Planning for future facilities requires careful forecasting and community support
This is an excerpt from Managing Sport Facilities-3rd Edition by Gil Fried.
Planning for Future Facilities
Future facilities raise numerous concerns such as where to build, what to build, and how to pay for the facility. Only through effective planning can a facility be developed that meets the greatest current needs, anticipates future needs, and causes the least amount of harm. For example, facilities today need to be planned with an eye toward media exposure, demographics, property size, planned events, being environmentally friendly (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified), and the sellability of commercial rights such as naming rights and personal seat licenses. "Typical Planning Questions for a New Sport Facility" lists planning questions that one should ask when considering the construction of a new sport facility.
This planning process starts with an analysis of existing internal and external constituents (stakeholders). The internal constituents are the people who will use the facility, such as athletes, students, or spectators. The external constituents are stakeholders outside the facility such as government leaders, alumni, donors, and others who have an interest in the facility but are outside the traditional facility planning process. A politician may approve funds that can help construct the facility, and she may eventually use the facility. However, this person is still considered an external constituent since she is not a primary user. People who are potential internal constituents because they might at one time use the facility are distinguished from people for whom the facility is planned and who may use the facility every week.
How should a group, whether public or private, plan for a new facility? Steps include the following:
- Conducting a feasibility study
- Developing a potential budget
- Organizing various planning committees
- Setting realistic goals and objectives
- Researching the political and financial marketplace
- Trying to bring aboard the right people before the project even starts
- Garnering community support
- Conducting a needs assessment
- Identifying comparable facilities
When planning a facility, many architects and facility owners hope to receive some type of certification, which is regarded as a badge of honor. Although every facility needs to meet minimum safety requirements and pass inspection before receiving an occupancy permit, many facility owners look for a way to proclaim to the world that their facility is better than the rest. Each certification can be classified based on complexity, thoroughness, green standard, costs to build the facility, and a variety of other criteria. The difference between each certification type might rest with the organization offering the certification. Some government and nonprofit organizations offer certification, and some for-profit entities have entered into the business. Some certifications take years to receive and are very complex, whereas others might require the completion of a simple survey focused on what the facility is doing. The cost of certification can range from yearly fees to more than $50,000 for elite certifications.
Some common certifications include the following:
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a voluntary, consensus-based program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. Developed by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, LEED provides building owners and operators a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. More than 7,000 buildings have gone through the certification process. Based on the number of points received, a facility can be certified as silver, gold, or platinum. The first National Football League stadium to receive LEED certification was Soldier Field (existing building) in 2012. The first Major League Baseball stadium to be certified was Nationals Park (new construction) in 2008. Several National Basketball Association and National Hockey League arenas underwent modification and received LEED certification in 2009, including Philips Arena, Moda Center, Bell Centre, and American Airlines Center. Although the fee for certification is less than $0.10 per square foot (roughly $20,000-$60,000 per project, plus other soft costs that can be in the thousands), the bigger costs is in the construction, renovation, and operation phases, where strategies need to be followed to earn the necessary points. These costs typically are reclaimed over time through energy efficiency and reduced operating costs.
- Green Globes is an online auditing tool that guides the integration of environmental performance in primarily new construction projects and assesses the design of green buildings against best practices and standards. Green Globes is used primarily in Canada, where it was adopted by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada in 2004.
- Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF) was founded in 2010 to provide a cheaper and faster alternative to LEED. Facility owners can choose a prescriptive or performance-based criterion evaluated by a third-party architect or engineer. The process costs between $4,000 and $12,000 and evaluates components such as energy or water efficiency, occupancy health, waste reduction, and innovative practices.
- EarthCraft is a 400-point evaluation program that requires energy data for 12 months, a design review, a preconstruction meeting, two predrywall visits, and a final visit upon completion of the project. The review costs $6,000 for up to 3,000 square feet (278.7 sq m) and then $0.50 for every additional square foot.
Why should a facility, whether existing or new, explore certification? Certification provides a seal of approval from an independent organization. In addition, certified building are more cost effective, are better for the environment, and last longer with fewer issues over the life of the building.
Typical Planning Questions for a New Sport Facility
- Will the facility be an integral part of the organization?
- Does the facility take into account current and future needs?
- Is the facility planned for maximum usage?
- Is the facility centrally located, and are there existing transportation routes such as roads?
- Is adequate parking available?
- Are utilities available such as electricity, sewage, water, and gas?
- Will the facility comply with all local, state, and national standards?
- Has the soil been tested for any contamination?
- Has the title been searched to make sure there are no claims against the property such as liens?
- Will the facility be constructed with cost reduction, environmental concerns, and reduced maintenance costs as top priorities?
- Can the space be maximized - for example, can the rooftop be used for additional recreational activities?
- Has safety been highlighted throughout the planning process?
- Has system engineering been analyzed to reduce electrical and maintenance costs?
- Are locker rooms planned with sloped floors so water can drain effectively?
- Have surface choices been analyzed to lower maintenance costs and reduce the threat of dust, allergens, and other airborne material?
- Is the facility planned with adequate buffer room between activity areas?
- Will the ceiling height be sufficient to support all intended uses?
- Is the facility designed with enough usable storage areas?
- Will the facility meet all lighting, sound, and related usage standards?
- Will the facility utilize security systems such as closed-circuit television, card scanners, or special locks?
- Have broadcasting issues been taken into consideration if there may be broadcasts in the future?
- Are the needs of the media, such as a press box, being considered?
- Are scorekeeping and timekeeping needs being considered?
- Will the facility need specialized equipment such as backboard systems, floor plates, wall hangers, ceiling attachments, and other specialty items?
- Will specialized rooms be needed for such activities as ticket sales or laundry?
- Will personal transportation (vertical, horizontal) be installed?
- Will the facility accommodate the needs of the disabled, and how will it accomplish this goal?
- Will the facility utilize general or reserved admissions, and what type of seating options will be available?
- What risk management steps have been taken to avoid both minor and serious threats?
- How many bathrooms will be available, and will there be options for men, women, children, and families?
- Is there enough room for people to mingle?
- How many concession stands will be built, and where will they be positioned?
Based on Details, details 1985.
If any public funds will be used, the planning process requires community involvement in order to generate community buy-in. Any effort to reach out to the public requires the facility planners to be honest. People should not be invited to meetings if they will not be allowed to provide meaningful input that will be used. If people attend the meetings and are ignored, the process will generate more negativity than would be the case if it had never been undertaken. Although the community meeting should be very formal, it must also be fun and engaging to help bring people to meetings in the future. Numerous community boards fail because the meetings are not productive, are boring, and are a waste of everyone's time. This process can also be enhanced if the board members are focused on the public good rather than individual agendas.
Often the most important part of gaining community support is convincing the public about the need for the facility. Through utilizing common sense and allies, facility planners can win some opponents over. Some opponents may need incentives, which can be identified through negotiations. Others will always be opponents. But planners should never burn bridges, even if there is posturing. People who are major opponents today may change their tune years down the road (e.g., when they have grandchildren who want to use the facility). Thus it is important to take care when dealing with opponents in the planning process.
Some opponents will use the strategy known as NIMBY ("not in my backyard"). According to this position, the facility is worthwhile and is needed, but it should be built someplace else. For example, citizens frequently are in favor of jails but do not want one built in their town. And although some die-hard sport fans would love to see a stadium within walking distance of their homes, other fans do not want the traffic and noise associated with having a stadium in their "backyards." At the extreme ends of the spectrum are supporters who want the facility no matter where it is built and their opposites, the BANANA ("build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything") opponents. These people oppose building a facility because of a reluctance to spend public funds, a dislike of sport, or countless other reasons. Regardless of the reason for support or opposition, a facility planner needs to understand and appreciate opponents and respect their right to disagree.
For example, a minor league baseball stadium was built in 1996 in New Britain, Connecticut, on land formerly used as high school baseball and softball fields. This caused some conflict with the high school, which eventually moved to another field at the park. Neighbors were supportive of some elements of the stadium but not other elements; this led to a lawsuit and city council hearings in 2002 after the team held fireworks shows after a number of Friday-night games. Some neighbors complained that the fireworks broke windows, disturbed their sleep, upset their pets, and even caused structural damage. The team countered that not a single neighbor complained or requested compensation for damaged property. The fireworks were not an issue in previous years because they occurred between 9:00 and 9:45 p.m. and lasted around 15 minutes. However, in 2002 a game was delayed due to a high school graduation ceremony next door and then ran 15 innings; therefore, the fireworks did not go off until around 11 p.m. and lasted 8 minutes. The late-night disturbance galvanized the residents. The city council adopted a 10:30 p.m. limit for fireworks and formed a committee made up of all involved parties, but the neighbors were not satisfied and sued to prevent the fireworks promotions, which sometimes involved a schedule of 15 fireworks shows a season. The suit filed in 2005 asked the court for an injunction limiting the number of fireworks shows and for monetary damages. The court issued an injunction, limited the team to only one fireworks show a month, and awarded the neighbors who sued $100 each. The neighbors won in court and were able to prevent the regular fireworks displays. Many of the neighbors regularly go to the games so some of the biggest detractors were also supporters of the team, but wanted their voices heard (Esposito v. New Britain Baseball Club, Inc., 2005).
It is also crucial for planners to be forthright from the very beginning. If those involved in the planning process believe that they have been heard and that their concerns have been addressed, they will be more likely to be supporters rather than detractors. Fairfield University in Connecticut was sued by four neighbors over playing fields equipped with lights. The neighbors claimed that the sound was too loud and that lights from the fields allowed them to read the newspaper in their houses at night without any of their own lights on (Tepfer, 1999). If these neighbors had been involved in the planning process and had been informed about the systems being installed and the times they would be used, the lawsuit could possibly have been averted. At the same time, though, it is important to note that even if everyone is involved in the planning process and every view has been raised, there will always be disgruntled people who will challenge the plans for a facility.
Some community facility planning boards travel to visit other facilities to compare and contrast various features. This is an active planning component that can generate enthusiasm among participants because they learn more about their purposes and the importance of their analysis in shaping the facility. However, voters and supporters may be resentful if too many trips are taken or if the trips are used as political payoff. Special care should be taken to choose committee members who will represent their constituents in an honest and forthright manner.
Learn more about Managing Sport Facilities, Third Edition.More Excerpts From Managing Sport Facilities 3rd Edition
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