The pandemic has certainly been a challenging opponent for college athletics. Many conferences were forced to cancel their fall sports, leaving a lot of programs to figure out how to weather the financial storm caused by the loss of those seasons. We really haven’t seen this kind of sports “recession” since WWII, and some of the athletic programs around the country are really hurting right now.
Yet, it takes a lot to stifle the sports spirit around the country, and we’re already seeing some incredibly innovative solutions to our current challenges. Higher education makes up a core part of Hollis + Miller’s client portfolio, and the firm is proud to serve as the official architect of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). But those relationships aren’t a one-way street. When COVID hit, we wanted to help our higher education partners with issues surrounding their athletic facilities without adding to already strapped athletic budgets.
We began offering an Athletics Facility Analysis to schools around the country to help them prepare for fans to return in a safe and efficient manner. The analysis includes looking at capacity, circulation, amenities and fan experience, and the report allows colleges and universities to see what needs to be done to allow fans to safely return to watching their favorite collegiate teams in action.
The analysis begins with a visit to the school and a discussion with the athletic director and the facilities team to understand the current facilities situation. Our team spends four to five hours at the school, meeting with people and touring all the athletic stadiums and arenas. After analyzing the school’s unique facilities, we produce a report including information on how to best put COVID-19 mitigation measures into place at each facility.
Looking past the pandemic to the future
However, the value of the facilities assessment doesn’t stop there. Each analysis is then benchmarked against other schools’ facilities using objective metrics—everything from the number of toilets to the optimal seating capacity. This gives athletic directors a clear picture of how their programs stack up against other facilities at similar-sized schools, allowing them to identify areas needing improvement.
This could prove to be crucial, particularly with fundraising and especially this year: One survey reports 75% of ADs view donations as the most at-risk revenue stream for the current school year—even more in jeopardy than ticket sales.
In addition, aging facilities can be a tie-breaker in a recruit’s decision. A clear-cut assessment of how a school’s facilities rank against those at other schools can remove a reason for a recruit to say no to your school.
The assessment we offer also gives athletic directors a tool to plan for the future. Because the assessment focuses on measurable metrics, it’s an effective tool for making a case for new or improved facilities to a school’s administration, as well as giving donors a better picture of where money can be most useful.
A partner for college athletics
We know the road for college athletics will continue to be rocky as we all navigate through the pandemic. That’s why Hollis + Miller is conducting this Athletics Facility Assessment to help schools navigate today’s realities and plan for the future. We know our colleges and universities will bounce back from this challenging year, and we just want to help out however we can.
Whether your university simply needs help sorting through the best mitigation options for your facilities or you’re looking for a more in-depth look at your school’s athletic needs for the next decade, the Athletics Facility Analysis is a good place to start.
We love working with colleges and universities, and during this uncertain time, we want to help you bring fans safely back to the stadium and put your athletics program in a stronger position to grow when the hard times are over.
Matt Keys, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, is a client leader at Hollis + Miller Architects, an integrated architecture firm designing the future of learning environments, including higher education, public and private K-12. Share your thoughts on Facebook, LinkedIn or on Twitter @HollisandMiller.