Multi-use and stand-alone athletic venues alike have unique challenges associated with modern sports facilities. For some, the challenge is to find portable equipment that is durable enough to withstand regular mobility for field changes. For others, it is a desire for increased safety without compromising aesthetics or spectator experience. And some are just looking for equipment that functions a little better. Addressing the wide array of needs from venues, at all levels of play, takes active communication between facility managers, end users, and the manufacturers. In fact, communication is the key to innovations in the sports field equipment industry.
Here are three examples of how communication between Sportsfield Specialties and leaders on the field helped move the industry forward and meet the needs of modern sports venues.
- Goal Post Innovation Offers Venue Managers Confidence in Upright Alignment
In the early 2000s, conversations about purchasing football goal posts started with a handshake and plans for installation. They were followed months later with a call from venue managers struggling with missing roll pins and out-of-plumb uprights. This common issue was often the result of regular exposure to high winds vibrating the pins from position. Correcting the problem was cumbersome, dangerous, and required attention from several personnel.
For David Moxley, Director of Sports Construction Sales at Sportsfield Specialties, listening to the concerns of end users led to the 2006 release of the patented AdjustRight® Football Goal Post. The new engineered design incorporated a rotating internal sleeve with an upright stub on the crossbar (where the upright attaches), which could be loosened, adjusted, and then tightened into position with no roll pins to worry about. Also, the innovation made it possible for only one person to adjust the equipment safely.
- State-of-the-Art Netting Addresses Fan Experience & Safety
Increased safety has become a priority for institutions and athletic organizations across North America. Perhaps one of the most high-profile cases was in 2015 when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recommended that league stadiums expand protective netting beyond the backstop.
The public response was mixed—some embraced the increased safety measures, but others balked at the potentially ruined viewing experience. “There were valid concerns from both parties,” said Kevin DeVantier, Director of Sales (Direct Division), “ballparks wanted to keep fans safe, and fans wanted the open-air feel without an obstructed view.”
Those concerns fueled the revolution in netting technology that led to success of products like Ultra Cross® Baseball Netting. The braided and knotless design of Ultra Cross® is constructed from super-durable Dyneema® fiber and requires less material to ensure exceptional spectator protection. Additionally, the low profile 1.2mm twine is certified as having industry leading 95% see-through visibility.
The expressed concerns about fan experience also inspired netting manufactures and MLB, along with Sportsfield’s participation, in finding a special green coating to camouflage the net against the playing field. The solution DeVantier said was, “simple, but very effective” in improving fan experience on game day and is used in many professional ballparks throughout North America.
- Busy San Francisco Soccer Facility Gets Mobility Solution
Sometimes a simple fix can make a big impact. For example, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the city’s parks and recreation department struggled with the durability of soccer goal wheel kits at their high-traffic community venue. “It’s probably one of the busiest soccer fields in the country,” explained Alex Fletcher West Sales Manager at Sportsfield Specialties. He said that the goals were being moved several times a day to meet the needs of players of all levels.
When San Francisco Parks and Rec reached out to Sportsfield for a solution, they were looking for an alternative to the norm. At the time, Sportsfield only offered wheel kits, but as Fletcher said, “We listened, and more importantly, heard their request and met with designers to come up with ideas.”
What came next was a simple, yet highly effective (and popular) solution, soccer goals with aluminum skids welded to the base. “We wouldn’t have added the skiddable feature if the customer didn’t express their needs.”
For companies changing the face of sports venue equipment, communication is a crucial piece to their creative process. Providing feedback and collaborative brainstorming fuels innovation, ultimately making venues safer and easier to manage for end users.