The new $200-million LIVESTRONG Sporting Park – which opened in June 2011 in Kansas City, Kan., as home to the Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer (MLS) team – was designed to be the United States’ first world-class soccer stadium.
This 340,000 square-foot stadium situated on a 14-acre site features 18,500 seats and includes 36 luxury suites and five clubs. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park boasts a 75-yard by 120-yard playing field with a natural grass surface that includes an under-soil heating and moisture management system. The stadium’s state-of-the-art communications systems utilizes 300 HDTVs broadcasting through an IPTV network as well as two HD video boards, including the main 2,016 square-foot board on the stadium’s south end and a 550 square-foot board on the north end. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is the first MLS stadium to be fully lighted for HDTV.
Sporting Kansas City is locally owned by Sporting Club, which describes itself as a dynamic organization focused on creating opportunities for social, cultural and athletic connections.
“The overriding theme of the franchise owners in this stadium design was to push the definition of soccer in America – to take it to the next level as a major league professional sport,” said Brad Albers, AIA, associate principal, Populous, a specialist sport architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo. “We were asked to incorporate the best pieces of the European soccer model but give it a genuine American feel. The design features a dramatic European type canopy (that covers all seats) and enhanced design elements to boost the fan experience. They definitely wanted it to be a state-of-the-art facility and to utilize materials to create a modern design. This stadium reflects the age in which it was built unlike some baseball stadiums that we’ve designed to reflect a bygone era.”
Alucobond® Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) by 3A Composites USA was installed as building cladding throughout the stadium on both the building’s exterior and interior concourse. (Alucobond consists of two sheets of 0.020” aluminum thermobonded to a polyethylene core. Alucobond provides extraordinary flatness and rigidity, excellent formability, low weight and outstanding weather resistance.)
“This forward-thinking design features clean, simple lines,” said Albers. “Alucobond ACM helps to achieve that look.”
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is clad with approximately 60,800 square feet of Alucobond ACM in the 6mm thickness in four custom colors, including: 27,080 square feet of custom Willmer Blue, 18,380 square feet of custom ATCT Gray, 10,710 square feet of custom Pewter and 4,630 square feet of custom Tucson Medium Gray.
“The team’s primary color is blue; we then added the grays as a neutral palette,” said Albers. “The colors are used as visual cues throughout the stadium. Concessions on the concourse are framed in blue as a means of highlighting food areas. The suite fronts are clad in a different color on each level. And, the ‘accent band’ on the exterior features all four colors.”
The Alucobond ACM panels are installed as cladding throughout the stadium, including on entry portals, canopies, columns, concession stands, luxury suite fronts, scoreboard backs and interior decking.
“The Alucobond aluminum composite panels add lots of color to the exterior, concourse and decking,” said Martha Leahy, assistant project engineer, in the Kansas City, Mo., office of Turner Construction Co., which served as general contractor for the project. (New York-headquartered Turner Construction Co. describes itself as the largest builder of sports facilities in the United States.)
“The east exterior of the stadium features a multi-colored checkered pattern of Alucobond that is tied in with the multi-colored glass doors,” said Leahy. “The interior features a solid blue wall of color on the south side of luxury suites that are faced in shades of gray Alucobond.”
Although not originally specified for this project, Alucobond was recommended by Kansas City, Mo.-based A2MG, Inc., which specializes in the fabrication and installation of architectural metal and architectural glass, in a value-engineering proposal submitted to Turner Construction Co. Architects originally had specified an 8mm composite panel and evaluated several options, including a 2-inch insulated foam panel, according to Albers, but were swayed by the cost-savings proposition presented by A2MG with the 6mm Alucobond.
“There was no difference in durability or performance going from the 8mm insulated panel to the 6mm aluminum composite material,” said Albers. “We liked the crispness of the corners where the design is broken that could be achieved by Alucobond as well as its clean look.”
“We knew that Alucobond aluminum composite panels could take the shapes, sizes and reveals required to create the essential look of this project,” said Chris Mann, project manager, A2MG. “3A Composites also had the capacity to turn around custom colors quickly.”
Achieving a fast-paced design and construction schedule was of the utmost importance to team owners, who wanted the Sporting Kansas City team to play the majority of its 2011 matches in the new stadium to coincide with its November 2010 re-branding. Previously known as the Kansas City Wizards, this soccer team had played 15 seasons without a permanent home, including 12 seasons at a stadium built for football and three seasons at a stadium built for baseball.
Stadium design through construction was completed in 24 months, according to Albers. A2MG started fabricating Alucobond panels in December 2010 and completed installation in June. The stadium design required fabrication of 6,000 Alucobond panels of which 40 percent were individually unique, according to Mann.
“It was a complicated job,” said Mann. “Several walls had all four colors on the wall in a randomly checkered panel. We had to make sure we were putting on the right panel.”
A2MG utilized the Southern Aluminum Finishing Co., Inc., Series 4500 Pressure Equalized Rain Screen system to install the Alucobond panels.
Sporting Kansas City played its first match in LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on June 9, 2011. The stadium also was designed to host special events such as concerts with a seating capacity of 25,000. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park welcomed a near-capacity crowd for Farm Aid 2011 on August 13, 2011.
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is named for the association of Sporting Club with the Lance Armstrong Foundation known as LIVESTRONG, which was founded by the champion cyclist and cancer survivor to support individuals living with cancer. A portion of all stadium revenues, including ticket sales and concessions, fund LIVESTRONG’s work in the fight against cancer.
“We have had some game sell-outs and have had truly great attendance for our first season in this facility,” said Lee Turner, construction manager, Sporting Kansas City. “Everyone who visits the stadium is overwhelmed by how modern and clean the facility appears throughout. The Alucobond aluminum composite panels look fabulous and contribute to the overall sophisticated image that ownership sought for this top-notch major league soccer stadium.”
Top four photos by Alistair Tutton Photography
Bottom photo by Chris Mann – A2MG