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Kansas City Sports Architecture Takes Center Stage On Super Bowl Sunday

Christy Radecic for HOK
The Hard Rock Stadium hosts this weekend's Super Bowl.

Kansas City is known for its style of barbecue and its jazz icons, but it's also a hub for sports architecture.

Populous, HOK and HNTB have played an outsized role in the design of ballparks and stadiums around the country, including the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, just north of Miami, where the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers play Sunday in Super Bowl LIV.

Kansas City-based Populous designed the stadium, which opened in 1987. It's gone through 10 name changes over the years, and been called Hard Rock Stadium since August 2016. 

The stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2010, before three phases of major upgrades launched in 2015. Kansas City-based HOK spearheaded those improvements, which included replacing every seat, adding an open-air canopy and updating all premium spaces.

"To get to see the Chiefs play there for us is a really exciting moment for everybody here," said Micheal Day, principal and senior project manager at HOK, who led the renovations. 

Here are a few things to know when you're watching the Super Bowl this weekend.

1. Renovations took place in phases.

Credit Christy Radecic for HOK

Starting in 2013, the stadium was renovated during three off-seasons for the Miami Dolphins. Day said the first phase of construction was completed in the fall of 2015; the second phase, the roof, was completed in 2016, and the third phase in 2017. 

"We renovated basically every space in the stadium," said Day. "We replaced every seat (from 76,018 down to 65,326, with colors changing from orange to teal). Both general concourses, and the premium areas, and back-of-house areas were all renovated, as well as the roof addition." 

The team didn't have to reschedule any games. 

2. The open-air canopy is a 'signature architectural element.' 

Credit Christy Radecic for HOK

The canopy is designed to protect visitors from the weather, shade them from the sun and boost crowd noise. It covers a little over 90% of the seating bowl.

"The roof canopy will drastically change the event," said Day.

"The shade canopy, given Miami's beautiful weather, it's still outside. But, hopefully, fewer of the fans have the sun in their face."

3. Everyone can see videos.

Credit Christy Radecic for HOK

Technology upgrades included four 1,472-inch videoboards.

"We removed the two really large video boards that were at either end," he said. "And we replaced them with four videoboards that are in the corners, so your ability to see that video content is easier from everybody's seat."

4. All patrons get a 'premium' experience.

Credit Christy Radecic for HOK

"Throughout the process, the team was a great collaborator and trying to improve the experience, not just for a singular patron, but for all patrons to have a better experience," Day said.

"As we've phrased it, sort of premium for all. So every ticket price should be able to experience some level of upgrade or some of those nicer amenities." 

5. Miami artists have a showcase.

Credit Christy Radecic for HOK

The design incorporates murals by Miami artists.

"One of the pieces that I think the Dolphins did especially well in renovating the stadium was to incorporate local art and create a platform for that interaction with the community," Day said. "Those installations turned out fantastic." 

Local partners, he said, were also sought out for food and beverage offerings. 

6. Living rooms are everywhere.


Credit Christy Radecic for HOK

Day said he's felt a lot of excitement and buzz from his family and friends. Despite his role in the stadium's renovations, however, he'll likely be watching the game from his home in Kansas City.

"I won't be there in person, unfortunately," he said. "But, again, we'll be able to see all of the wonderful shots of the stadium and get to enjoy watching the Chiefs there."

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can follow her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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