Despite the tens of thousands of spectators who fill stadium stands per event to watch their beloved teams live, two-thirds of fans would prefer watching a game from home than in person, found a 2015 study by Mintel. Furthermore, according to Detroit-based architecture firm Rossetti Inc., a study of college students found that 43 percent of respondents said better seats would entice them to attend another game, 22 percent don’t even watch the game when they go, and 13 percent said interactive mobile experiences would improve their likelihood of going to a game.
The approximately 100-person firm, which specializes in stadium and arena design, wants to upend the stigma of the “nosebleeds” seats and invigorate the stadium experience to attract more millennials and fans to live events with its Inverted Bowl design, which it debuted earlier this month.
It took Rossetti Inc. president Matt Rossetti and his team seven years of research, development, and feasibility studies to formulate the Inverted Bowl. Instead of tiered rows of seating sloping progressively farther and higher away from the playing field, forming a concave curve in section, Rossetti nudges the upper decks progressively forward so that audiences in the nosebleeds begin to cantilever over the lower concourses—similar to the near-vertical stacking of some theater designs, but made more extreme. The subsequent inverted bowl shape also breaks up the upper concourses to comprise just two to three rows of seating each, resulting in “broadcast quality views” at the top, according to the firm’s website.
The balance of the concourse floor plates, facing away from the playing field, then become projected balconies that aim to invite the audience to get out of their seats, mingle, share their experiences on social media, and then see their posts become part of the stadium backdrop.
With only a few rows per concourse, this arena type is suited for venues in urban environments, where the building footprint is tight. The optimal capacity of the Inverted Bowl design is currently between 16,500 and 19,000 seats, about the size of a smaller professional basketball or hockey arena, such as the Houston Toyota Center, in Texas. (NFL stadiums can typically hold between 50,000 to 100,000 people.)
Rossetti Inc. claims that Inverted Bowl concept, as compared to a conventional arena design of the same capacity, would result in a building footprint that is 18 percent smaller; a shorter roof span that reduces steel tonnage by 47 percent; and an overall 36-percent smaller volume of enclosed space to heat and cool. Considering stadium construction and maintenance easily runs into the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars, any savings percentage translates to substantial money.
As the firm behind the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York and Ford Field in Detroit, Rossetti Inc. also makes a business case for the inverted bowl in its 2017 self-published e-book, The Arena Revolution. Conventionally, nosebleed seats experience lower concession sales due to fewer amenities as well as lackluster audience engagement—while costing more to construct. By positioning the upper seating tiers literally on top of the action, bringing spectators 50 percent closer to the field, and turning the upper bowl into more of a socializing space, Rossetti Inc. believes that “the worst seats in the house become the best.” In fact, the company predicts that the Inverted Bowl configuration will increase arena revenue by 20 to 30 percent. The firm is currently working with several confidential clients on the Inverted Bowl concept.
“This is going to be far more engaging for the audience, and more electrifying for the players,” Rossetti says in the firm’s promotional video for the Inverted Bowl. “We have created the entertainment experience of the future.”