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Karen Maxwell looks into the soccer stadium’s ‘fan orientated’ design and how its LIVESTRONG partnership could hail a new standard for professional sports engaging with worthwhile causes

ship between the football club and the cancer-fighting charity. The leading edge design technologies embraced within its construction have gained it the reputa- tion as one of the most advanced sports stadiums in the US. Owned by five Kansas-based business-


men, the agreement between Sporting Club’s Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium Sporting Kansas City and Livestrong – the brand name of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, created in 1997 by the cancer survivor and champion cyclist – was sealed in March this year. Since the opening match in mid June this year, between Kan- sas City and the Chicago Fire, the link up has already brought the charity to regional national and international attention. And the owners believe that a unique emphasis on technology and fan experience within the stadium will also help to raise football’s profile too.

Ball in motion Emblazoned with the bright yellow Livestrong livery in recognition of the partnership, the stadium is the result of Sporting Club’s brief to Populous archi- tects, which was to design an American version of a European football stadium, with a capability for hosting multi events. “The owners wanted the stadium

design to capture the essence of the ‘beautiful game’ so we looked at what that meant to a built environment – by focusing on the players’ athleticism and masculinity and then translating this into a static environment,” says principal Pop- ulous architect Jeff Spear. The result is an exterior of repeating angular metal fins, which represent the

uilt at a cost of US$200m (£122.3m), Sporting Kansas City’s new Livestrong Sporting Park heralds a unique partner-

players’ athleticism and align across the length of the building façade to create an illusion of animated movement. The signature roof canopy derives its design from the floating arc of the ball as it’s kicked across the field.

Fan-orientated design Seating 18,467 for matches and 25,000 for concerts, this is Kansas City’s first proper home in the team’s 15-year his- tory. The polycarbonate-paneled roof canopy enhances the intimate ‘European’ spectator experience. Ascending from 65ft (20m) off the ground up to 95ft (29m) high, it cantilevers out a further 95ft and covers every seat in the bowl – allowing spectators to breathe life into the structure during home games. The fans were actually invited into

the development process from the very beginning. In April 2010, the Kansas City players invited them to sign the first piece of steel put into place; the construction could be followed via the team’s website and [season] ticket holders were invited to don hard hats and walk through the site during the building process. “Every corner of the bowl has been

designed to offer a different match expe- rience for the fans,” says Spear. “There’s the members stand; the Victory Suite; and the opposing team’s dedicated seat- ing area. The field club seats are just 19ft (5.8m) from the field of play. While the 35 suites with adjacent lounges and floor- to-ceiling patio doors offer the fans an indoor/outdoor experience and the chance to interact with players,” he explains. The 2,000 bleacher-seat members’

stand contains the heart and soul of the drum-banging soccer fanatics who turn up the tempo during games. Attached to this is a dedicated members’ club – an 8,000sq ft (743sq m) sports bar that’s

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open to members’ stand fans during Sporting Kansas City home games. “Membership of this club allows for a

lower priced ticket, a separate entrance to the stadium and access to the club on non-game days to watch English Premier League and European soccer matches,” Spear explains. The owners can’t allow a stadium

of this size to lie empty during the off season, so a retractable seating section has been designed to fit into the bowl’s south end. This reveals a stage that can be used for concerts. “The stage was de- signed to be hidden below a section of removable seats and is separate from the turf,” Spear explains. Regarding the field of play, the 75-

yard (68.5m) by 120-yard (110m) pitch has been sown with Kentuckey Bluegrass mix turf and the polycarbonate roof will allow 85 per cent of light to transmit through the panels to keep it in good condition. “A SubAir under-soil heating and cooling system has been installed to keep the turf at a constant tempera- ture,” Spear explains. Adding that the system can also “suck water from the turf after a particularly heavy downpour”.

Issue 3 2011 © cybertrek 2011

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