Skip to Main Content

10 Things to Consider When Planning a Sports Park

It’s not every day that an Owner takes on planning a 100+ acre sports park, but when the scenario arises, The Kleingers Group brings proven experience to the team. Over the years, Kleingers has designed a number of large-scale sports parks and has found that many of the same considerations tend to come up during our design process. We would like to share with you what to consider before you take on your sports park design.

1. Connect to Existing Community Assets

Creating transportation linkages to other community resources such as parks, schools, YMCAs, and more will encourage participation at the new development. Pursue ways to blend the new park with its surroundings and work with neighbors and stakeholders to build support for the project. Leverage connections through existing infrastructure like trailways, complete streets, and other multi-modal systems will provide easy access for bicyclists and pedestrians who visit the facility.

2. Create a Site that is Safe, Easy to Use, and Navigate

Speaking of connecting the site with pedestrians, it’s also important to design ways to keep them safe, especially from vehicular traffic. Maintain separate vehicle travel zones and pedestrian travel zones when possible and provide for safe and clearly marked crosswalks to help minimize conflicts. Branding, wayfinding, and creative use of landscape theming will help visitors with vehicles travel to their destination within the site more efficiently while minimizing user frustration.

Oftentimes, large sports complexes lack adequate wayfinding due to oversight or budget concerns. Proper wayfinding design can help users get to where they need to be while also creating a recognizable brand for the sports park and the associated owner.

3. All Sports Park Owners are in the Parking Business

Did you know that many competitive organizations that bring tournaments to sports parks require minimum parking per event? Organizers hosting tournaments require anywhere between 50-100 spaces per field, some require even more. Believe it or not, sports park owners are in the parking business. Visitors have high expectations that parking should be easy and accessing their field shouldn’t be a hassle. Tournament organizers must meet the demands of their clients, which means balancing the site’s infrastructure is important to everyone’s bottom line. Planning for enough parking close to destination points within the design allows for better traffic flow and provides better ADA access throughout the site.  The site layout needs to balance ease of access without being interrupted by large parking areas, or losing the vibrancy of an active and energized park.

4. Plan for Flexibility: Master Planning the Site for Optimum Use

Creating a park with the most flexible layouts will mean more options for end-users. Engineering the field grading is a key component. Fields should be carefully engineered to accommodate high-end games and large events with the ability to host smaller games within the same space without compromising the playable area, including crowns and field orientation.

Master planning a complex for multiple sports provides flexibility when attracting special events. Understanding how to plan for and design sports parks for flexibility amongst sports, whether soccer, football, lacrosse, rugby, Australian football, ultimate frisbee, baseball, softball, or cricket will attract a larger audience. Knowledge of national sports trends will allow the field designer to guide a client through the planning stages while meeting their needs and measured desires within the area.

5. Coordinate with Local Municipalities

Working with local interests and shareholders during the design process helps to ensure that everyone has a voice in the process of designing the sports park. Creating opportunities for partnerships early will help generate buy-in from key stakeholders and community members. Our experience in working through this relationship helps guide programming, affordability, and ultimately desired priorities.

6. Plan for Extra Traffic in the Area

More often than not, any new development brings additional traffic to a site. Traffic engineers can provide traffic studies to better understand current traffic conditions and anticipated changes and recommendations.

7. Sports Engineering is Key: Grading, Drainage & Field Performance Will Keep Them Coming Back

Creating space for tournaments is big business and retaining that business helps any sports park be successful. If the grading, slopes, drainage, playing surfaces, and other amenities are not designed properly, tournament organizations will take their business down the road to the competing sports park. Competitive organizations have a business to run and their business model depends on feedback from players and parents who use the fields, facilities, and park amenities at these events. Positive survey feedback will increase the chances that they return again for another event.

8. Plan for Attendees Who are not Players or Spectators

A large portion of the sports park business is creating a fun and comfortable experience for attendees. Creating spaces, such as playgrounds, within eyesight of a group of playing fields keeps that family with one child playing in the game and another bored on the sideline entertained and comfortable. Providing a trail system allows for visitors to take a break between tournament games, connect to another game across the complex, or meander to a ‘hub’ with concessions and restrooms nearby. Trails also appeal to pedestrians and bicyclists across the community.

9. Create a Space for Vendors

An often-overlooked element of the sports complex business is providing adequate space for vendors who are often on hand during a sporting event selling sports equipment, promotional items, and more to parents and other attendees. Creating ‘vendor zone’ spaces convenient to tournament sites is a key selling point to those looking to bring competition to the area.

10. Plan for Championships and Celebrations

Another trend in design that we see is the inclusion of championship fields. These higher-quality fields, sometimes utilizing synthetic turf, are designed with more seating and are typically located in prominent areas of the complex to draw more crowds as competitions wind down. Additionally, we see the integration of amphitheater spaces where teams celebrate their accomplishments with awards ceremonies.


These design considerations are a fraction of the items to explore when creating a sports park. At Kleingers/Sportworks, we understand the business of sports parks, the competition that takes place inside and outside the park, and the investment owners take in creating these opportunities for revenue. We also understand good engineering, traffic, sports field engineering, survey and landscape design, and the importance of getting all of these things done right for the bottom line and ultimate success of any sports park complex.

Examining the Components of Synthetic Turf

Building a quality field is about finding the right mix of performance, durability, maintenance, and safety all within your budget.

No one wants to spend too much or alternatively, build a field that requires lots of maintenance and deteriorates quickly.

Having designed nearly 100 synthetic turf fields, Sportworks often serves as a third-party turf consultant for our clients, helping them find the best mix of performance and durability within their budget.

Below are just a few of the synthetic turf considerations Sportworks can help clients work through:

Fibers and Backing

There are a number of different systems to choose from, including monofilament, slit film, and a thatch layer, or any combination of the three. Sportworks helps clients evaluate the pros and cons of each and then select the correct physical characteristics of the fiber depending on the type of infill and if a pad will be used or not.

Read more about synthetic turf at the Sportworks site here.

Kleingers Presents at OPRA: Synthetic Turf & Parks

Synthetic turf has been gaining acceptance in a variety of sports facilities for over a decade. Incorporating synthetic turf in parks and recreational facilities is the next frontier for this alternative to natural grass.

But does it make sense for your park?

Kleingers will explore this topic at this weekend’s 2016 Ohio Parks and Recreation Association Conference and Trade Show.

Synthetic Turf Used in New and Interesting Ways

As synthetic turf improves in quality and becomes more and more popular for various sports fields, it has begun to become more popular for new and varied uses. Recently synthetic turf has been used for everything from dog parks, bocce ball and lawn bowling, golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds, swimming pool surrounds, amphitheaters, and open lawn areas.

The benefits of synthetic turf are many. It is easy to create a level playing surface, it is durable, soft on bare feet or paws, adaptable to many surfaces, and prevents weed growth.

However, there can be drawbacks, potentially including cost and maintenance.

The OPRA session will explore the basics of synthetic turf including different types of turf, the maintenance and costs involved, the necessary subgrade and drainage, and safety considerations.

By the conclusion of the program, parks and recreation personnel should have a better understanding of the benefits of synthetic turf that outweigh the costs for their particular park.

As the Group Leader for Sportworks Field Design, a division of The Kleingers Group, Craig Honkomp, PE, PS, LEED AP has completed more than 100 synthetic turf projects sits on the Board of the National Synthetic Turf Council as a national turf expert.

Honkomp will be joined by Michael Pistiolas, RLA, LEED AP BD+C, CCCA, a senior landscape architect with more than 13 years of park and construction document and construction administration experience.

To learn more about synthetic turf and its uses for parks and recreation projects, contact Craig at (513) 779-7851 or Michael at (614) 882-4311.

Sportworks Adds G-MAX Testing

As concussions caused by sports injuries continue to gain attention, it becomes more and more important for synthetic field owners to complete regular maintenance to ensure that their field continues to be safe for their players.

In November, Sportworks Field Design added G-MAX testing to its arsenal of field testing tools, allowing schools and other field owners to test the impact of the synthetic turf on players’ bodies and, more importantly, their heads.

Some studies highlight ways a synthetic field can be safer for players than natural grass. But over time, as a field gets more and more use, the infill can migrate away from high-use areas and begin to thin. The obvious result is that the field can get harder with less shock absorption each time a player falls. Field owners may be tempted to skip maintenance because of cost, but an unmaintained field can be a liability when players get hurt.

Sportworks recommends all owners perform G-MAX or “Impact Attenuation” testing annually to measure the shock absorption of synthetic turf throughout the field. The test is performed in accordance with ASTM Standard F355-A ensuring the field falls within an acceptable range.

Because Sportworks is a civil engineering firm and does not build fields or perform maintenance, field owners can be confident that the results are completely independent and unbiased.

The end result is owners can reduce their liability and be confident that their field is up to standards, and ultimately safe for players.