By Chris DeVolder, HOK
Hundreds of years ago, a sports facility served as a city’s hub. It occupied the main public square or area where citizens assembled to support civic activities and housed functions including hospitality, food and retail.
By the mid-20th century, many new sports venues were built outside the central business district. Such facilities are often surrounded by parking space and focus on a single use, resulting in disconnection from the city’s day-to-day life and infrastructure.
Today, many new sports facilities are returning to city centres as part of sports-oriented, mixed-use developments. There’s a focus on engaging residents, daytime workers and visitors every day of the week – not just on game or match days.
Developers of arenas in cities including Edmonton in Canada and Detroit, Michigan, are following the successful model of the Kansas City Power & Light District and the Nationwide Arena District in Columbus, Ohio, which integrate sports, entertainment, retail, office and residential. These projects promote related development and maximise return on investment while creating vibrant, sustainable urban communities.
As well as economic sustainability, design strategies related to the site and landscape, transportation, materials and resources, energy and the indoor environment can help operators minimise impact on the environment while improving the bottom line.
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