Fan Experience

To offer those various events, though, requires that designers and their clients team up to create a greatly enhanced fan experience. For the past decade or so, team owners have realized that simply making a trip to a stadium to see their favorite player is not enough for most fans. Their guests want to know what they are going to see — and do — once they get there. If it’s not glitzy enough, many patrons will opt to stay home and watch games from the less-expensive comfort of their own TV rooms.

For most stadiums designed recently, that enhanced fan experience begins with upgraded technology features, particularly a large, high-tech videoboard.  When AT&T Stadium opened in 2009, it held what was then the largest LED videoboard in the world, stretching from one 20-yard line to the other. The high-definition Mitsubishi picture gave fans seated at the highest points of the stadium, the ability to watch a game as if they were watching at home on their own big-screen televisions. And that was the point.

But SoFi Stadium, which opened without fans in 2020, is the newest king of championship stadium design. It’s 2.2-million-pound, dual-sided, center-hung, circular scoreboard is largest ever built and will provide practically every fan who visits, no matter where inside SoFi they sit or stand, with a simultaneous view of the information on the screen.

The videoboard is the only 4K end-to-end production in sports and features the largest LED content playback system in history. The board also provides fans with unique programming including live content, statistics and animated content — important data for aficionados of the increasingly popular fantasy sports leagues.

“For us, it was how would we go about thinking about reconnecting fans with media in a different way,” said Lance Evans, AIA, a principal at HKS and one of the primary SoFi architects. “If I was going to watch a game at home, I’d have my iPad, I’d have my phone. How could we do that at an NFL game, at the same size, across the entire field?”

So, what will the design of the next Super Bowl or World Series stadium look like? HKS designers already have some ideas that Evans describes as both “exciting and endless.” Among them, pushing the concept of the “stadium” beyond its limited physical footprint into the limitless virtual realm.

“The integration of technology in physical environments extends venue access exponentially,” said Mark A. Williams, FAIA, HKS Principal in Charge of the SoFi Stadium project. “Imagine a venue that sells 70,000 physical tickets to an event and leveraging technology to reach previously untapped audiences and markets around the globe.”

And that means that perhaps one day soon, a championship venue will exist at anytime and anywhere.

Jaime De la Garza

Chris Jenkins

New HKS-Designed Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Baseball Stadium Opens 

New HKS-Designed Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Baseball Stadium Opens 

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters opened their new 35,000-capacity Es Con Field Hokkaido March 30 against the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese professional baseball league. The ballpark, designed by HKS, a global architecture and design firm, is the crown jewel of a luxury mixed-used development that sits on an 80-acre greenfield site in Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido, Japan. 

“This is the first new ballpark to open in Japanese baseball in two decades and it will quickly establish a new bar for fan experiences and amenities,” said Mike Rogers, a Principal with HKS. “The materials we used and specific design details are representative of historic Sapporo architecture and a tribute to the community that loves this team. It is a homecoming for the franchise to once again be playing games in Hokkaido and we’re proud to have created such a beautiful venue for the Fighters’ return.” 

“This is the first new ballpark to open in Japanese baseball in two decades and it will quickly establish a new bar for fan experiences and amenities.”

The new stadium features a retractable roof like the Fighters’ Major League Baseball counterpart in America, the Texas Rangers, whose Globe Life Field ballpark was also designed by HKS, and it has an asymmetrical outfield wall – only the second of its kind in Japanese pro baseball. The symbolic triangular façade resembles a typical Hokkaido gable roof shape, and the venue’s actual roof can hold and shed up to 14 feet of snow, a necessity because Hokkaido is one of the world’s snowiest locations. 

The stadium is oriented to get the most morning sun and optimize growing conditions for its Kentucky Bluegrass playing field. The fan experience is enhanced by the heavy use of glass to give the stadium and indoor/outdoor feel, as well as three large doors on the ground floor that allows fans to be outside during a game. Es Con Field Hokkaido also has 360-degree concourse, and the main entrance lobby is only 18 rows from the field. 

But Es Con Field Hokkaido is more than a baseball stadium. The area around it, known as Hokkaido Ballpark Village, will feature a museum, hotel, restaurant, sauna and brewery, all with views of the field.  The sauna, or Onsen, for which Hokkaido is known, will allow hotel guests to emerge from the water and sit on benches to watch a game. Plans also call for the opening later this year of a new child care center, as well as a senior living residence on the site by 2024 along with a medical mall. 

Jennifer Sutton

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