#TITLE#How to Build an Athletic Fence with Sports Sheeting#/TITLE#

Whenever you hear or read about a professional staff researching the possibility of moving to a different city, the desire for a new stadium is often the primary reason. A sparkling new stadium filled with modern amenities attracts fans in droves — which generates significant revenues for the group and the regional businesses that surround the facility such as pubs, restaurants, hotels and retail shops. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders are the latest instance of a sport’s team making a move in search of greener pastures. Playing in the antiquated Oakland Coliseum, which was constructed more than 50 years ago, the group generated a mere $69 million in stadium revenues in 2015, according to Forbes magazine. By comparison, the Dallas Cowboys, playing in the immaculate, state-of-the-art AT&T Stadium, raked in more than $440 million. Not able to obtain financial support to build a new stadium in Oakland, the team’s ownership sought and received approval from the league to move to Las Vegas, where it will play in a recently assembled 65,000-seat domed stadium (price tag: $1.9 billion) tentatively scheduled for completion in 2020. Annual earnings projections for the new facility range from $250-$350 million.

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While the origins of the sports stadium can be traced to the early Greeks, the first modern facilities were constructed in the mid-to-late 19th century. These sport venues were designed with practicality in mind — the aim was to hold as many audiences as possible, and amenities were virtually non-existent. Most of these early structures were single-purpose facilities constructed mainly of wood, several of which were destroyed by fire. Goodison Park, a Liverpool, England soccer stadium that opened in 1892, was the first sports facility to incorporate a concrete-and-steel construction. The tendency of single-purpose stadiums lasted through much of the 20th century. Facilities such as Fenway Park in Boston, which opened in 1912, and Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and Wrigley Field in Chicago, both of which were completed in 1914, were especially built for baseball. Designed to blend into the surrounding city neighborhoods, these facilities featured comparatively small seating capacities and provided fans with an intimate, up-close ballpark experience that almost made them feel as though they were part of the activity.


The post-World War II migration of Americans from the city to the suburbs together with the increase in popularity of professional football resulted in the arrival of the multipurpose sports stadium concept, which served as the model for the facilities built during the 1960s and 1970s. Designed for both football and baseball, these round, symmetrical concrete facilities were typically constructed in suburban areas and provided easy access by interstate highway. Spacious parking lots were required to accommodate the heavy vehicle traffic, as these facilities were inaccessible via the towns’ mass transit systems. Examples of the multipurpose stadium concept included Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C.; Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia; Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh; Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium; and Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Houston Astrodome, which opened in 1965, was the world’s first multipurpose stadium to feature a domed roof and an artificial turf field.


While multipurpose stadiums offered the advantage of practicality and versatility, the uninspired cookie-cutter design featured in most of these facilities eventually fell out of favor with audiences, particularly old-school baseball fans who longed for a return to the local ballpark feel and look. This caused the growth of the retro-classic concept inspired by older facilities like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. The first of the retro-classic ballparks was Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Completed in 1992, Camden Yards rests on the site of an old B&O railroad yard in South Baltimore and features a sprawling, 1,100-foot-long, eight-story refurbished railroad warehouse as a backdrop. Other stadiums motivated by the Camden Yards model include Progressive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, AT&T Park in San Francisco and Miller Park in Milwaukee. These facilities combine the retro look and feel with all the modern features and amenities necessary to meet the requirements of the 21st-century sports enthusiast. These brand new baseball stadiums include expansive scoreboards and video replay screens, as well as natural grass or artificial turf fields which are softer than artificial turf.



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While the traditional stadium design catered to families, modern stadiums to appeal to the 18-to-34-year-old demographic. These younger people view going to a sporting event as a total entertainment experience that entails far more than watching a ball game. The design of newer facilities typically incorporates features like pedestrian malls, entertainment plazas and concourses located outside the stadium that allow fans to dine, shop and socialize before and after the game. Now’s facilities also feature numerous seating environments that extend well beyond the conventional stadium seat in the middle of a crowded row of spectators. Premium seating options include private suites which resemble living rooms and can accommodate 10-15 fans. These suites include a private entrance from the stadium concourse and also have features such as buffets, bars, television monitors and computers with Internet access. Some stadiums even offer field suites located in the front row which place fans right on top of the activity. Stadium amenities have also come a long way, regarding the variety of food options. In addition to the hot dog, beer and bag of peanuts, most stadiums offer a broad range of luxury cuisine and craft beers and wine to cater to a younger, upscale crowd. Menu options at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, widely regarded as the crown jewel of NFL facilities, include everything from chicken fried quail to a brisket sandwich on pretzel bread smothered in melted onions, piquillo peppers and melted cheddar cheese. While the prevalence of single-purpose stadiums continues, there are signs of an eventual return to the multipurpose idea. Based on John Rhodes, Director of Sports, Recreation and Entertainment in the London office of HOK, the architectural company largely responsible for creating the Camden Yards concept, the multipurpose design was gaining traction across Europe over the last ten years. Rhodes suggests there is an increasing shift toward developing more civic-type facilities which can host a wide array of athletic and community events. Sustainability has also become a vital factor in all new stadium projects to comply with LEED requirements. In a recent StarTalk Radio episode, Stadiums of the Future, Neil deGrasse Tyson dives into modern stadium designs and technology with co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice and Benjamin Brillat of IBM Sports. Bejamin Brillat discusses how these advancements start right from when the stadium is just a hole in the floor. They bury the conduit in the concrete rightbefore it gets poured. Future designs will not only change the way fans encounter a game, but it could also change the sport.

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