Why All Eyes Are On March Madness Sports Arenas and Stadiums

The ultimate in college basketball better known as March Madness runs from March 19, 2013 – April 8, 2013. It is a time for cities and universities to showcase their sports arenas and hospitality. The real questions for the sports arenas hosting the games and the hotels handling the visitors are; will they be able to avoid a Super Bowl XLVII asset failure and how will the city/hotels be remembered?

Georgia Dome, Home of Final Four 2013This article will take a look at both segments in a two-part post examining the behind the scenes operations that will either make March Madness a roaring success or an event to be forgotten. The first segment is about the sports arenas and how good asset management practices for everything from arena facilities to communications and utilities can make sports facilities management invisible to the public.

The Sporting Arena Venues

After the conference tournament’s end, 68 teams will be selected to participate in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball tournament. The chosen teams will then be dispersed to play in a total of 13 sports arenas. The venues and selected statistics for the tournament are as follows:

Sports Arena Location Event Date(s) Capacity Owner Operator Age Home to
Univ. of Dayton Arena Dayton
Mar. 19,20
Mar. 22,24
University of Dayton
University of Dayton
First Four
2nd & 3rd Rounds
The Palace
Mar. 21,23
Tom Gores
Palace Sports and Entertainment 35
NBA’s Detroit Pistons
Rupp Arena
Mar. 21,23
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government The Lexington Center
University of Kentucky
EnergySolutions Arena Salt Lake City
Mar. 21,23
Larry Miller Sports & Entertainment Larry Miller Sports & Entertainment 22
NBA’s Utah Jazz
HP Pavilion
San Jose
Mar. 21,23
City of San Jose
San Jose Sports & Entertainment 20
NHL’s San Jose Sharks
Frank Erwin Center
Mar. 22,24
Univ. of Texas at Austin
Univ. of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
Sprint Center
Kansas City
Mar. 22,24
City of Kansas City
Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) 6
AFL’s Kansas City Command
Wells Fargo Center
Mar. 22,24
Comcast Spectacor
Global Spectrum
Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
Verizon Center
Mar. 28,30
East Regional
Monumental Sports and Entertainment Monumental Sports and Entertainment 16
Washington Wizards (NBA) Capitals (NHL)
Staples Center
Los Angeles
Mar. 28,30
West Regional
L.A. Arena Company, AEG L.A. Arena Company,
L.A.’s Clippers
L.A.Lakers and Kings
Lucas Oil Stadium
Mar. 29,31
Midwest Region
State of Indiana
Marion County, Indiana
Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
Cowboys Stadium
Mar. 29,31
South Regional
City of Arlington
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
Georgia Dome
April 6,8
Final Four
State of Georgia
Georgia World Congress Center Authority 21
Atlanta Falcons (NFL)

Sports Arena and Stadium Maintenance Challenges

Looking at the preceding chart, four points immediately jump out. They are:

  1. The average of the sports arenas and stadiums is over 21 years.
  2. Venue ownership includes the State of Indiana, municipalities, universities, corporations and private ownership.
  3. Facility management is often contracted out which can be both good and bad.
  4. Many of the sports arenas are home to professional sports teams and all are used for multiple events.

The statistics are important for several reasons. The first reason is that the type of maintenance required by each of these sports facilities is going to vary by age and current asset conditions. The simple fact is that 20 year old plumbing and electrical assets are not as reliable as newer facilities should be.

Secondly, the level of care than can be afforded is going to vary based upon available budgets. For example, Comcast is enjoying record profits but most universities and local governments are facing severe budget constraints. You would expect that The Wells Fargo Center and Cowboy Stadium to be among the best maintained facilities.

The wear and tear of multiple use facilities increases the number of assets that need inspections and preventive maintenance before, during and after use. For example: a sports arena that is home to an NHL team has to make sure that the ice making equipment is shut down and restarted properly.

Lastly, who is responsible for the sports arena and stadium maintenance can make a significant difference. When maintenance is handled by a competent in-house staff or contracted out to a professional sports facility group there is an underlying assumption that they have the knowledge and the EAM CMMS system tools that are needed for quality maintenance.

Expected competencies include but are not limited to: the ability to establish standard operating procedures, minimize costs with proactive maintenance programs and optimize energy usage. In addition, given the tens of thousands of assets, it is critical that asset and maintenance managers always know the location and condition of assets.

On the flip side, sports arenas and stadiums who handle asset and maintenance management without an EAM CMMS system can easily face the problems of Super Bowl XLVII. In this situation a newer power relay was not set properly, triggering switch gear causing a black out. The real issue is that the Superdome, utility company and manufacturer are all pointing fingers at each other.

A detailed maintenance inspection should have uncovered the incorrect setting so that the city of New Orleans and NFL executives would not have been embarrassed. When maintenance is performed well it is transparent to the public and not the fodder for ridicule.

Asset Management for Sports Arenas and Stadiums

University of Dayton ArenaAsset managers for public sporting events must be prepared for the unexpected. Sports arena and stadiums that do not make use of EAM CMMS systems run the risk of accelerated asset deterioration, greater unplanned asset failure and skyrocketing energy bills.

Given the technology available in today’s world, there really is no excuse to have paper or spreadsheet based asset and maintenance management for sports arenas and stadiums. Even cash strapped organizations will come out ahead by implementing an EAM CMMS type system.

The automation of the work order process alone can save precious labor hours and dollars. This time can then be spent increasing the amount of proactive maintenance such as inspections and preventive maintenance. Proactive maintenance equals fewer costly repairs and less frequent capital replacements.

You would not buy a high performance car and expect that your dealer’s service department is only using obsolete tools for diagnostic and repair. So if you are going to spend $100 million plus for a sports arena, it makes sense to spend a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of that to ensure:

  • Assets are kept in prime operating condition and last longer with better maintenance.
  • Energy costs are contained as well maintained equipment uses less energy.
  • Accident liability from negligence is minimized by having documented history of all work performed.
  • That all vendors and contractors are being managed so that the power doesn’t go out.
  • That taxpayers or supporters do not need to pay for a new stadium before it is absolutely necessary.

As a college basketball sports fan, it is my hope that all the games are problem free and that attendees will remember each venue as being well-kept. And by the way, GO SYRACUSE!!!!

Share with us your experiences at your local sports arena. How well is it kept up?

The next article in this series will focus on how prepared the hotel and lodging industry is for the tournament. If you liked this article you may also enjoy reading:

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