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Metal Buildings Industry: Top recruit for sports facility development

Wes Brooker

The American appetite for sporting events continues to remain steady, making sports facility development a popular and profitable endeavor. An essential element for attracting teams and fans to a sporting event is an up-to-date attractive facility. The demand has increased to find a building method that is quick and efficient. The metal buildings industry has helped to facilitate this process.

Current trends show that better-quality athletic facilities lead to increased revenue. According to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, the current thought pattern in collegiate athletics is that spending increases performance, which means schools participate in a spending race to buy the best coaches and build the best facilities to recruit the best talent. Talented and skilled players yield better performance, increased fans and ultimately more revenue.

The metal buildings industry has seen a growing demand for sports and recreational facility projects because the root of the spending trend falls with facility updates and development. A metal building is the ideal choice for athletic facility projects because of the affordability, design flexibility, simplified construction process, energy efficiency and technological advancements.


Affordability and Cost-Effectiveness

An investment in a metal building system provides advanced and expertly built facilities that efficiently meet the project needs for the most economical construction and life cycle costs while allowing for fast, cost-effective production. The economical construction process leaves room for investments in additional facilities, amenities and other extras. Metal building systems keep the costs low, but can provide a high return on investment based on the trend linking better facilities to recruitment, team performance and revenue. For example, Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., completed construction on their state-of-the-art metal practice facility in August 2011. USA Today reports that for 2011, the university saw an increase in athletic department revenue more than 11 million dollars from the previous year.


Design Variability

The metal buildings industry has seen dynamic growth, in part due to metal building systems' ability to meet the design needs of varying industries, particularly sports and recreational facilities. Athletic facilities, gymnasiums and other multipurpose spaces require large clear spans and unique designs, which can be met with a metal building system. The Gold's Gym of Eau Claire, Wis., needed a building that met the design needs of a multi-use facility. Eufaula, Ala.-based American Buildings Co. (ABC) Authorized Builder, Bauman Construction of Chippewa Falls, Wis., used metal buildings to construct a facility that includes a full-size basketball court, group exercise and yoga rooms, four-lane, 25-meter swimming pool with hot tub, sauna and 11,800-square-foot mezzanine area for spectating.


Simplified Construction Process

A custom-engineered metal building is quickly replacing conventional construction practices because no other method offers a single source of responsibility for the entire project. Custom-engineered systems complete the design, detailing, manufacturing and management, while eliminating confusion, multiple suppliers, loss of control, delays and time consumption. In 11 short months, ABC Authorized Builder, Toronto-based Wheelwright Group Inc., was able to supply and erect the 165,000-square-foot, custom-engineered structural steel and metal clad portion for the MasterCard Centre Complex in Toronto. The state-of-the-art hockey-training center is the first arena built in Toronto in more than 25 years.


Energy Efficiency

Metal buildings provide a custom-building solution at an environmentally friendly cost. Steel is a sustainable and recyclable metal, while metal roofing systems, coatings and insulated wall panels help the building remain energy efficient. Green products such as cool coatings and insulated panels help cut down on heating and cooling costs of the facility. Cool coatings must meet a solar reflectance of at least 25 percent, while insulated panels have 100 percent reliable thermal performance and insulation capacity. Thus, metal systems materials now have guaranteed energy efficiency.


Technological Advancements

Technology has provided an advanced feature to metal buildings construction. ABC athletic facilities as a standard are detailed with state-of-the-art Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Tekla Structures software, which allows builders to build virtually before building in reality. The advanced computer design technology expedites the timeline, provides fully predictable costs and allows for complete flexibility in layout and appearance. The use of BIM also leads to fewer change orders because of early clash detection, saving money and valuable time. The building owner gets a digital model of the completed project that can be used for decades of operation and maintenance.

Overall, the affordability, design flexibility, simplified construction process, energy efficiency and technological advancements of metal building systems make them an appealing solution for athletic and recreational facilities. Additionally, the growing trend in athletic facility development and upgrades is easy to spot. The Business of College Sports provides a national, monthly round up of the current athletic facility projects colleges are undergoing or looking to pursue. The extensive list shows the importance colleges see in facility upgrades and their willingness to invest in these projects. Metal sports and recreation facilities are built using top-quality materials that can maintain their appearance year after year, making metal systems construction a logical and ideal investment for facility development.


Wes Brooker is the market development manager with American Buildings Co., Eufaula, Ala., and is responsible for corporate development and strategic growth programs for the company. His areas of expertise include marketing, business strategy, top line growth, green and sustainability programs and Building Information Modeling. For more information, go to