Monolithic Dome Sports Facilities

Italy High School Multipurpose Center in Italy, Texas.

The Italy High School Multipurpose Center in Italy, Texas, seats 1,500 in a 148-foot diameter Monolithic Dome. The structure is also used as a storm shelter during tornado warnings.

A Monolithic Dome sports facility is an instant landmark. It speaks the language of sports design—historically and contemporary. People immediately recognize it as a place for events. In communities with a Monolithic Dome gymnasium, people say, “The game is at the dome.”

When you go inside, the dome appears to open up into a space more substantial than the outside can contain. It’s an optical illusion common to all Monolithic Domes, the outside sort of fades away as you approach, so the interior seems much larger.

The Monolithic Dome construction process creates a concrete shell with no interior columns, beams, girders, and other structural details blocking the width and height of the interior.

It’s breathtaking.

Round for a reason

It seems counter-intuitive to put a rectangular playing surface inside a circle, but the design is ideal. The seats curve out to create a range of perfect seats at mid-court or mid-field. Locker rooms, offices, restrooms, storages fit neatly underneath the seats. It’s the classic design for sports facilities from the ancient Coliseum to the modern Superdome.

A round building encompasses the most volume—providing larger playing surfaces and more space for spectators—while utilizing the least amount of materials.

Constructing conventional round structures always traded material savings with increased complexity to create the round shape. Add to this the free-span requirement for all sports venues, and we see why conventional construction costs per square foot increase as the building gets bigger—leading to eye-watering price tags for most arenas and stadiums.

A Monolithic Dome is a natural sports facility. Whether it is 100-feet or 400-feet diameter, the construction process is the same. The larger the Monolithic Dome, the more cost-effective it becomes.

Safety included

Every Monolithic Dome is a survivor. The steel-reinforced concrete construction is incredibly durable. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires; the Monolithic Dome survived them all.

Communities across the mid-west are buying Monolithic Dome gymnasiums to serve as community storm shelters. These buildings add hardened doors, windows, and other structural elements to meet FEMA P-361 standards for absolute protection from disasters.

FEMA offers grants—up to 75 percent of construction costs—to qualified schools and organizations to build FEMA rated safe rooms. But it’s more than a safe room; it’s a safe gymnasium. It’s two buildings for the price of one.

Affordable landmark

A typical sports facility is more than a court or playing field. It needs locker rooms, ticket booths, restrooms, concessions stands. That’s just the basics. We could add a weight room, a fitness center, coaches’ offices, a pro shop, administration offices, classrooms.

Then we need equipment like scoreboards, basketball hoops, HVAC, lighting. The court or field needs a safety zone around the perimeter, spectator seating, press boxes, skyboxes.

A Monolithic Dome does more than keep the rain off the playing surface. It is a substantial structure that forms the backbone of the facility. Interior walls are anchored to it. Stadium seats are supported by it. HVAC, lights, and heavy equipment hang from it.

Did you know there are Monolithic Dome storages supporting hundreds of tons of equipment on top? Why not build a sports facility where the scoreboards and even the skyboxes attach directly to the dome?

The total initial cost of construction becomes more affordable as we rely on the dome to carry the weight of construction. A complete Monolithic Dome sports facility is typically less expensive than similar conventional building.

Lower total cost of ownership

The combination of polyurethane foam and concrete make the Monolithic Dome incredibly energy efficient. It can cut energy use by half—or better—compared to conventional buildings. This translates to savings in the initial construction and long-term costs.

For example, by halving the energy requirements, we can cut HVAC equipment in half. It’s possible to eliminate advanced chillers and other expensive HVAC solutions. Instead, simple heating and cooling equipment can be used. It’s cheaper to buy and maintain.

A Monolithic Dome sports facility saves on its energy bill every month—month after month—for years. If we calculate the energy savings over twenty years, it’s typically enough to pay for the building’s construction.

Plus, the dome wall is essentially inert. It’s immune to bugs, mold, rot, mildew. With minimal maintenance, the structure could last for centuries.

Next Steps

There are many design considerations when planning a sports facility. It’s not just about the playing field or how many seats, but a whole range of needs to consider. Some sports facilities can even receive a FEMA grant if it’s for a qualified organization in a participating state.

The Monolithic Dome Institute can help with the initial design. We have access to sports designers and engineers who can give practical insights. Fill out this Free Monolithic Dome Sports Facility Evaluation form for an initial evaluation. There is no obligation or cost for this evaluation—we mean it, we are too busy to bother people who are not interested in building a Monolithic Dome. We will respond with real-world information for your project.