Pan Am stadium plan rollout soon
More comfort, cup holders, shorter lineups and a high tech environment
Expect Hamilton's new Pan Am stadium to provide greatly upgraded seating, vastly improved restrooms and food concessions, as well as some protection for fans from rain and sun and a signature look in design or theme.
But look, too, for advanced technology in terms of the scoreboard, ramped-up Wi-Fi, and perhaps interactive elements for fans. Those elements are all part of the forecast based on recent stadium development in North America.
We'll soon know for sure what the boiling stadium controversy of 2009 to 2011 has produced. Infrastructure Ontario is sticking to a vague “late this month” timing for naming the winning build/design/finance team.
But sources at City Hall and close to the Tiger-Cats say a grand public rollout of the stadium design is in the works for Oct. 12 at Ivor Wynne Stadium during half time of the Ticats game against the B.C. Lions.
Whenever, it's fair to ask if the Great Stadium Debate II will break out. Another riveting public dispute, though short-lived, could erupt if enough people don't like the design, the cost or the functionality of the estimated $150-million Pan Am facility. Remember, all but $9 million are public dollars, meaning just about everyone will pay for it one way or another, through the city's Future Fund and provincial and federal taxes.
And stadiums stand alone among public buildings for their lack of flexibility and limited use. A recent survey of major sports venues in North America found only one made economic sense. Los Angeles' Staples Center, run by entertainment giant AEG, recorded the most use. It was booked 250 days a year.
Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli, whose political patch includes the new Ivor Wynne, says the facility must engage the public in one form or another 365 days a year to make sense.
“Otherwise we're missing the boat,” he says. “We blew off two fields (old Ivor Wynne and Brian Timmis due to the new north-south field alignment) to get one (Pan Am). We lost one soccer field because of the stadium development. My cry is this — we need flexibility in this facility.”
Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop, who still has a few scars from the debate on stadium location, said the stadium development provides Hamilton with a “cost-effective” opportunity to provide a long legacy to the community.
“This is the new home of the Tiger-Cats, but it's also an opportunity to build a home for soccer in the future. And I know the city is spending a lot of time thinking through how it can serve the community there, to make it a positive departure point in terms of legacy.”
Maximizing use was one of the dilemmas facing the three competing design teams who joined with builders and financial partners to make the short list trying to win the stadium contract.
They competed for it along with Milton's velodrome, and the track and field facility at York University, in a bundled bid process.
That's over $200 million worth of work, which is why it has drawn some of the leading sports-facility designers in the world.
Folks in Minneapolis-St. Paul got to see some of their work recently when the five firms competing to design a $1-billion stadium for the Minnesota Vikings rolled out examples of previous work in a public forum.
Two of them were Populous and HKS Architects, who are part of design teams vying for the new Hamilton stadium.
Populous conceived London's Olympic stadium among its many high-profile facilities, while HKS designed Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
Populous is paired with Kasian Architecture in one bid group, HKS with ZAS Architects in another. The third design group includes Cannon Design, which also has Olympic experience including the award-winning 2010 Olympics' Richmond Oval. Faulkner Browns Architects of England, a leading velodrome designer, and Arup Associates were the other firms.
Bob Johnston, of Cannon, was an adviser to Hamilton's Commonwealth bids and the Pan Am stadium component in the early bid process; and Cannon advises the Canadian Football League on stadium matters.
The winning concept will be awarded by Infrastructure Ontario, the provincial agency overseeing 2015 Pan Am Games' venue construction.
So, what does $150 million get you these days in a stadium that seats 22,000 people for soccer and football?
Based on recent stadium construction and the needs of tenants like the Tiger-Cats, a pro soccer team and training academy as well as community uses, here's some basics:
• Minimum 19-inch-wide seats and up to 21 inches for regular seating with armrests and cup holders.
Club seating, an upgrade from regular seats, which include access to lounges with catered food and drink, to be 22 to 24 inches wide with padding. Suite seating would be a further upgrade depending on the client.
• Larger and perhaps double the number of restrooms with quick access from seating.
• More efficient concessions with easy access from seating.
• Sightlines and proximity to the field that come close to duplicating Ivor Wynne. With a minimum 70-yard width to accommodate Pan Am soccer versus 65 yards for football, Ticat fans will likely be further from the action at the new stadium, unless the design includes seating sections that can retract.
• Most modern stadiums feature fixed or suspended roof sections that spare many fans rain and protect them from the sun, while still letting light through.
• Large and modern dressing rooms for two pro football and two pro soccer teams, as well as smaller rooms for minor sports.
• Flexibility to add temporary seating for special events like the Grey Cup.
• Wi-Fi capability so 22,000 fans can use wireless devices to search game statistics as well as conduct personal business.
• As many as 32 camera positions for special TV events, as well as an in-house TV studio.
• Prime positions for suites likely means press, radio and TV boxes will be moved to the corners, away from the traditional 55-yard-line positions.
• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, waste diversion and recycling and efficient use of energy and water.
• A signature flourish in design or theme that says Hamilton, a demanding element in a city that is evolving.
• Community use in the form of space for health and wellness programs and space that complements future recreation development in the area surrounding the stadium.
Recent stadium development to look at when speculating on the new Ivor Wynne (the name will be determined by whoever the Ticats can sell naming rights to) include Winnipeg's new home for the Blue Bombers and two new college facilities in Texas.
The CFL's director of events and promotions, points to the stadium at University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, as a prototype for the league.
Curt Emerson, who has been compiling a blueprint for what the league needs in new stadia, called it “a model stadium, which would work well in our league with the technology they have put into it.”
The 30,000-seat Apogee Stadium, designed by HKS, is broadcast friendly and set up to help the school maximize game-day revenues.
It is also the centrepiece of an athletic campus that was awarded the platinum certification by Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED). It employs small wind turbines to offset its power use. Monitoring of the wind-power piece is part of the academic curriculum.
Infrastructure Ontario set out a LEED silver level of certification as the goal for the Hamilton stadium.
Apogee features 21 luxury suites, 750 club seats, banquet space and a team-spirit apparel store.
Winnipeg's $190-million, 33,000-seat facility on the University of Manitoba campus, meantime, boasts eight acres of roof to protect fans and a full-time restaurant.
Investor's Group Field has 28 restrooms (two 120 feet-by-30 feet), video scoreboards, 250 high definition TV throughout the stadium, and has a sunken bowl design with the field 25-feet below entrances.
The $163-million remake of Texas Christian University's 40,000-seat stadium in Fort Worth was conceived by HKS, and features southwest art deco touches in keeping with the campus, and weaves the history of the university and Fort Worth throughout the facility.
And to add perspective, consider the $60-million, 18,000-seat high school, yes high school, stadium in Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
It opened last month to serve the Allen Eagles, but it also has a training centre for wrestling and an indoor golf area.