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BringBackTheVet

Lifespan of new-age arenas

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http://www.philly.com/philly/business/comcast/comcast-spectacor-wells-fargo-center-sixers-flyers-fans-suites-fans-20180305.html

 

This startled me - the Flyers decided they needed a new arena, despite the Wells Fargo Center "only" being 22-years old, and having already had 10s if not 100s of millions in upgrades over the years.  Maybe 22 years is old, but I remember it opening as a modern state-of-the-art arena like it was yesterday.

 

Fortunately, rather than build a new one (according to the article, around $750M) they're putting $250 into the existing one and knocking down all the walls that they can and sorta rebuilding it from the inside out.  Again, this baffles me, because other than the obvious need of new premium seating revenue streams like the court-ice level clubs, it's a really nice arena that already has huge social gathering areas.

 

What's the expected lifespan of these "new age" arenas now anyway?

 

By "new age", I'm considering the following parameters:

Baseball - built either during the neo-retro (post Camden Yards) era and designed to be a feature-laden long-lasting park (i.e. New Comisky wouldn't count as "new-age") OR the retractable dome era, a-la Safeco, Enron, etc.

 

Hockey/Basketball - Basically anything built from the mid/late 90s on that was explicitly designed to be SoTA at the time, i.e. not a low-budget "we just need something" arena.

 

Football: built after the new Browns stadium opened, which ushered in the replacement of all the cookie-cutters, and a return to the football-specific stadiums.  Also must have been designed to have been SoTA at the time.  Also the new-age retractable stadiums and new-age covered fields like Glendale, Minneapolis, Houston, etc.

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The Sabres' arena opened in 1996, as well. There hasn't even been a whisper of a new arena, but the team has started to let everyone know that there needs to be a big renovation coming up, though. I don't think there's been a significant renovation here yet, though. I feel like everything has held up well design-wise, but apparently there's things like bathrooms that don't have hot water anymore.

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20 to 35 years seems to be it. The Palace of Auburn Hills, the gold standard for indoor arenas from the day it was built till the day it was vacated, only lasted 28 years. The Bradley Center is done at 30. The much-heralded Ballpark in Arlington won't make it to 30, and Turner Field only made it to 20. 

 

It's harder to say with football stadiums. Of the NFL stadiums built in the 1990s (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tampa, Denver, Philadelphia), I have a hard time seeing those being replaced any time soon; the space demands and low usage kinda forces them to be in for the long haul. Yes, the Edward Jones Dome only lasted 20 years, but then again that was a glorified ballroom, hardly a stadium, and that's why it's gone. I think most NFL stadiums are going to be Ships of Theseus like Lambeau and Dolphin Stadium where they're rebuilt and reimagined but never replaced. The Chiefs will probably play on the Arrowhead Stadium site forever.

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What’s driving the need to replace stadiums that legitimately had a lot of thought and money spent on them? Most of not all are still in very good physical shape, unlike the 70s donuts that were literally crumbling. The only thing I can think of is the need to reconfigure to get new premium revenue streams, like the Flyers said in that article. Wider concourses and better external views are nice and all, but let’s not pretend that’s the difference between someone going to a game or not. 

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Many of the arenas want sport-specific ownership as well. Why should only one team reap the benefits of the rent and concessions? In the case of TD Garden in Boston, I believe Bruins ownership gets the money from all concessions, as well as the rent from other events. It was never a city-owned building.

 

I look at cities like Miami and Charlotte. Both had new arenas built for their expansion teams in the late 80s, and both have had their tenants move to newer buildings (or cities, then back again), and have since been demolished.

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2 minutes ago, slapshot said:

Many of the arenas want sport-specific ownership as well. Why should only one team reap the benefits of the rent and concessions? In the case of TD Garden in Boston, I believe Bruins ownership gets the money from all concessions, as well as the rent from other events.

 

I believe the Celtics play rent-free but Jacobs still gets their parking/concession money.

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At this point, unless your stadium is a relic like Fenway, Wrigley, Arrowhead, it’s almost inevitably going to be replaced in the next 15-20 years. 

 

That does make me realize though, NBA/NHL arenas are always being replaced. What even is the oldest one still being used anyway? 

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17 minutes ago, slapshot said:

Many of the arenas want sport-specific ownership as well. Why should only one team reap the benefits of the rent and concessions? In the case of TD Garden in Boston, I believe Bruins ownership gets the money from all concessions, as well as the rent from other events. It was never a city-owned building.

 

I look at cities like Miami and Charlotte. Both had new arenas built for their expansion teams in the late 80s, and both have had their tenants move to newer buildings (or cities, then back again), and have since been demolished.

Orlando went through this pattern as well, although the Orena was quite literally falling apart (so the need for a new arena was actually there)

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23 minutes ago, BringBackTheVet said:

What’s driving the need to replace stadiums that legitimately had a lot of thought and money spent on them? Most of not all are still in very good physical shape, unlike the 70s donuts that were literally crumbling. The only thing I can think of is the need to reconfigure to get new premium revenue streams, like the Flyers said in that article. Wider concourses and better external views are nice and all, but let’s not pretend that’s the difference between someone going to a game or not. 

TV is the reason.

 

The arenas/stadiums built in the mid 90s-2001 we're built before HD and we'll before 4K TV.

 

Upper bowl seats in the corners aren't really able to be sold but for concerts.

 

That's why college football will have a continuing attendance problem. Bench seating don't work for folks now.

 

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28 minutes ago, slapshot said:

I look at cities like Miami and Charlotte. Both had new arenas built for their expansion teams in the late 80s, and both have had their tenants move to newer buildings (or cities, then back again), and have since been demolished.

Orlando Arena, like Miami Arena, opening a year prior, has the same architect, which was 15 years old in The Summit in Houston. They were 15+ year old arena from the ribbon cutting. Both of those designs were contracted before The Palace of Auburn Hills. My

 

Personally, The Palace is/was the best.

 

Charlotte was a building of itself as it had like five suites.

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37 minutes ago, ozzyman314 said:

At this point, unless your stadium is a relic like Fenway, Wrigley, Arrowhead, it’s almost inevitably going to be replaced in the next 15-20 years. 

 

That does make me realize though, NBA/NHL arenas are always being replaced. What even is the oldest one still being used anyway? 

 

Oracle Arena (1966) for the NBA, Madison Square Garden (1968) for the NHL. But Oracle only has one more season before the Warriors move to Chase Center.

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Oh yeah, forgot about MSG for some reason. 

But even that isn’t the original. 

 

Still, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. Despite it losing tenents recently because the rent is so ludicrously expensive.

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26 minutes ago, who do you think said:

 

Oracle Arena (1966) for the NBA, Madison Square Garden (1968) for the NHL. But Oracle only has one more season before the Warriors move to Chase Center.

Both are bull$hit dates..

In 1996, Oakland gutted now Oracle Arena.

MSG has ungerdone renovations for years.

 

 

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5 hours ago, slapshot said:

Many of the arenas want sport-specific ownership as well. Why should only one team reap the benefits of the rent and concessions? In the case of TD Garden in Boston, I believe Bruins ownership gets the money from all concessions, as well as the rent from other events. It was never a city-owned building.

 

I look at cities like Miami and Charlotte. Both had new arenas built for their expansion teams in the late 80s, and both have had their tenants move to newer buildings (or cities, then back again), and have since been demolished.

 

I'm not sure what the Sixers lease deal is, but the arena was 100% privately financed by the Flyers, and the Sixers are basically treated like... well, a tenant.  One that up until this year was fourth in the priority behind concerts, wrestling, and Disney on ice.  I don't see them building their own arena - they went down that path once, and realized that Camden NJ was the only option, and that wasn't a good one.

 

 

 

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So basically what I'm hearing is that none of the newer (and I'll keep stressing that I'm only talking about higher-end arenas) arenas / stadiums are being replaced because of structural need or obsolescence, with the following caveats:

 

1. arenas / stadiums that can't be renovated to take advantage of modern revenue streams like the field/court-level suites and other premium packages may need to be replaced by ones that can

 

2. some perfectly fine arenas may be demoed and replaced simply because a team wants to own its own, rather than lease, and won't (or can't) purchase it from the city whoever the owner is.

 

3. some arenas were built without the absolute best in sitelines and comforts, which in 2018 makes it hard to get someone off of their couch and away from their 75" HDTV to go to the arena.  Personally I think this one, while not without merit, is the least likely because history shows that when teams are good, people go regardless of if they're sitting behind a pole or SRO.

 

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5 hours ago, dfwabel said:

Orlando Arena, like Miami Arena, opening a year prior, has the same architect, which was 15 years old in The Summit in Houston. They were 15+ year old arena from the ribbon cutting. Both of those designs were contracted before The Palace of Auburn Hills. My

 

Personally, The Palace is/was the best.

 

Charlotte was a building of itself as it had like five suites.

 

It sounds like those wouldn't meet the criteria that I'm considering as "new-age", since they were made in the 80s and just "out of the box" arenas, rather than something designed to be among the state of the art of its time.

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5 hours ago, ozzyman314 said:

At this point, unless your stadium is a relic like Fenway, Wrigley, Arrowhead, it’s almost inevitably going to be replaced in the next 15-20 years. 

 

That does make me realize though, NBA/NHL arenas are always being replaced. What even is the oldest one still being used anyway? 

My understanding is that you shouldn’t count MSG (due to massive renovations), so it would be the Saddledome (1983). It’s so old, Gary Bettman meddles in Calgary city elections. After Calgary, it’s San Jose and Anaheim (1993).

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20 minutes ago, BringBackTheVet said:

So basically what I'm hearing is that none of the newer (and I'll keep stressing that I'm only talking about higher-end arenas) arenas / stadiums are being replaced because of structural need or obsolescence, with the following caveats:

 

1. arenas / stadiums that can't be renovated to take advantage of modern revenue streams like the field/court-level suites and other premium packages may need to be replaced by ones that can

 

2. some perfectly fine arenas may be demoed and replaced simply because a team wants to own its own, rather than lease, and won't (or can't) purchase it from the city whoever the owner is.

 

3. some arenas were built without the absolute best in sitelines and comforts, which in 2018 makes it hard to get someone off of their couch and away from their 75" HDTV to go to the arena.  Personally I think this one, while not without merit, is the least likely because history shows that when teams are good, people go regardless of if they're sitting behind a pole or SRO.

 

Well...

1- Philips Arena in Atlanta and MSG are being renovated as opposed to building new.

 

2- Outside of the Warriors, Clippers, Rams and Islanders(?), teams really aren't building these themselves. They still desire the municalpity(-ies) to build/pay for it but manage it.

 

In all, it's a square footage issue. They always want more.

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1 hour ago, BringBackTheVet said:

 

It sounds like those wouldn't meet the criteria that I'm considering as "new-age", since they were made in the 80s and just "out of the box" arenas, rather than something designed to be among the state of the art of its time.

Well, the Orena was labeled as "state of the art" when it was being built, so...

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The main reason that you're seeing a trend toward renovation rather than replacement is public money:  municipal leaders have finally grown some balls and told teams trying to hold them hostage for new facilities, "If you want a new arena?  Build it yourself.  If you can find someone else to build it for you?  Well, we'll miss you."

 

Municipalities can justify arena/stadium upgrades, at least to a certain point - the building already exists, and it's viewed at least to an extent as maintenance.  But new construction isn't going over well, for any sport, if large amounts of public financing are to be involved.  Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, Calgary, Oakland and other cities have told either existing or potential new teams that they'd be welcome - but not at the expense of building them new digs.  And Seattle's revamping of its arena and the almost immediate NHL interest in putting a franchise there if anything will reinforce that mindset for at least the next decade.

 

The lifespan of any arena, properly maintained and upgraded, could be 75 years.  An outdoor stadium could go 150, or perhaps indefinitely - hell, the Roman Coliseum is still standing.  The question is who is going to fit the bill for construction or renovation that is the chief determining factor though.

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