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Sport Stadiums and Climate Vulnerability

In the last few years there have been three excellent examples of early stadium replacement, justified by climate change. Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, was built with a roof to ensure athletes weren't stuck playing in the extreme heat of the Texan summer. In California, Oakland Ballpark is being built to last 'basically forever' and thus is being designed to withstand sea level rise and shifting weather patterns. In Miami, Marlins Park was designed to hold up in the most extreme wind and weather conditions, to accommodate hurricane-level winds and to minimize potential damages.

In this study, the authors examine the extent to which stadium replacement relied on climate justifications in each case, and whether the new stadiums adequately address the climate hazards used to justify their construction. The findings indicate that although all three examples involved the replacement of an existing ballpark, only in the Texas case was climate adaptation openly cited as the primary reason for stadium replacement. Still, ballpark replacement plans in Oakland and Miami included significant and costly design features to protect the stadiums from extreme weather events. In each case, however, the climate vulnerability of the sports organization involved was reduced due to the new infrastructure.

As cities and metropolitan regions continue to grapple with the known and unforeseen impacts of climate change, the associated vulnerability of large public assembly facilities such as major sports stadiums – particularly those prominently situated in urban centers – can no longer be ignored. Moving forward, it is possible that some facilities will be replaced as a climate adaptation strategy, with design and structural features built to accommodate the weather and natural conditions of the region.

CITE: Kellison, T.B. & Orr, M. (2020). Climate vulnerability as a catalyst for early stadium replacement. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship. Ahead of print.


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