Posts

Multipurpose Facilities (MPF’s)

Multipurpose Facilities (MPF’s) exist in many forms. As we consider the transformation of existing facilities into part-time athletic venues – ad hoc “field houses” – a plethora of sports can reasonably be considered. Indoor track and field, cheerleading, dance, and gymnastics, indoor soccer, baseball batting cages, tennis, and competition court activities (e.g. volleyball, basketball, and handball) should all be considered.

While each sport has its own unique requirements, there are 4 critical considerations shared by all:

1. Dimensions

  • Column Grid
  • Structural Height

2. Materials

  • Flooring

3. Lighting

  • Natural
  • Artificial

4. Amenities/Support

  • Restrooms/Locker Rooms
  • Food/Vending/Ticketing
  • Spectator Viewing
  • Parking

Multipurpose Facilities graphic

 

Dimensions

The structural grid, both layout and height, is the primary driver of sport appropriateness in existing facilities. Strictly governed court sizes, including overrun areas and required clearances, will likely determine both how many and what kind of courts can fit into any given building efficiently.

Material

Most purpose-built Multipurpose Facilities have multiple courts with a mix of both wood and synthetic floors. Wood floors are more preferred for sports like basketball and volleyball while synthetic floors are best for activities such as baseball, tennis, or even flag core. Soccer players, on the other hand, prefer natural grass, with turf as a distant second best. In an existing facility that will be a “sometimes” sporting venue, the selected sport will determine the surface. Whatever surface(s) is(are) selected, each appropriate surface needs to be easy to install in a foolproof fashion – so athletes are not injured. In addition, storage for each surface must be accommodated.

Light

Competitive sports all require consistent high-quality lighting, ideally with no glare, shadow, or hot spots. To that end, while natural light makes things nicer for spectators, it is often highly problematic to athletes. Solar studies of existing buildings can help discover lighting trouble spots.

Amenities/Support

Storage and some form of changing space or locker rooms is a necessary component of a successful MPF for the athletes. In addition, accommodations for spectators and the public is critical. This starts with parking, a ticketed entry, and some form of lobby space. Easy access to restrooms and concessions becomes almost as important as spectator viewing areas.

 

Ultimately, most large event facilities are capable of supporting athletics. Evaluation using the critical considerations above, can help determine what fits easily and what may require more extensive and expensive modifications. Of note, considerations for new facilities are very similar to those above, however they have the benefit of preplanning. With a new facility, flexibility can be enhanced by being purpose-built to accommodate the desired athletic functions from day one.

A Word from our Owners – Lake Central Athletics

Lake-Central-Owner-Blog

Hear from two of our Owners on the addition/renovation of Lake Central High School athletic spaces:

Dr. Larry Veracco, Superintendent of the Lake Central School Corporation

Dr. Larry Veracco is in his 8th year as Superintendent at LCSC. He has spent 24 years serving the community as teacher, assistant principal, and Assistant Superintendent prior to his current role. Over the past decade, numerous upgrades to the district’s 10 schools and two support facilities have been completed.

Bill Ledyard, Director of Facilities at Lake Central School Corporation

Bill Ledyard is in his 10th year as the Lake Central Director of Construction and Facilities. Prior to Lake Central he spent over 20 years as a Project Manager, Senior Project Manager, and Director of Construction working on numerous projects throughout the United States.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

What role do athletics play for your school corporation?

All our extracurriculars are extremely important to us as an organization and to our community. As we try to develop well-rounded graduates, athletics play a huge role in our effort. We’ve found students who connect to the school beyond the classroom get better grades, behave better, and connect with staff or coaches better. Historically, we’ve had high participation rates in our athletic program, and our goal is to maintain or increase those rates. The new spaces allow us to do that.

How often are the facilities used ‘after hours’ and what’s the impact it has on the community?

Let’s talk about the pool first. We put a lot of pressure on the Schmidt Associates’ project team to have the pool as part of phase 1 because of our giant swim club and community demands. The pool is used all day: starting with the Masters program in the morning, followed by preschool classes and the High School teams. The Club Team then practices from 4-8pm each weekday evening. It’s the most heavily used facility we have on our campus.

The fieldhouse provided us with the opportunity for more student and community engagement. We now can have intramural volleyball teams, and we’ve hosted various fundraisers in this space. The spaces is also equipped with tennis standards, giving the teams free indoor practice space during the offseason. The community is also able to use the space for walking 2 days a week. Due to temperatures, they’ve asked us to extend it a few more weeks till April 30th which we are accommodating.

Let’s talk about your outdoor facilities?

I brag all the time about the turf baseball and softball because if you go out today, they look like they were installed last week. Our staff, students, and athletes have done a fantastic job of keeping the spaces beautiful. We never see garbage on them, and students even pick up leaves to put in the trash so they don’t get crushed into the turf.

The various athletic teams do a great job of working together to share the fields and keep everything nice. To help maintain our natural turf soccer field and give it a rest in July and August, the team can now put portable goals into the baseball outfield or football field for practice.

Did Lake Central School Corporation have any artificial turf before the High School? If no, what drove the decision to go with artificial turf and how do you like it?

We had natural turf fields prior to this project. The multi-use factor is what made us want to switch to artificial turf. There was a need for more outdoor PE class space and due to our climate, by the time natural fields were nice, the seasons were over.

Transitioning the football field was an easy choice because it is used so much. Prior to the artificial turf, the football field was always a sand lot by the end of the season, no matter what maintenance we did.

A bonus has been the significant decrease in our maintenance costs; whether it was dealing with crushed brick or weeds, all of that went away. And now we only get rained out if there is lightening or heavy rain on game day.

What feedback do you hear from the students, educators, and community about the athletic spaces at Lake Central High School?

We consistently hear from the community how nice the facilities are and they can’t believe they are actually ‘ours’. We continue to receive tremendous praise from the community that we did it right. All the new spaces receive compliments from our residents and guests.

We hosted the High School Basketball Sectionals for the first time in our high school’s history this past year. It was just the right size, even at 80-90% capacity. The atmosphere was electric, and we got praise for that by both the media and the fans of our opponents.

Anything else?

Not sure it fits into these questions, but the way Schmidt Associates helped us design the upgrades to make more spaces for our student athletes affects how they practice after school. We now can get them home for dinner and there is time later in the evening for out of season sports teams to workout.

The innovative, cost-effective, and functional designs developed by Schmidt Associates have resulted in cutting-edge spaces for our students and staff. The team listens to the our needs and wants and designs projects to accommodate their clients.

 

“Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many architectural firms. Working with Schmidt Associates on the Lake Central projects over the past decade has very rewarding.”

– Bill Ledyard

LCHS Athletics Gallery

Synthetic Turf—Not Just for Sports Fields Anymore

Installing synthetic (artificial) turf for sports fields instead of natural turf is no longer just for the professional teams, large universities, or “rich” high schools. Over the past 10 years, there has been a shift from synthetic turf being a luxury item to an option that simply makes good sense. In fact, Lake Central High School will soon be one of the only (if not the only) Indiana public high schools with football, soccer, baseball, and softball all being played on synthetic turf. Other now-common sport-related uses for synthetic turf include indoor training facilities, golf greens, and tennis courts.

Tennis Courts

Tennis Courts

In addition to sports fields, there has been a serious push recently to use synthetic turf for playgrounds, pet parks, commercial lawns, residential lawns, and rooftop patios. Nevada and California have incentive programs that pay cash to property owners who replace their natural turf lawn with synthetic turf to reduce water usage.

Residential Lawns

Residential Lawns

While the biggest disadvantage of synthetic turf continues to be the upfront costs, there are many advantages compared to natural turf:

Much less maintenance and manpower requirements
•  Unlimited use of fields with no “recovery” time following rain
•  Superior and more consistent appearance
•  More consistent playing conditions
•  Safer than natural turf fields that are not properly maintained
•  Backed with 8- to 10-year warranty
•  Environmental advantages:
–Reduced water usage
–No need for herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
–Materials are recyclable
–Less need for gas-powered equipment

Rooftops

Rooftop

Playgrounds

Pet Parks

Pet Parks

Commercial Lawns

Commercial Lawns

* Images are courtesy of the Synthetic Turf Counsel.