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15 December 2015

HOK and United Soccer League Partnership Features New Stadium Guidelines

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta United FC

HOK’s Chris DeVolder and United Soccer League (USL) President Jake Edwards share the desire for the design and construction of soccer-specific stadiums to serve as a “tent-post for the city” and catalyst for surrounding development.

“‘It’s not a new idea,’ [Chris DeVolder, sustainable design leader of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice,] said at the USL Winter Summit this week. ‘It’s really just how do we reimagine that for the 21st century, and we absolutely have a lot of experience in working on those projects. … Because of where [these developments] are in the core, there’s transportation upgrades, there’s housing, there’s retail, and it’s all being done at a level of high efficiency when you start to think about sustainability, and developing density in the core downtown. These projects really are a catalyst for the rest of the development.’

The USL announced its partnership with HOK in May this year, with the goal of placing all of the league’s current and future clubs in soccer-specific stadiums by the end of the year.”

“‘This is an ambitious project, and we have to bring in and work with the very best partners,’ USL President Jake Edwards said. ‘People that really appreciate what we’re trying to do here across the United States and Canada appreciate the size of the goals that we’ve got – which are big – and are going to be great partners in addition to bringing their world-class expertise.

“‘HOK are as good as they come. Their sports division, these are world-class guys who are building some of the best stadiums not just in North America, but across the world, so they bring an expertise and an enthusiasm to this project that you couldn’t match. It was a no-brainer to work with these guys, and they’re very committed to us and this project.’

“DeVolder and his team at HOK are currently in the process of devising new guidelines for USL stadiums moving forward, including incorporating new technology and the requirements for the league’s new broadcast initiative. The company is also creating a prototype 10,000-seat USL stadium, which would be scalable for those clubs that wished to utilize it. “

“‘It’s critical that the stadium becomes a catalyst of regenerations and rejuvenation in certain parts of a city that might need it,’ Edwards said. ‘We’ve seen that across the board, both in minor league baseball and in soccer, how a stadium can transform part of an urban core that needs it, and will lead to all that other development of infrastructure, and so it’s critical that that team has a permanent home, a visible home in that community.