05 Sep 2019

Aluminum Bleachers Remain A Top Ten Requested Amenity Within College And University Budgets

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Aluminum bleachers

Aluminum bleachers at Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.

Aluminum bleachers, a mainstay in campus sports and recreation programs, continue to hold a secure spot in the top ten items listed in the annual budget plans and funding wishlists of colleges and universities, according to Recreation Management Magazine.

This is notable because in general, recreation and sports-related programs traditionally end up taking the hits when funding shortfalls and budget cuts occur.

And those shortfalls and cuts are more prevalent than we may have thought.

Respondents to a survey conducted by Recreation Management Magazine report they are continually struggling with revenue generation and budgets. In fact, the majority of college respondents revealed that they currently recover only about a third or less of their expenditures through generated revenues.

On top of this, colleges expect their operating expenses to continue to grow at faster than average rate, reaching over 11 % in some instances. Some of the decreased revenues collected are a result of declining use of school provided facilities and the corresponding user fees associated with the facilities and programs.

When it comes to cutting costs and saving money, the most often used methods are increasing energy efficiency (less energy consumption), reducing staff (leading to reduction of facility operating hours and even fewer collected revenues), increasing fees or postponing potential renovation or building plans.

Sports and recreation programs seem to carry more value than what we see from the outside looking in.

College and university administrators have noted that these programs are traditionally very important tools in their recruitment process. They add to and improve the perceived quality of campus life, so their worth isn’t always determined by a simple budget vs revenue report.

Additionally, these sports and recreation programs present opportunities for improvement through more efficient use of new or additional aluminum bleacher seating.

Fewer projects planned but with bigger budgets

The actual number of respondents planning any type of construction or renovation plans for the year fell. But the respondents that had new construction planned grew from 21.8% to 25.9%. Another 22.4% were planning additions, while 37.1% were planning a renovation project.

Among those planning to build, the average budget for new projects was the highest in all categories, reaching $9,500,000, up from a previous average of less than half that amount.

There were few changes in this year’s college and university wishlists, wit aluminum bleachers and seating category being consistently mentioned in the top six of listed features.

The hopeful addition of synthetic turf for sports and recreation facilities dominated the list and is continually growing in popularity because of its versatility, now being used in many non-traditional areas like fitness centers, locker rooms, indoor and outdoor tracks, etc.

But, synthetic turf is costly. So it makes sense for those colleges and universities that install synthetic turf surfaces to then concentrate on holding events and developing programming that takes advantage of their new surface, attracting more users and a wider range of events.

Nearly all (96.9%) respondents to the survey said that they do currently provide at least some sort of programming for facility users, whether it is fitness or sports-related (tournaments, races, or off-season camps), education-related, or single, standalone events related to special occasions, holidays or school milestones.

But by increasing or choosing better programming, or making changes to the current programs to better suit the interest of the enrolled user base would increase attendance, meaning additional revenue generated from user fees and facility use.

More attractive, functional, and user-friendly fitness centers, gyms, locker rooms and facilities for extracurricular sports and activities would increase user satisfaction and result in increased revenues from both participants and spectators, slowing and reversing the trend of declining facility use.

Quality manufactured and professionally installed Aluminum Bleachers are essential

College football still gets the share of attention as the most played, watched, and attended sport for colleges and universities.

Aluminum bleachers are a great place to watch the game, and are always the best choice for any mass seating situation, being the most economical, safe, and easily maintained while remaining resistant to weather, environmental issues, and all of those rowdy college football fanatics.

But football isn’t the only event that can be held in a college or university stadium. Other sports and heavily attended functions can be successful in a stadium facility. And slight changes can be made in the seating configuration of your aluminum bleachers to enhance the viewing angles and line of sight needs for each specific event.

The best-rated stadiums and venues take spectator seating seriously, considering the visitor experience in regards to comfort, safety, reliability, ease of access/egress, and proximity to enhancements such as restrooms and concessions.

It is recommended that colleges and universities look at the big picture, considering the different bleacher seating needs and challenges for all possible uses within their venues, and plan accordingly. Make the stadium and venue multi-sport and event compatible to draw more events, more crowds, and most importantly, more returning, revenue-generating crowds.

Adding temporary or portable bleachers for greater user experience

Colleges and universities should consider customizing their bleacher seating configuration to match the sport or on-field event when possible, providing enhanced spectator views and a richer, more involved and enjoyable user experience. This leaves the spectator with a desire to come back for future events.

But it’s also important to provide enough bleacher seating for all spectators that want to attend the game on any given day.

Nothing deflates confidence in a venue more than people showing up to take in a highly anticipated event only to have nowhere to sit, being forced to find a place to stand that will be out of the way and not blocking traffic areas or emergency routes.

Temporary, portable bleachers are a great way to provide extra needed seating for single events with heavier than normal attendance, or as a way to get spectators closer to the action down on the field.

Temporary, portable aluminum bleachers can be installed and set up in the proper locations and viewing angles for single date events or one-time special performances from speakers, bands, hometown celebrities, or other VIP status local alumni and heroes.

Graduations, special announcements, and commendations will all be enhanced by having temporary bleachers set up for customized viewing angles and sightlines.

Colleges and universities report decreasing revenues based in part on the decline of user-generated income of their provided facilities. By providing a better and more customized user experience, those visitors will make their way back to those facilities knowing that the facility will do everything possible to make the spectator comfortable, safe, and wanted.

Having enough aluminum bleachers properly installed, giving every spectator a safe place to sit with a proper line of sight will create a memorable user experience and a reason to return to the college or university’s facilities for additional events and functions.

This includes enuring that your aluminum bleachers have the correct number of mandated, code-compliant stairways, aisles, railings, guard systems, and ADA required seats.

By Gerald Dlubala

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