Premium Seating in Equestrian Arenas

Equestrian arenas have historically taken a minimalist approach to premium seating, incorporating very small amounts of premium seating options, if any. For many years, this has been a bit of an underlying issue- something that has detracted from the overall success of these facilities as multi-use venues. Premium seating, including clubs, suites and loge boxes, are features we more frequently identify with major league sports arenas, stadiums and ballparks, primarily because of the sheer size of these venues and the revenues they generate. However, in an effort to accommodate the evolving demands of the modern spectator which have been defined by their experiences at these larger venues, equestrian facilities have begun to incorporate high-quality guest amenities and a variety of premium seating options.

Driven to  not only create a more cohesive fan experience but also to increase revenues, owners and operators are looking to innovative seating options as an investment that will ultimately pay dividends. With more varied seating options, ticket prices and corporate sponsor package prices can be set accordingly, allowing equestrian arenas to benefit financially down the line.

What makes premium seating in equestrian facilities different? The premium seating we’re designing for the industry is tailored to the fans and focused on the way individuals interact and enjoy an equestrian event. Because of the length of the events (often, they last all day for multiple days), new seating products are being designed for comfort, socialization and to provide all the amenities for long-term stays in the venue.  We typically develop at least three premium seating areas with different price points, including rail-side luxury boxes, suites and party rooms.

Rail-side luxury boxes feature cushioned swivel seats with folding drink tables, which make an ideal product to sell to individual horse farms or trainers.  This product has occupied up to 1,200 seats in certain facilities and is generally broken into groups of 4 and 8.

Next, we are integrating more traditional sports arena suites that comfortably accommodate up to 10-12 people with inside seating. They also feature large catering areas that can be fully opened to the arena environment and a private seating deck outside the suite.

Finally, party rooms are rather unique to these new equestrian venues. Designed to comfortably accommodate20-60 people, these party rooms typically have expansive interior spaces for parties and come-and-go socialization throughout the duration of the event.  To support this, the party rooms usually feature their own kitchens, bars and toilets, as well as extensive in-house broadcasting capabilities.  These party rooms naturally have private seating decks overlooking the main arena, but wherever possible, we’ve also designed them to have views overlooking support spaces such as warm-up arenas and assembly areas just outside the main arena.  These are areas of great interest at horse shows and rodeos, providing spectators with a one-of-a-kind experience and inside look.

For examples of the above premium seating, we should look no further than two recently completed Populous venues: WestWorld of Scottsdale, which has undergone significant renovations that incorporated club spaces, suites and loge boxes and the entirely new Kansas Star Casino & Equestrian Center, both of which are reaping the benefits.

  • Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at WestWorld of Scottsdale: The expansion, which added more than 150,000 square feet of multi-use space, included the addition of four party suites with in-suite foodservice facilities, toilets and private seating decks with individual reclining arm-rest chairs on casters. The venue, which hosts of some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious equestrian events, has already sold out of the party suites for a majority of 2013 and 2014 events.
  • Kansas Star Casino & Equestrian Center: The Kansas Star, a new equestrian center which is part of the Kansas Star Casino near Wichita, KS, was designed to accommodate a wide variety of events – from equestrian shows and professional rodeo to concerts, boxing and car shows. Because of this, premium seating options were a must. The facility features 12 suites with private seating decks and a full-service restaurant and club overlooking the arena as well as the latest technology with HD video broadcasting throughout including in the restaurants and suites.  The new venue is perhaps one of the best examples of the evolving spectator experience in today’s equine industry.

As architects, we aim to enrich the experience of spectators in memorable ways through design. We consider how we can make their trip to our facility better, more comfortable and more unique. We consider the way that fans move throughout a building, the way they interact with other fans, competitors and animals, and the way they engage with the event in front of them. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this and we have been required to think differently about premium seating when introducing the concept to the industry. By tailoring the options to specific venues and the events they host, we ensure that premium seating becomes an investment that is worthwhile for owners and operators and further differentiates the equestrian facilities we design.

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  • @Populous’ Todd Gralla discusses the evolution of premium seating & amenities in #equestrian venues on our blog:

    Populous 5 years ago