Building Better Facilities: Creating Innovative Experiences for Today’s College Sports Fans and Recruits


  • Brad Christopher, P.E., President, LBYD Engineers
  • Brad Harrison, P.E., S.E., LEED AP, Senior Project Manager, LBYD Engineers
  • Gregory Forthofer, P.E., LEED AP, Associate Athletics Director of Capital Projects, Auburn University
  • Andre Seoldo, Associate Athletic Director Facilities & Operations, University of Cincinnati
  • Caitlin Seifried (Moderator), Marketing Manager, LBYD Engineers

Webinar Recap

With the NCAA expected to pass the one-time transfer legislation this week, and the financial shortfalls that Football Bowl Subdivision (“FBS”) athletic departments continue to face from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is now even added importance in terms of institutions uniquely presenting themselves to recruits, student-athletes, and fans.  In that vein, LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”) hosted its latest webinar this week on building better facilities to appeal to these audiences. LBYD Engineers, an engineering company in the sports facilities space, presented the webinar. Two of LEAD1’s own, Gregory Forthofer (Manager of Capital Programs at Auburn University) and Andre Seoldo (Associate AD/Facilities and Operations at the University of Cincinnati) participated on the panel and commented on some of the trends on their campuses.

For those LEAD1 athletic administrators unable to join the live webinar, here are the key takeaways:

  1. The digital experience on your campus is critical for attracting student-athletes, recruits, and fans. Dynamic media, such as high-end audio, video, and lighting, as well as creative digital displays in stadiums and arenas is extremely important to attract these audiences. In fact, Auburn University has built a digital display within its Recruiting Center at its football stadium, flashing highlights and promoting its sporting events, which can be seen even at night from outside of its stadium.  The University of Cincinnati has similarly built digital displays in its venues, such as a digital ribbon board along its press box, which serves as added exposure for advertisers and marketing content.
  2. Adaptive reuse of existing facilities can save major costs and appeal to broader audiences. Some FBS schools are even adapting their football stadiums to feature Topgolf-like experiences. Similar to other LEAD1 schools, the University of Cincinnati has used their basketball arena to administer COVID-19 vaccines.  According to LBYD, remodeling current facilities can also preserve an important historical element, which may be important for fans who feel a certain nostalgia seeing their favorite team play in the same venue. Through adaptive reuse, Auburn University has also developed high-end premium seating rather than having to build a completely new stadium.
  3. Good document management practices for facilities can save projects. According to LBYD, LEAD1 athletic departments should keep and maintain relevant facility documents, such as facility condition reports, which provide information that facility engineers need to modify existing facility structures. There is more risk associated with not having all the needed information about a particular facility, which could derail or cancel a project, and cost an institution significant time and money. Maintaining existing facilities should also stay top of mind with regard to facility operation planning, and every LEAD1 institution should have a dedicated person managing these plans for each of their facilities.

For more on best practices with respect to building and managing facilities, please contact LBYD Engineers.