Public Gains: A stadium for the people

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Virginia Tech

The stadium, in its purest form, is a structure that holds tiered seating arrangements built for mass viewing of sports, competitions, and public events. However, over the years, it has become much more than that. The stadium provides the spiritual need of community, allowing individuals to connect to others by sharing common beliefs and goals. This allows the stadium to become a source of civic pride to the people it serves. This combination of purpose and pride makes the stadium one of the most important archetypes ever created. It is the physical representation of human connectivity, a city's symbolic soul; the modern day cathedral. A symbiotic relationship is formed between the stadium and the public.

In the modern era, viewing live sports has become big business. Taking advantage of the situation, team owners have designed stadiums to capitalize financially as much as possible. These newly designed stadiums, along with the rise of the automobile, have been moved from downtown to the suburbs, providing owners more space for seats, larger parking lots, and ultimately more revenue. These larger, disconnected stadiums have led to waning attendance, heavy pollution, and an overall lack of use. The once spiritual experience of the arena has now been watered down as the stadium has become a detractor of public good.

Sports leagues now run as unopposed monopolies, with each major league having approximately 30 teams. With supply low and demand high, private entities essentially blackmail the public into building and funding stadiums to attract highly coveted sports teams. Desperately desiring to call a team their own, the public agrees to the deal. The end result is that the public funds a major project that provides no socioeconomic benefit to anyone other than the teams owner. The once symbiotic relationship between the stadium and the city has become perverted.

Although public subsidies are now frowned upon due to the growing awareness of the damage they cause cities, the major sports leagues will always have a significant hold over the distribution of teams and demand will always remain high. Therefore, if the public continues to foot the bill, it is up to the architect to find a balance between both public and private benefits through design. We must create a stadium that functions as a revenue generating event venue, as well as a public serving entity that enriches the community around it and repair the once great harmony between the public and their stadium. My Thesis will look at designing a public soccer stadium in downtown Washington D.C. This is Public Gains: A Stadium for the People.

stadium, sports, public, Washington D.C., urban, flexibility, piezo, MLS