Sports Facilities: Every Town Wants Their Field of Dreams | Part 1 of 2
Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
PC Sports currently serves as Construction Manager Agent on the $48 million dollar demolition of an existing facility and new construction of the Texas Tech University Sports Performance Center. The center will consist of a competition level indoor track including field event areas, approximately 750 spectator seats with the possibility to expand for major conference meets.
Posted: 2-1-2017, 7:17 p.m.
by Edmond Ortiz
PC Sports, now under contract to build a $500 million arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, has been involved in many of professional sports facilities in America. These include FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Smoothie King Center, home of the New Orleans Pelicans.
The San Antonio-based company has carved a niche for itself by designing and managing construction of NBA caliber gyms, but PC Sports doesn’t overlook the rest of the sports facilities market.
"I wouldn't say we're focused on one area. We touch upon all types of projects," said PC Sports President Paula Portz.
One of the construction industry's biggest trends is the demand for new athletic buildings from educational institutions, ranging from grade-level schools to universities and colleges, Portz said. There has also been a rise in the demand for multi-functional venues.
Schools can better benefit from having buildings that accommodate a number of activities, from athletics to entertainment to trade shows and community gatherings.
"It's important for a facility to be multi-purpose, especially at an educational institution, where events happen all the time," Portz said. "You don't want a facility to have 'dark days'," she added, referring to a period of inactivity.
She is also seeing an increasing number of municipalities spending money to build new or renovate existing facilities to bring in concerts, trade shows and the like. Technology advances have been a major factor in the desire for renovation. More and more clients want to ensure visitors have reliable WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and WiFi access in their venues, Portz said.
"Patrons often bring in four or five devices to stay connected," she said, adding that PC Sports aims to help clients build their facilities for the long term. PC Sports is seeing a high demand for high-tech accessible venues, even at the high school level.
"Technology is something we have to accommodate. We want to make sure buildings aren't just built for today or for 10 years, but for 25 years to 50 years," Portz explained. "Sometimes, it's hard to tell what's coming next."
Youth Sports Grow Up
George Block, a San Antonio-based swim coach so well regarded a school district named a natatorium after him, knows the value of investing in local sports facilities.
For Block, it isn’t about massive complexes for pro teams and their big price tags. The former Northside ISD San Antonio coach believes in the versatility of a facility.
That flexibility allows a community to use a facility such as Northside Swim Center for recreational swimming and exercise one day and have it host swim and diving championships the next. The entire U.S. Olympic swim team—coaches and staff, included—practiced there before heading to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
“There’s really a sweet spot in investing in sports,” said Block, now a board member with San Antonio Sports. “Sports is good for health and for business.
That is the case, regardless of the community’s size. Edinburg, a Rio Grande Valley town with a population just over 81,000, collaborated through a private-public partnership to build Bert Ogden Arena. At almost $90 million, the 189,000-square-foot arena broke ground in 2015 and is nearing completion. Designed to host concerts and sporting events, the arena will host the University of Texas-RGV’s Vaqueros basketball team’s home opener in November and it will be home court for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a National Basketball Association D-League team.
Canyon, Texas, population 13,303, is near Amarillo and home to West Texas A&M University (VBX Project ID 2016-20E0). The student body, by referendum, voted for a new multi-purpose stadium in March 2016. In response, the Texas A&M System has begun the process of putting the project into its capital improvement plans.
Whenever a community comes together to build an athletic facility, Block said, it demonstrates that community’s seriousness about economic development. These facilities bring neighbors together, inspire healthy living, build civic pride and represent the community’s dedication to place and to building for the future.
Block said more people appreciate the increasing number of fitness options.
“Fit communities tend to attract people who are educated. Those communities become affluent communities,” Block said.
Bartlett Cocke General Contractors built Northside ISD’s second swim center. Construction on the 16,500-square-foot facility took 17 months and it was finished in 2013 for $19.4 million. Bexar County helped the district with financing.
Tim Martin, project manager for Bartlett Cocke, said despite some public opposition early in the design phase, the community’s response to the swim center has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
The Swim Center/Natatorium features a state-of-the-art outdoor digital LED video board, sound and competition timing system with broadcast cable and camera capabilities for live television feeds. It has a 50-meter stainless steel competition Myrtha Pool; made in Italy, these pools are leaders in competition pools.
Martin said that for competitive student swimmers, the new natatorium provides more swim space, not to mention more opportunities for the school district. It also provides more services to the public.
“The Northside Swim Center schedule allows the district’s taxpayers to access the facility during certain periods of the day,” Martin added.
A Home of Their Own
Texas Lutheran University was founded in 1891, five years before American style football started appearing on collegiate campuses. But until recently, TLU athletes have had to play at Seguin High School’s Matador Stadium.
Bartlett Cocke partnered with The Koehler Company. to build a new outdoor athletics complex for Texas Lutheran. Across a 12-month schedule that ended in 2014, they erected the $6.2 million facility.
A 2013 promotional poster announcing the new athletics facilities that were built by Bartlett Cocke and Koehler Co.
The new TLU complex includes an artificial turf football field and 400-meter NCAA-compliant track and field facility with scoreboard, stadium lighting, press box and temporary bleacher seating for 500.
The football field one link in a unified complex that includes baseball and softball. The softball facility includes a 300-seat, synthetic surface softball stadium, as well as a 2,000-square-foot concession/ticket/bathroom facility and entry plaza.
“Overall the response from Texas Lutheran University and their alumni, as well as the Seguin community was very good,” said Steve Koehler Sr., senior vice president of the Koehler Co.
“By bringing football games back to the TLU campus, they are creating a more collegiate environment, as well as inviting alumni and the community back to the campus.”
Other institutions of higher learning are investing in their athletic facilities to the advantage of the university and the community.
The West Texas A&M stadium project mentioned earlier began with students successfully spearheaded a referendum in spring 2016. Students supported the creation of a fee to fund stadium construction, which would involve a reconfiguration of existing soccer and track fields inside the school’s massive Buffalo Sports Park.
The total estimated budget is $30 million. Athletic Director Michael McBroom said he expects the A&M System Board of Regents to authorize a Request for Proposals for an architect/engineer in the next month or two.
The new stadium will replace the 20,000-seat Kimbrough Stadium, which opened in 1959 two miles off campus. The replacement have less capacity at 10,000 to 12,000 seats, but it will be more accessible by being on campus. And it will open the university to an array of economic and community partnership opportunities.
“After experiencing a homecoming parade on campus in 2015, student government floated the idea of building an on-campus stadium, in order to have the type of energy and excitement that comes with having 12,000 people on campus on a Saturday,” McBroom said.
“Kimbrough is an antiquated, non-ADA compliant stadium. This is simply not up to the standards that today’s fan is accustomed to, such as modern restrooms and concession stands that are convenient and accessible, bright lights, quality sound, high definition video screens and the ability to utilize mobile devices.”
McBroom added that a number of new student employment opportunities will be created with the new stadium in game management, video operations, broadcasting, concessions, tickets, parking and security.
The new stadium also will be designed to accommodate other events, including high school football games, commencement, concerts, fireworks shows, and other large community and campus activities.
Most of the Canyon area community supports the stadium plan, McBroom said. Some residents and alumni have expressed caution, but the benefits of having an on-campus stadium outweighs the cons, he added.
“This, coupled with the very real fact that renovating and updating Kimbrough will be much more expensive than constructing an on-campus stadium make the decision to support the student’s dream pretty easy,” McBroom said.
VBX-Listed Sports Facility Project: Project ID 2015-1BB5 - University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa TX: RFQ for Architectural & Engineering Services for Kinesiology and Athletic Building. Design and construction of a new 43,000 gross square foot building to house the Kinesiology Deptartment's classrooms, Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology labs, faculty offices and storage areas for Kinesiology and Athletic Training Majors. It will include a weight room and a strength and conditioning center, locker rooms and laundry facilities. Total project estimated project cost: $16.2 million.
Adolfo Pesquera is a veteran news journalist. He has previously worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. He is a communications graduate of the University of Texas-PanAmerican.
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