BLOG: Not your Momma’s fieldhouse: How the role of the college fieldhouse is rapidly changing


The college fieldhouse of today looks very different than it did 30, or even 20 years ago.  It is expanding. And not just a little- a lot- I mean literally “I ate so much I nearly split my pants” growing. For years colleges have

been upgrading classrooms and labs, building campus rec centers, adding academic programs, and the “never can have enough” parking spaces. And now, they are breaking the “dome” ceiling and using the new fieldhouse design to create a space for both students and community.

The College at Brockport: Special Events Recreation Center Durathon Elite

The College at Brockport: Special Events Recreation Center- Durathon Elite

For students, what was once mostly used for the competitive college athlete, is now home to track meets, intramural sports, tennis, volleyball/basketball tourneys, and student socials. These facilities open up greater opportunities for the average student who just wants to enjoy intramural sports or is part of a non-athletic team or club.

For communities; corporate fitness programs, special events like banquets, trade shows, or concerts, dance competitions…are just a few examples of how communities are using the 21st century fieldhouse. Equipped with abundant seating and state of the art concession stands, these modern fieldhouses are an attractive option for event planners. Athletic departments are also hosting youth sports camps which not only benefit young athletes, but helps the departments raise funds for other needs. And what kid wouldn’t want to attend sports camp at the same school where their favorite college quarterback or point guard goes? That’s a no brainer!

So what does all this mean for you? Let’s assume if you are reading this blog you are likely to be interested in some form of sports flooring. It is important to remember that not all surfaces are created equal. Meaning, different floor types are used for different purposes. Hence the reason maple is typically used for basketball since it is has the perfect combination of resiliency, surface friction, and hardness. However, maple is not always the recommended choice. In a fieldhouse like the one I just described, we would highly recommend a synthetic surface. Synthetic flooring comes in all shapes and sizes. There is rubber, padded polyurethane, vinyl, plastic tiles, just to name a few.  I know what you’re saying. A “few” Jamie? Really? Okay, there are a lot of options for field house flooring out there. So how will you know which surface is right for you?

Purchasing a new sports floor is a big deal. It requires time and effort to research the various surfaces available, and the right one for your facility. I mean, let’s face it. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on, so you’re selection of a sports floor shouldn’t be any different. A few things to consider when searching for the right floor:

Macalester College Durathon Elite & Pulastic SP

Macalester College- Durathon Elite & Pulastic SP

  1. What is the primary purpose of the building? Will it be a multi-purpose facility for recreation? Or will it be used for competitions or track meets?
  2. What activities will take place on the floor? Basketball? Volleyball? Soccer? Fitness? Track? If track- will the athletes wear cleats? If so, you will need a spike proof surface to prevent damage from the cleats.
  3. Are the right decision makers involved? The track coach, the facility manager, campus recreation director, etc… It is important to have someone on the selection committee that understands surface friction, injury prevention, comfort, etc…
  4. What is your maintenance budget and cleaning expectations? Some surfaces require more hours of labor in cleaning.
  5. What is your expectation of the life expectancy of the floor or building? Some floors will last longer than others.
  6. Do you have environmental concerns? For example, California has strict regulations with regards to urethane and top coat paints.
  7. What is your color or logo needs? Darker colors are easier to maintain and clean. Therefore, if your school colors are white and blue, you may choose blue as your primary color, with white as an accent.
  8. Will you have bleachers or seating on top of the floor? Will you have other heavy equipment on the floor at times (i.e. stages or lifts for events). Not all floors are made to withstand heavy equipment or bleachers, but some are. Knowing that up front is critical in the selection process.

I know this list seems daunting, and I’m not going to lie, it is a long process. But just like the athlete trains to compete and is rewarded with a win- your time and effort will also pay off in the end. You will have an outstanding facility that students and the community will flock to, and a floor that is safe, durable, and versatile enough to reach the masses.  

In the words of the great Michael Jordan “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

The RIGHT people + The RIGHT Information = The RIGHT Decision