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Refresh, Renovate, or Repurpose? 

BMO Field.

In an article that originally appeared in PanStadia Magazine 4th Quarter 2015, sports interior specialists, Stacy Bisek and Elizabeth Pritchett, share how Gensler Sports is reconsidering strategies for club suite revitalization to get the most return on investment for owners.

With sweeping views of the action on the field and on-site amenities, premium clubs and suites are an ideal setting to experience a game with friends and family, entertain clients and cultivate business connections. But in many stadiums, the premium inventory is often antiquated, outdated or simply uninspired leading to unsold inventory.

Gensler’s Sports practice is developing specific design strategies to revitalize underutilized suites in an effort to salvage and re-inspire—rather than demolish—these facilities.

When it comes to sports stadia, new isn’t always better. With today’s rapidly evolving technology, many club owners are looking to upgrade their premium inventory to keep up with the competition. Since creating a new facility is a big investment, many owners are looking to find creative ways to add value to existing premium spaces in order to breathe new life into old stadiums, while yielding better returns.

In an era where fans can watch a game in high definition from the comfort of their homes on their HDTVs, tablets or smart phones, how do you incentivize fans to the leave their living room for the stadium?

Revitalizing underutilized spaces isn’t just good for business—it also demonstrates to fans that you value them, and you want to make the fan experience memorable.

Earlier this year, we hosted an Innovation Lab on the topic of revitalizing suite inventory for the Association of Luxury Suite Directors Conference in San Francisco. During this Lab, we examined the differentiating elements and factors that stadium owners need to consider to get the most return on their investment, and presented our process for executing these options with clients. Three different strategies for revitalizing club suite inventory were presented, each with a different level of investment: refresh, renovate and repurpose.

Confidential Suite


Many club suites don’t need a major revamp; they just need a refresh. Maybe your suites are still functional but are uninspired and outdated and are in need of a “facelift” – this would include new furniture, carpet, equipment and AV upgrades; material updates and livening the space with lighting and inspired graphic elements. These minimal moves can have a big overall impact. Owners can increase seating capacity with a new furniture layout, create a modern look-and-feel and introduce new technology that improves the game-day experience. The goal of the refresh approach is to maintain existing suite holder relationships so that they are more likely to renew membership.

FirstEnergy Stadium Suite


Perhaps your suites aren’t selling well. This strategy gives your suite a “tummy tuck,” resulting in an entirely new suite experience. This is a bigger architectural intervention, offering an updated design and a flexible approach to programming. The suite inventory would be reconfigured based on current demand, implementing new materials, equipment, furniture, lighting and AV upgrades. One example of this would be designing single suites to have the ability to be combined into larger party suites, allowing for more varied programming and sales opportunities. The goal of the renovate approach is to attract a new demographic and client base to create new membership.

Confidential Suite


Underutilized spaces can be converted into flexible spaces with a variety of uses that respond to changing interests and needs. Diversifying Premium Product helps to maintain current clients, to attract an entirely new demographic, and to generate revenue on non-game days. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach, strategic solutions that are personalized to a specific fan base are key to a successful design. This can include innovative food service offerings, VIP spaces, flexible suites, meeting spaces and more.

Staples Center Premium Seating

Realizing Returns

These three strategies each offer opportunities for stadium owners to realize returns. When Gensler revitalized FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, we renovated hospitality offerings for pre-existing clubs. Fans now have six club options to choose from—each with its own unique theme and price point—offering a range of premium spaces to meet varying needs of different fan demographics. For the revitalization of Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, we added new furniture, carpeting, flooring and HDTVs, as well as a food market in each club lounge. At the San Manuel Club in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, premium dining tables with great views were undervalued. This premium real estate was re-purposed with semi-private banquettes sold similar to suites but with more flexible contract terms. This product introduced and entirely unique experience specific to the fans wants and needs in Los Angeles.

These are just a few options—the combinations and possibilities are limitless. Our architects and designers can work with clients to individualize designs that are best suited to the venue, taking into account current and future needs. Whether you refresh, renovate or repurpose, you can create more value for fans and keep them coming back for more!


Both Stacy Bisek and Elizabeth Pritchett are key members of Gensler Sports in Los Angeles. With 10 and 9 years of experience respectively, each has served as lead interior designer on numerous sports projects, with a focus on crafting environments that shape and expand the fan experience.

Gensler Sports is an industry leader committed to creating unparalleled experiences through collaborative venue design and placemaking. From stadia to sports-anchored districts, our expert sports staff in Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and London work collaboratively with local Gensler offices and specialists in entertainment, retail, hospitality, and branding to develop a comprehensive design solution that is functional and flexible. We don’t just design great venues – We create places for great experiences. Expertise defines us, passion separates us. www.gensler.com/expertise/sports.

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