Video: The building game

By Mike Hegedus Special Features Correspondent
CNBC
updated 2/8/2006 2:30:04 PM ET 2006-02-08T19:30:04

It’s one of the biggest names in all of sports worldwide, and if you’ve been to a college or professional sporting event in the last 25 years, chances are HOK designed the building.

Twenty-five years ago, 13 young Kansas City architects thought there might be a business in sport stadium and arena design, and it turns out there was. Some 800 projects valued at over $12 billion later, HOK has designed 24 major league baseball parks, 70 minor league parks and been involved in 80 football projects. It now has 400 employees in five offices around the world.

“When I first got into this business 20 years ago, somebody said, ‘Why are you going into that? That’s not architecture,’” said Brad Clark, HOK’s senior project designer.

They were wrong, of course, at least on the fiscal level.

More public and private money is spent on sports and multi-purpose facilities than on any other kind of building. And they are used not only to house teams, but also to build the images of franchises, universities and entire cities and regions.

The fastest growing side of HOK’s business is collegiate — aging facilities need facelifts, and increased revenues.

“The collegiate trend in the last 10 years has been to try and jump on the bandwagon with pro football teams and do the same type of things seen in their stadiums — the revenue generating components,” said Nathan Appleman, an architect at HOK Sport.

In Europe, the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament is a driver of the new stadium trend, and it’s growing quickly. When it comes to designing a soccer stadium, there is always that moat component notes HOK’s Sport Project Designer Greg Sherlock.

“You really have to get into the minds, or the shoes of the spectators there, because they’re so emphatic about the sport, and they get violent at times,” he said.

There’s no moat at the new HOK designed stadium outside Phoenix, Ariz. But it does have one of the most unique fields ever built ... on tracks. It’s a honest to goodness natural grass field that spends its weekdays outside growing, and on game day it’s wheeled into place, striped and used for the game. Post-game, the field slides out again and the grass happily grows and is green all year.

© 2012 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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