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Is The Future of the Stadium No Stadium?

Is The Future of the Stadium No Stadium?

Texas giants: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones launched a scoreboard space race across the NFL with this massive screen.

Texas giants: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones launched a scoreboard space race across the NFL with this massive screen.

by TODD STOLARSKI | Nov. 29 2015

Bigger and better: That’s how we like our televisions and stadiums. The former is increasingly so realistic that the experience inside the latter now has to satisfy the  high-definition needs of the fans in attendance on game day. So the NFL experience isn’t just on the field anymore. It’s in your seat, on the Jumbotron, and at your fingertips.

So, enter Texas. Nobody loves football more, and as we all know, everything is bigger there. In 2009, Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, aka “America’s Team”, turned on the largest video screen ever (159-ft wide x 71-ft high) at his brand new HKS-designed stadium. Then, the Houston Texans went bigger, and shortly thereafter, Jacksonville beat Houston. As we noted here last month, the stadium scoreboard race is bordering on insane. Now, one veteran sports architect is boldly asking, Should we scrap our stadiums altogether?

“We keep falling over ourselves about what’s the next big board? What’s the next thing you’re going to put in stadiums?” said architect Dan Meis to Wired. His design firm, MEIS Architects, has offices in New York and Venice, CA, and he has designed two current NFL stadiums: the Bengals home in Cincinnati and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

“I think it’s coming back to the best stadium would be not to build it at all, or if there’s a way to do it in a temporary way, and save all that money on infrastructure” he told Wired

Read: Top 5 Sustainable NFL Stadiums

Georgia Dome: Quite empty here. Completely empty come 2017.

Georgia Dome: Quite empty here. Completely empty come 2017.

His largest concern? Funding. ROI & ROR? It’s pure economics. Stadiums today now start at $1 billion. Hosting eight home games a year, a few concerts here and there, and, if you’re incredibly fortunate, three playoff games. Let’s say 20 total events each year. With roughly $1 million revenue taken in for each event held, you can do the math (it’s not good). Meis added that he had hoped that sports architects today would look at a 30-year life span, but, increasingly, that’s not the case. The Atlanta Falcons are currently building Mercedes-Benz stadium scheduled to cost $1.4 billion and slated to open in 2017. Their current home, The Georgia Dome, opened in 1992, just 23 years ago. 

Welcome to the new NFL.
— Prof. John Vrooman, Dept. of Economics. Vanderbilt University

And because the fan experience now is of such high quality outside of the stadium, it’s becoming even more difficult for the NFL to lure fans into those increasingly high-tech, high-priced, trail-blazing buildings. The demographics behind the viewership is changing and how they take in the product is, as well.

Read: Virtual Valhalla Speeds New Vikings Stadium

Vanderbilt University Prof. John Vrooman, an expert on sports economics, said the costly venues now are merely just huge television studios.

“Two-thirds of NFL revenue is derived from media, and probably half of the TV or new digital media viewers are fantasy league players who could care less about the traditional NFL product derived from team production and the game-day stadium experience,” explained Vrooman. “Welcome to the new NFL.”

Read the full article here.


To contact the author, write to todd.stolarski@builtworlds.com, or follow him on Twitter @toddstolarski.

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