New St. Louis stadium plans were unveiled to the public, as architects envision an NFL facility featuring a brewpub and 30-foot-wide river observation deck surrounded by bike paths and bridges.
The unique stadium site on the Mississippi River is leading HOK Sports architects to design a stadium that will both take advantage of the views as well as protect against flooding. It’s the latest salvo in St. Louis’s attempt to keep NFL football in the city, designed to impress both league owners as well as local politicos who will eventually decide on a funding plan.
In addition, the stadium is designed to be used for more than just the 10 or so NFL games during the course of a season. A brewpub is part of the plan, and it would potentially be open year-round. Fans could approach the stadium by any number of way, with an emphasis on bike and foot traffic.
“This is what’s so cool,” said Eli Hoisington, design principal with St. Louis-based HOK architects. “There’s a trend where everything is luxury, everything is suites now. And we put the general die-hard St. Louis fan front-and-center, embedded in the experience.”
In an exclusive interview with the Post-Dispatch, Hoisington and marketing principal Lance Cage revealed new drawings and details. They described a design process driven by the constraints of the site. Sunken railways required the architects to design bridges spanning the tracks and leading into the stadium. Sloping ground meant rainwater gardens. A busy river necessitated sound and light screens overhead.
The location separates this stadium from other recent builds, Hoisington said. “It’s on the biggest river in the country,” he said. “You’ve got flood plain. You’ve got grade changes. But all of those things, from a design perspective, give us an opportunity to do things that are really, really extraordinary.”
The design has changed in recent months, shifting from a layout heavy on suites and high-end spaces to one where architects seek to connect with the average fans. Whether that will help attract public funding for the project remains to be seen, as there are some legislative leaders firmly against any state aid for the $998-million project — and there’s no commitment from the NFL or the Rams to stay in town, either.
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