Sean Stone joins ThomsonAdsett Communities & Sports sector team

Sean Stone is one of Australia’s leading sports and recreation facility planners and designers.

He’s had more than 20 years’ experience as an architect working across sports, education, community and recreation projects for both government and private clients.

Sean has delivered a number of prominent international projects including the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre new water play space, the award-winning NZ ASB Sports Centre and the Bisini Sports Precinct for the 2015 Pacific Games.

Sean shares the trends in the sports sector and how good design can add value to communities.

What are some of the trends and issues you’re seeing in the sports sector?

Some of the changes that I’ve witnessed in the sports sector include:

  • Greater participation of women in sport (especially traditionally male-dominated sport, such as AFL, cricket and soccer). Local providers now need to consider universal design when building or refurbishing all sports facilities. The time when change rooms/amenities only catered for men is over and there’s a greater need for facilities to cater for women and provide non-gender-specific amenities.
  • Indoor sports facilities are now being considered as destination places and event centres. Creating multi-purpose facilities that cater to more than sports are being emphasised from a business-case model.
  • The local outdoor swimming pool has historic significance to a township’s social makeup, however, the majority of them are past their expiry date and are unable to take on the costs of renovating and operating. This is becoming a social and financial issue for regional councils and low-population townships, where pools become the social network during summer.

What are some of the benefits of well-designed sports projects?

Sports facilities (such as indoor stadiums and stadia) are now being considered destination places or event centres. These facilities are enticing the patron to ‘stay longer’ and engage in other activities – this can benefit local retail, tourism (including museums), food, beverage and accommodation providers.

On a local front, sports centres (both indoor and aquatic) are considering the balance between active and passive leisure. They often support a greater connection to outdoor parklands and pathways, while also providing greater service to the patron. For example, fitness facilities (gym, cardio, spin, boxing) are being considered as part of financial (business case) make up for aquatic centres – your club membership goes further!

Sports centres (especially aquatics) consider wellbeing as a major activity and financial source. The introduction of hydro-therapy pools and wellness/spa consulting suites into aquatic centres provides other ‘service’ opportunities for health and seniors living providers and users. In this way, sports centres can appeal to a broader audience such as non-fitness users and people with different ethnic backgrounds.

Recreation projects can add a huge amount of value to tourism projects. ThomsonAdsett has recently delivered the Riley Hotel in Cairns, and the resort’s pool and leisure facilities have been a key marketing tool for our client.