The Rooftop at Coors Field: Repurposed Space for the Next Generation Fan

It’s that time again! As a ballpark designer… it’s my favorite time of the year. Baseball is back in full swing. It’s time to go to a game, take in some May sunshine, order up some peanuts and relax.  It’s also an exciting time for us, as we watch renovation projects at ballparks across the country come to life. We see people move through these like-new spaces for the first time and take it all in- their beloved ballparks offering new experiences, new seating and new vantage points to watch the game.

Nowhere was this more evident at the start of the 2014 baseball season than at Coors Field. On Opening Day this year, the Rockies unveiled a rooftop deck concept, designed by Populous, that has been underway for more than a year and a half. As most avid baseball fans know, Coors Field has become a national example of the impact an urban ballpark can have on a downtown. The ballpark has accelerated the growth of LoDo, a previously languishing 26-square-block area of lower downtown. In less than 20 years, LoDo has now been revitalized in a way worthy of urban textbooks. A pedestrian mall, public art, small neighborhoods and a collection of high-end retailers and museums surround the park. Fans travel to the LoDo neighborhood early to shop, eat and socialize – and the ballpark has seen steady attendance rates and tremendous success in turn.

The Rooftop – a standing room only space – was designed specifically to help LoDo continue to grow and to entice some of the fan base who already arrives to the area early to come inside Coors Field. The new space combines the charm of Denver restaurants and bars with the ballpark environment. Craft beer, local food and great views of the field create a relaxed, neighborhood bar feel.  High definition televisions throughout, drink rails, a display kitchen and cabanas offer fans unique experiences and seating options that are as much about socializing as they are about the game. Even the materials selected – from the reddish concrete floors to comfortable lounge furniture to large aluminum garage doors that open around the bar – are young and fresh, taking cues from the trendy bars and restaurants that have helped LoDo grow.

The changes at Coors Field are game-changing as they are the most creative response yet to some of the larger trends impacting the fan experience in Major League Baseball . The deck, which is the largest in professional sports, repurposed a previously under-used section of the upper bowl to attract a young professional crowd while generating revenue for the team.

While the concept is new, it was a well thought out response that came from considering the following issues that are impacting nearly every MLB stadium in the country:  

  • The Millennial Fan: We asked ourselves and pooled data on how Millennials prefer to enjoy a baseball game. It was apparent that the experientialist fan thrives on a more social experience compared to the traditionalist fan, who tends to stay in their seat. Millennials are looking to be surrounded by friends, have access to drinks and food and be able to move about more readily than they are able to sitting in a lower bowl seat.
  • A Need for Variety: Because Major League Baseball’s fan base is evolving, there is a greater need for engaging, varied experiences within a ballpark. At Coors Field, it may be The Rooftop, while at Marlins Park it’s seen in The Clevelander’s indoor pool, but each team should consider how to create more a diverse experience that is reflective of their brand so all fans feel they have a space to call home within the ballpark.
  • Creative Repurposing: Revenue generation is critical, and often, spaces in aging ballparks sit underutilized or unused. Exploring options for how to repurpose these spaces can provide ample opportunity for teams to generate additional revenue while attracting new fans.

By evaluating trends and listening to what the next generation fan wants, the Rockies have shown they can get people in the ballpark early and create a more diverse, engaging experience   for all. One month after Opening Day, The Rooftop has been well received and is sure to continue to be a game-day destination for the city’s young professionals and casual fans well into the future.

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