How to design a sports complex?

Author: Marina

Mar. 07, 2024



Tags: Construction & Real Estate

Last Updated on April 14, 2023 by UDC Sports

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

– Wayne Gretzky

These wise words from “The Great One” himself serve as a reminder that we must always be forward-thinking, anticipating what is coming and preparing accordingly.

This philosophy transcends the realm of hockey—it’s often echoed in the world of business and innovation, where leaders with the strongest drive and the keenest instincts tend to achieve the most success. Its broad applicability is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that even Steve Jobs, a titan of industry, was quoted as using Gretzky’s quote. (The irony of one visionary being quoted for repeating another’s quote arguably adds to the appeal.)

While the quote may come from a famous hockey player, its message resonates with sports enthusiasts of all stripes; whether they’re fans of football, soccer, baseball, or any other sport. The point is, just as a great hockey player reads the game, the construction of a successful sports facility requires foresight, expertise, and passion.

This article will guide you through some of the essential steps of sports facility construction, offering valuable insights and advice to help you bring your vision for building a field, stadium, or mixed-purpose facility to life.

Note: It’s important to note that every sports construction project is unique, and not all aspects discussed in this guide may apply to your specific situation. This article serves as a general overview, but with any large-scale project, it’s important to consult directly with sports facility design/construction professionals and conduct thorough research to ensure the success of your project.

Key Steps for Successful Sports Facility Construction & Project Management

I. Understanding the Facility’s Purpose & Objectives

Before diving into the finer details of constructing an athletic field, stadium, or any other sports facility, it’s absolutely crucial to establish the purpose and objectives of the facility:

  • What sports or activities will be hosted?
  • Will it cater to grade school athletes, college athletes, professional athletes, amateurs, or a combination of the above?
  • What are the anticipated attendance figures and revenue projections?

The answers to these questions will help to lay the foundation for your project (metaphorically, at least), ensuring that the facility is tailored to the needs of its users and is financially viable.

II. Site Selection & Evaluation

Once the purpose and objectives are clear, the next step is finding the right location for the facility. The site should be easily accessible and provide ample space for parking and future expansion.

Furthermore, it is essential to evaluate factors such as environmental impact, zoning laws, and proximity to other facilities. These considerations will help determine the feasibility of the project and influence the overall design and layout of the facility.

III. Designing the Sports Facility

Designing a sports facility is an intricate process that balances form and function. The facility should be visually appealing, but also practical and functional, ensuring that the needs of all athletes, spectators, and staff can be met.

Key factors to consider during the design process include, but are not limited to:

  1. Flexibility: The facility should be versatile and adaptable to accommodate various sports and events. This will ensure that the facility remains relevant and continues to attract users over time.
  2. Sustainability: Green design features, such as energy-efficient lighting, water-saving measures like artificial turf, and eco-friendly construction materials, may be incorporated into the facility. This not only benefits the environment but also saves on operational costs in the long run.
  3. Safety & Accessibility: A well-designed sports facility prioritizes safety and accessibility for all users. This includes incorporating features such as ramps, elevators, and wider doorways for individuals with disabilities.

Note: There are a multitude of variables at play when designing a sports facility—and each sport brings its own unique set of requirements and considerations. Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge that providing an all-encompassing guide for every sport is beyond the scope of this article. Delving into the specifics of each sport would require its own comprehensive guide to truly capture the nuances and intricacies involved in crafting a facility that caters to the distinct needs of the athletes, spectators, and staff involved in that particular sport.

For more information, please refer to the following resources:

IV. Hiring a Specialized Sports Construction Firm for the Project

Constructing a sports facility requires the expertise of professionals who specialize in this field. From architects to engineers and construction managers, a strong team will ensure that the project is executed seamlessly and to the highest quality. Look for professionals with a proven track record in sports facility construction, who share your passion and enthusiasm for the project.

A company that exemplifies this level of expertise is UDC Sports, a full-service sports construction firm. UDC Sports specializes in full-service construction, design, consulting, and project management for constructing athletic fields, stadiums, and other sports facilities.

V. Securing Funding & Managing Costs

It’s probably not news to you that a sports facility can be a significant financial undertaking. Securing funding, managing budgets, and controlling costs are critical aspects of the construction process. Possible funding sources include private investments, government grants, and community partnerships.

Throughout the project, it’s essential to closely monitor costs, maintain open communication with stakeholders, and make informed decisions to encourage the financial success of your facility.

VI. Ongoing Facility Management & Maintenance

Once the facility is complete, it’s essential to establish a management and maintenance plan. This can include hiring a skilled operations team, implementing regular maintenance schedules, and/or promoting the facility to attract users and generate revenue (if applicable).

Ongoing management and maintenance can involve a wide range of activities, including but not limited to:

  • Irrigation & turf management: For outdoor sports facilities, irrigation and turf management are essential for maintaining a safe and high-quality playing surface. For grass fields, this involves ensuring that the irrigation system is functioning properly, monitoring soil moisture levels, and addressing issues with sports field surfaces such as soil compaction, weed growth, and pest infestations.
  • Cleaning & sanitation: Keeping the facility clean and hygienic is crucial for preventing the spread of germs and ensuring a safe and healthy environment for users. This may involve regular cleaning of restrooms, locker rooms, and common areas, as well as disinfecting equipment and surfaces.
  • Equipment maintenance: Regular maintenance of equipment is essential for ensuring its longevity and performance. Depending on the size, type, and complexity of your sports facility, this could include anything from maintaining sports and landscaping equipment to lighting systems and HVAC.
  • Safety inspections: Conducting regular safety inspections can help to identify potential hazards or issues that could pose a risk to users. This may involve inspecting playing surfaces, bleachers and seating areas, lighting systems, and emergency exits.

Ensuring that your sports facility remains a valuable community asset will require ongoing commitment and dedication. Developing a comprehensive management plan that includes the activities discussed above can help achieve this goal.

VII. Engaging the Community

Involving the community is an integral part of building and maintaining a successful sports facility. By engaging local residents and organizations, you can foster a sense of ownership and pride in your facility.

Collaborate with local schools, sports clubs, and community groups to offer programs, events, and activities that cater to various age groups and interests. Reaching out will help your facility become—and stay—a vibrant, well-utilized, and cherished resource for your community.

VIII. Preparing for Emergencies & Adversities

As with any large-scale project, unexpected challenges, natural disasters, and emergencies may arise during the construction and operation of a sports facility. Establishing contingency plans and emergency response protocols is essential to effectively manage any issues that may occur.

This may include things like:

  • Coordinating with local emergency services
  • Developing evacuation plans
  • Training facility staff in first aid and crisis management
  • Having plans in place to deal with extreme weather events
  • Mitigating security incidents through the use of surveillance cameras, access control systems, and security personnel
  • Planning for equipment failures and having plans in place to repair/replace equipment quickly
  • Establishing clear communication protocols to ensure facility staff are informed and able to respond quickly

Being prepared for the unexpected will ensure that your sports facility is equipped to handle any situation that may arise, and ultimately contribute to its long-term success.

IX. Staying Updated with Industry Trends & Innovations

Sports facility construction is always evolving, and it’s hard not to notice how modern and cutting-edge new stadiums are looking these days. There are new technologies, materials, and sports field design trends emerging regularly.

To keep your facility at the forefront of the industry, aim to keep abreast of the latest developments and incorporate new ideas, innovations, and upgrades into your facility’s design and operations. Other activities that can be beneficial for your facility are:

  • Evaluating user feedback: Surveys and focus groups can help you understand what users want and need from your facility (as well as where improvements can be made).
  • Conducting market research: Analyzing data on consumer preferences, studying the competition, and researching industry publications.
  • Investing in ongoing education and training: This can help you and your staff stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments and best practices.

Attending industry conferences, participating in professional networks, and collaborating with other sports facility professionals are also great ways to keep your finger on the pulse and spark inspiration.

X. Evaluating Success & Planning for the Future

Finally, it’s essential to periodically evaluate the success of your sports facility by assessing its performance against the initial objectives and goals. This might involve gathering data on user satisfaction, revenue generation, and community impact, among other factors.

By conducting regular evaluations, you can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for future growth and enhancement.

The building of any sports field or facility, regardless of its type, is a complex, time-consuming process that demands not only highly-specialized expertise in sports construction, but also a strong passion and vision for the future. It involves a range of activities, such as site selection, design, construction, and facility management, among others. Apart from the more technical aspects, the creation of a sports facility requires careful planning, creativity, and foresight.

Note: Managing a project with so many moving parts can be overwhelming and time-consuming.We highly recommend consulting a professional firm like UDC Sports that specializes in managing all aspects of sports construction projects. Such a firm can guide you through every step of the process, from initial planning to final completion, ensuring that your facility meets all the necessary standards, regulations, and requirements.

If you would like to build a sports facility of any size or type, consider partnering with UDC Sports to help make your vision a reality.


Even if you’re not a Gretzky fan (or a hockey fan, for that matter) the wisdom of the quote at the beginning of this guide holds true: always think ahead and plan for where the puck is going to be. Leverage the expertise and forward-thinking approach of UDC Sports—an experienced, full-service sports construction, design, consulting, and project management firm—to make your vision for a sports facility into a reality.

By following the guidelines laid out above, you or your organization will be well on your way to realizing your dream of creating a state-of-the-art sports facility that meets the needs of athletes, spectators, and your community at large.

Score Big with the Right Team

Ready to bring your vision to life? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact UDC Sports today to discuss your project—and take the first step toward constructing the sports facility of your dreams.

Here in Minnesota, we have a lot of impressive professional sports stadiums. U.S. Bank Stadium, Allianz Field, and Target Center all attract thousands of fans each year. Not to mention all of the sporting complexes for high schools, colleges, and community centers across the state!

There are many reasons someone might be interested in building a sports complex. Maybe a local high school needs a new gymnasium, or the interest in a particular regional team is growing. Whether you’re looking to make a profit, enrich your community, or both, as yourself these 8 questions before you move forward with building a sports facility.

1) One Sport or Multiple? ⚽🏀⚾

The first thing you should consider when building a sports complex is how many sports it will accommodate. For example, are you intending to build an indoor complex only with volleyball courts? Or do you have a vision for a much larger complex with multiple fields, courts, and swimming lanes?

Deciding on this factor will inform many of your remaining decisions about:

  • Where to build the complex
  • Budgeting needs
  • Design specifications

2) Which Turf Material Will You Use? 🌱

If you’re building a sports facility for football, soccer, baseball, or lacrosse, you’ll need to consider if you want to use natural grass or artificial turf.

  • Artificial Turf: Turf is most common for indoor sports complexes, but it’s still an option for outdoor stadiums. There are a few materials you can choose from, with “field turf” being the most popular.
  • Natural Grass: Many athletes prefer playing on natural grass as it’s softer than turf. It’s most commonly used for outdoor complexes; however, it comes with more maintenance needs than artificial turf.

✅Pros of Artificial Turf

  • Field turf doesn’t require mowing
  • Irrigation systems can handle draining easily
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Much less water usage since turf doesn’t need to be watered

❌Cons of Artificial Turf

  • Turf can get hot and make the playing area feel hotter
  • Some bacteria can live on turf for 90+ days
  • Not as soft as real grass, so many players don’t enjoy playing on turf

✅Pros of Natural Grass

  • Soft surface that’s safer for athlete’s joints
  • Most athletes grow up playing on natural grass, so it feels the most comfortable
  • Can use natural resources already in place if constructing an outdoor playing field

❌Cons of Natural Grass

  • Gets muddy and slick in the rain
  • Requires consistent maintenance (watering, mowing, etc.)
  • Requires an irrigation system to prevent flooding or to keep the soil from drying out

3) Are You Fundraising or Creating a Budget? 💸

In order to build a sports facility of any size, you’ll need money. Take time to flesh out the details of how you’ll obtain the necessary funds.

Will you fundraise in your community? Take out a business loan? Or seek funds from investors?

Be sure you have a crystal clear idea of the type of complex you’re going to build, any amenities included, and the contracting team you’ll partner with before you start fundraising.

The best way to know how much the project will cost is to work directly with a general contractor, which brings us to our next point…

4) Which Contractor Will You Work With? 👷

It’s vital to work with an experienced commercial contractor when building an indoor sports complex. Think about it: a contractor that primarily builds houses will be quite different than a contractor who is comfortable with a large-scale construction project.

Choosing the right contractor can make or break the success of your project, as a shoddy team can cause you to go over budget and miss deadlines.

Vet general contractors by reading online reviews, noting how well they communicate, and asking about similar projects they’ve worked on in the past. Don’t be afraid to look outside your city or state if you’re coming up short.

5) Are You Familiar With Local Codes & Regulations? 📋

Each municipality has different codes and regulations that you must follow when building a sports facility. Thankfully, a reputable contractor will handle obtaining the necessary permits and following regulations.

You’ll need to present your plans to the local municipality and meet with their zoning department for approval before you can move forward.

6) What Lighting Will You Incorporate? 💡

Whether you’re building an outdoor or indoor sports facility, be sure to work with your architect or design-build contractor on the lighting.

Installing effective floodlights in an outdoor complex will allow you to schedule games at night and make more money out of your investment. Indoor facilities need lighting whenever the building is in use. Consider using LED lights to reduce your energy bills in the long run.

7) Is a Parking Lot in the Picture? 🚗

Many people forget to consider parking lots in their project plans. It may seem fine to have guests park down the street, but the lack of a parking lot can actually be a major deterrent for spectators.

Plan to incorporate a parking lot right next to your complex or as nearby as possible. Be sure to build one with enough parking spaces to accommodate the average number of fans anticipated at each sporting event.

8) How Will You Accommodate Severe Weather? ⛈️

If you’re planning to build an entirely indoor sports complex, you don’t have to worry about severe weather as much as with an outdoor complex.

For outdoor sports, lightning is a common and dangerous weather condition. Be sure to install a lightning detection system and lightning horn when building an outdoor or open-air field.

Consider also incorporating shade structures for outdoor and open-air stadiums. Shade structures allow players and spectators alike to stay cool during extreme heat.

Work With APX to Bring Your Sports Complex to Life

Arguably the most important consideration on this list is choosing a reputable commercial contractor. A skilled and experienced general contractor will be able to guide you through the necessary steps and helpful tips for building a sports facility.

Whether you’re looking to build a stadium that seats 60,000 spectators or a new basketball court for a local school, reach out to APX Construction Group. Our general contracting and design-build services have executed hundreds of incredible commercial buildings across Minnesota and beyond. Call us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you build your dream sports complex!


Can you make money owning a sports complex?

Yes, it is possible to make money owning a sports complex. The total profit you can make depends on factors such as the size of the complex, its location, services offered, and the number of customers that use the facility. Another way to generate additional revenue is through sponsorships and events held at the complex.

What does a sports complex include?

A sports complex typically includes a range of facilities such as playing fields, courts, tracks, and pools. Some facilities offer amenities such as locker rooms, meeting rooms, food service areas, and retail spaces. Depending on the type of complex, it may also include additional features such as climbing walls and zip lines.

What are some possible constraints of building a new sports arena?

Some possible constraints of building a new sports arena include the cost of construction, the size of the arena, the environmental impact of the project, local zoning regulations, and neighborhood opposition to the project. Other big factors to consider are the amount of available space and access to funding.

How to design a sports complex?

8 Things To Consider Before Building A Sports Complex


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