New York Times Highlights HOK’s Approach to Stadium and Arena Premium Seating Design
HOK Design Principal Bill Johnson explains the firm’s approach to designing premium seating products and amenities to ensure a positive game-day experience and maximize a facility’s revenue potential.
“It wasn’t long ago that fans at sporting events had only a handful of ticket options: Box seats, reserved seats and general admission seats, with perhaps a premium for the most desirable locations, like behind home plate or on the 50-yard line. Clubs and suites were often tucked into the ends of stadiums and the upper decks.
“But like airlines, hotels and other service providers, teams have increasingly sliced and diced their stadiums and arenas to generate more revenue by appealing to fans with ever more refined tastes and a craving for status. This trend has been driven in part by teams trying to extract as much money from fans for whom cost is no barrier, like the hedge fund managers and entertainers who pay thousands of dollars to sit, and be seen sitting, courtside at a basketball game.
“At the same time, teams are creating what they call ‘premium experiences’ for fans in the least expensive corners of stadiums and arenas so they do not feel left out.”
The New Atlanta Stadium will offer fans an immersive, technology-driven, game-day experience.
“‘Those kids that come out on game day, those are your future fans, and if you don’t have that experience growing up, then the odds of you becoming emotionally attached is less,’ said Bill Johnson, senior vice president and design principal at HOK, a leading stadium designer. ‘It’s not about just making the revenue, but protecting the legacy of the game.’
“Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, is wrestling with how to compete with television while convincing fans that attending games is affordable and unique. In the 71,000-seat stadium he plans to open in 2017, Mr. Blank wants to ensure that even the fans in the cheapest seats have an enticing enough experience so that they will leave their living rooms and come to the game.
“The stadium, which Mr. Johnson was involved in designing, will include a 360-degree five-story high-definition video board that will be visible to every fan; a 61,000-square-foot plaza for entertainment before and after the game; a 100-yard bar on the upper concourse with various food and beverage options; and a lounge with game-day content to appeal to fantasy football fans.
“At the same time, the stadium will include about 7,500 club seats and two ‘ultraexclusive V.I.P. clubs,’ some with sideline access, parking and private entrances. While the number of premium seats is up, the total number of seats is down from 74,000 in the old stadium.”