HOK’s Ryan Gedney Discusses the Impact of Sports-Anchored Mixed-Use Developments
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, HOK’s Ryan Gedney discusses the evolution of sports-anchored mixed-use districts and the growing impact of these developments on their cities.
“In cities throughout North America, where “revitalize the core” is the latest mantra, a new generation of fully integrated sports arenas and stadiums is coming on stream as anchor tenants for mixed-use districts designed to entice more people to live, work and play downtown.
“These new sports and entertainment facilities have little in common with the aging sports stadiums built decades ago in city suburbs.
“Arenas and stadiums are being designed to work harder and to be better neighbours, explains Ryan Gedney, vice president and senior project designer for HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, which counts among its many projects Rogers Place, Little Caesars Arena (above), and Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus, Ohio, completed in 2000 and considered the forerunner of today’s sports/mixed-use district trend.
“Mr. Gedney describes Little Caesars Arena, scheduled to open in downtown Detroit this September, as a ‘deconstructed arena,’ not only because it’s integrated with its surroundings, but also because the interior is designed to attract daily foot traffic to offices, retail shops and restaurants. Compare that to the sports palaces of yesteryear, which turned the lights on only for home games and any concerts that happened to roll through town.
“Little Caesars Arena is a highlight of The District Detroit, a massive 50-block revitalization plan in the heart of the city featuring business, park, restaurant, bar and event destinations, and which is ‘fundamentally different than any other venue,’ Mr. Gedney says.
“’I can’t stress enough how it’s really a much different paradigm in how the huge volumes of the concourses and lobbies can be leveraged for something more than just the [sports or entertainment] event.’
“Edmonton’s Rogers Place arena (above) and ICE District development is another example of how these new sport-anchored districts are designed ‘to find bigger, bolder ways to make these buildings do more for the owner and the community,’ Mr. Gedney adds.”