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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

JVEM Vol. 4, Iss. 1

November 2012

The Historic Structure Report: A Tool for the Renovation, Reconstruction, Restoration, and Rehabilitation of Sport Facilities

  • Chad Seifried, Ph.D., Louisiana State University

The purpose of this article was to explain and communicate to sport owners, administrators, managers, and academics that possess limited experience in the creation of a Historic Structure Report (HSR), the general components of that document, the process of its creation, and the benefits of pursuing the activities associated with its completion. Through this effort, the researcher aimed to facilitate its acceptance as a valuable activity for facility management projects and student researching and writing. In addition, a HSR is a useful and alternative activity to help guide decisions prior to and during renovation, reconstruction, restoration, and rehabilitation efforts. This work was framed based on a position that historic properties, like sport facilities, are irreplaceable representatives of the past and the Historic Structure Report serves to expedite the beginning of work on those venues.

Those engaged in the preservation of buildings ... should proceed only from a basis of knowledge. Too often in the past, the cultural integrity of countless buildings ... has been compromised by approaches to restorations grounded on personal whim, willful romanticism, and expedient notions of repair ... The preparation of a historic structure report is the first step in adopting a disciplined approach to the care of a historic building (Mesick, Cohen, Waite, & Hall Architects, 1988, p. Introduction, ¶2).

In 1935, Charles E. Peterson of the National Park Service completed the first Historic Structure Report (HSR) on The Physical History of the Moore House, 1930–1934; a site used during the Yorktown surrender of the English in the American War for Independence. Since 1935, many other Historic Structure Reports and similar studies have been completed on a variety of venues throughout the United States and other countries for the purpose of managing historic properties and planning new activities in those buildings through restoration, renovation, reconstruction, and / or rehabilitation (Biallas, 1982; Schmitt, 2007; Slaton, 2005; Spiers, 1982). The list of historic properties includes a variety of structures that act as important civic monuments and features of a city or community such as museums, clock towers, theaters, churches, opera halls, state capitols, courthouses, lighthouses, and hotels. Interestingly, Historic Structure Reports have also been completed on a variety of sport and recreation venues. For example, the Rose Bowl (Frank, Jones, & Stokes, 2005/2007; Gazzar, 2011; Historic Resource Group, 1997; 2004), the University of California’s Memorial Stadium (Siegal & Strain, 1999), the Stable and Riding Arena of Will Rogers State Park (2002), fish hatcheries at Yellowstone National Park (Sievert & Sievert, 2008), and the Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club Boathouse (Stillner, 2005), along with other sport and recreational properties (e.g., gymnasiums, field houses, park and recreation centers, pools, etc.) all received attention through a Historic Structure Report.

Variations in Historic Structure Reports exist for each of the different venues but many similarities or components are shared by each. For instance, all Historic Structure Reports: a) catalog critical information related to the building’s history, changes, and maintenance records; b) address ownership or management goals for the new construction effort; c) guide a thoughtful selection of the most sensible and appropriate treatments to achieve organizational and operational objectives; and d) outline the scope of the proposed work in addition to the cost of those activities (Slaton, 2005). The purpose of this article is to explain and communicate to sport owners, administrators, managers, and academics that possess limited experience in the creation of a Historic Structure Report, the general components of that document, the process of its creation, and the benefits of pursuing the activities associated with its completion.

The Historic Structure Report as presented in this research paper possesses two end-goals: 1) to facilitate its acceptance as a valuable research activity for facility management projects and student and/or employee training; and 2) endorse its usefulness as an alternative activity to help guide decisions prior to and during renovation, reconstruction, restoration, and rehabilitation efforts. In essence, the Historic Structure Report is promoted by this work as a useful document ready to embrace new and old information for the preservation and protection of sport and recreation venues. Furthermore, this work advocates that the completion of the historical narrative and summary on the evolution of the building are critical for the creation of specific recommendations which best appreciate the political, social, cultural, and/or financial significance of prospective reconstruction, preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation efforts.

Although much documentation already exists regarding preserving and managing historic properties-understandably with all of the historical associations and conservation/preservation societies that exist- no literature has been prepared for the sport management and sport history communities on the components of the Historic Structure Report for sport and recreation venues despite the fact that they are also structures included and featured in lists of historic properties. For instance, in the United States, the National Registrar of Historic Places (NRHP) recognized several sport and recreational facilities that merit protection. Specifically, they branded: a) field houses (i.e., Butler Field House); b) stadiums (e.g., Tiger Stadium, Harvard Stadium, etc.); c) coliseums (e.g., Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum); d) bowls (i.e., Yale Bowl); e) racetracks (i.e., Indianapolis Motor Speedway); f) golf courses (i.e., Oakmont Country Club); and other popular sport venues as “objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture” and worthy of protection and preservation (NRHP, n.d., p.1). 

Similarly, the Flavian Amphitheatre (i.e., Roman Coliseum), the Panathenian Stadium in Athens, and the hippodrome of Jerash, Jordan exist as ancient structures that received protection. Multiple football (i.e., soccer), rugby, and cricket venues also exist throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and South America as protected properties. Specifically, sport and recreation structures have been recognized as important historical venues by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and their host country. Table 1 represents a small sample of those venues which exist as pre-1950 stadiums recognized by either FIFA or the IOC as important structures that received careful and respectful attention during renovation efforts. 

Table 1: Sample List of pre-1950s Stadiums Receiving Renovation Treatments

Stadium Location Year Built
Lord's Cricket Grounds London, England 1814
Melbourne Cricket Grounds Melbourne, Australia 1854
Anfield Road Liverpool, England 1892
Eden Park Auckland, New Zealand 1900
Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium Istanbul, Turkey 1908
Twickenham Stadium Twickenham, England 1909
Old Trafford Manchester, England 1910
Sparta Stadium Prague, Czech Republic 1918
San Siro Stadium Milan, Italy 1926
Ellis Park Stadium Johannesburg, South Africa 1928
Estadio Centenario Montevideo, Uruguay 1930
Berlin Olympic Stadium Berlin, Germany 1936
Rashunda Stadium Solna, Sweden 1937
Santiago Bernabeu Madrid, Spain 1947
Estadio do Maracana Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1950

Many organizations or societies supporting the cost and completion of the Historic Structure Report may require the information it collects to validate historical claims, develop work recommendations, and complete or verify cost projections prior to any building renovation, restoration, or rehabilitation effort (Schmitt, 2007; Slaton, 2005). Owners of sport facilities should be interested in this research report because sport facilities have been similarly presented as important venues toward the identification of a city and have been identified as historical landmarks or buildings regionally and nationally (Bale, 2003; Erickson, 2001; Gammon, 2002; Newman, 2001; Segrave, 2001; Seifried, 2010a). Academics and instructors in sport management and history should also find interest in this work because it: a) serves as another tool upon which to communicate respect for the nature of work (i.e., tangible structures); b) informs students interested in facility management or sport venue construction and consulting about a unique job possibility (i.e., HSR researcher); and c) creates conditions to support the value of historical research in the preparation of renovation, restoration, reconstruction, and rehabilitation activities. Finally, these building activities may come to dominate the landscape of sport venues in the future with the increased likelihood that sport venues built today were constructed to last more than 20–30 years and the growing resistance to public subsidy for new construction efforts (Seifried, 2010a).

The Archival Search and Field Examination

Property owners of sites, identified or assigned historical status, often commission such reports to address concerns related to a building’s physical state (i.e., deterioration of physical structure and interior elements) and surrounding environment prior to construction efforts. The standardized format for the Historic Structure Report in the United States first began in 1957 when director of the National Park Service Conrad L. Wirth introduced the following sections as critical and common components: a) Administrative Data; b) Historical Data; c) Architectural Data; d) Archaeological Data; e) Landscape Data; and f) Furnishings and Exhibits (Biallas, 1982; Schmitt, 2007; Wirth, 1957). This was later refined in subsequent 1971 and 1981 postings when the United States Department of the Interior reduced the number of sections (e.g., Administrative Data, Physical History and Analysis, and Appendix) to resemble the format still used today (U.S. Department of Interior, 1971; 1981). The administrative data section involves the recording of the building’s purpose, identification of current and potential tenants, proposed use for a preserved, restored, reconstructed, or rehabilitated structure, and cost estimates for those intended treatments or construction activities. The physical history and analysis section requires researchers to document critical information related to the building construction, engineering notes and reports, a history of the various assessments, renovations, and construction efforts on the building, and recommendations for future use. The appendix, like in most other works, includes bibliographies, reports of data collected related to the research topic, and other useful information identified as potentially important to the report. For instance, other information like drawings or renderings, photographs, architectural designs or plans, specification sheets, and repair and maintenance schedules would also be included in the appendix.

The Historic Structure Report begins with the use of archival research related to the original construction, occupants, activities, and documented changes to the facility of study. Some of these items can be secured at the archive collection at the Library of Congress labeled the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER). For university campus buildings and other civic monuments (i.e., sport venues), public and university libraries will most likely house the best and most relevant archival material. A sport organization itself can also act as a great resource for such investigations. These types of resources may possess important records such as original architectural plans, real estate purchase orders/deeds, building permit applications, fire insurance maps, renovation and new construction additions, and other repair documents. Organizational documents, letters, press releases and other information-laden materials may also serve as invaluable assets in developing an accurate picture of the evolution of the sport venue. Photographic collections (i.e., actual and digitized) further serve as valid instruments which can contribute to this pursuit. Overall, much like other academic work, the Historic Structure Report is based on the incorporation and attachment of any critical historical documents and technical data necessary. Furthermore, it is useful toward helping the broad and careful management of a new building proposal.

Following the archival search, field examinations appear as another critical part of creating the Historic Structure Report. Generally, field examinations begin with a complete visual survey of a building’s physical spaces and surrounding environment to update the record on its current condition and various components. The visual inspection should be supported with a checklist of items (Table 2) specific to similar buildings to help develop an accurate view regarding the building’s integrity (i.e., condition of exterior and interior materials and finishes) and working systems (i.e., mechanical, heating, ventilation/air conditioning, electrical, security, plumbing/water systems; sewage; and fire safety). In some instances, existing or surviving fire insurance documents can provide much of this information and detail any changes to the building over time. Environmentally, the information gathered should focus on changes to the surrounding venues, streets, landscape, etc., and any vegetation or wildlife special to the area.

Field examination and tours of buildings on some occasions may involve intrusive testing of the venue’s construction materials, essential systems (e.g., pool filtering and water pump house), and various attached and unattached equipment. Non-intrusive examinations include items like weather gauging (e.g., temperature and humidity inside the building), x-ray machines or stud finders to find potentially hidden metal objects/structures, and accelerometers to measure building vibration. Intrusive tests may involve structural testing and the sample recovery of exposed areas (e.g., crack and fissures) and building materials. Field notes, photographs (comparing new and old), and the various tests suggest recognition of deterioration, potential salvage, and/or new construction appear as the primary themes of concern as they can help with the selection of new treatments for the proper repair or replacement of the facility. Furthermore, they can assist the identification of hazardous materials and environmental dangers which need to be carefully removed from the venue such as mold and mildew, asbestos, lead paint, mercury, and other toxic chemicals generally associated with roofing materials, walls, insulation, and other areas of sport complexes. This is in addition to the protection of any vegetation or wildlife which might also surround the venue.

It should be noted that the historical and technical information collected to help the preservation, restoration, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of historic venues is typically the result of work completed by a team or group and presented collectively as an integrated whole. The complex nature of the Historic Structure Report clearly requires a multi-disciplinary approach and necessitates the incorporation of a variety of team members. For example, material specialists, historians, architects, engineers, landscape artists, sport archivists, consultants, and potentially students (e.g., undergraduate or graduate) may serve as important team members. From this information, the Historic Structure Report presents a great opportunity to: a) acclimate students to field research and its associated activities; b) support the collection of data from a variety of resources and stakeholders as representative of legitimate and valid work; c) understand the value of team work toward the realization of organizational goals and objectives; and d) recognize the contribution of history toward the visualization and conceptualization process of new construction activities.

Selecting the Appropriate Treatment Approach or Work Recommendations

Following the completion of the background or history investigation and the field examination on the building, the research team will begin to assess and create a treatment proposal for the venue’s new activities. The various team members will collectively make recommendations to restore, reconstruct, rehabilitate and/or preserve buildings or sites based on the information they collected, the preferences or goals of their client, and the recognition of the historic site as a building or area famously connected to public consumption or interaction. However, before a recommendation can occur, an appreciation for the differences between preservation, reconstruction, restoration, and rehabilitation as part of renovation must emerge.

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties serves as a suitable resource to help distinguish between the four interrelated concepts (Weeks & Grimmer, 1995). For example, preservation was defined as the “act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property” (Weeks & Gimmer, p. 16). Rehabilitation was supported as the “act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alternations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values” (p. 60). Restoration was identified as the act or process of “accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period (p. 116). Finally, reconstruction was identified as the act or process of “depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location” (p. 164). Understanding the difference between these concepts is critical to the completion of a successful report, building outcome, and the appreciation of the impact that budget and fund raising issues impose.

Table 2: Field Examination Items to Capture for Pool (Sample)

  • Pool and Building Structure:
    • Shape, Length, Width, and Volume of the pool (i.e., gallons)
    • Range of pool depth
    • Construction materials (e.g., brick, tile, plastic, etc.)
    • Maximum Capacity
    • Building Vibration
    • Condition of Building Facade (Cracks and Fissures)
      • Artistic Elements
  • Pool and Building Condition:
    • Pool Interior (e.g., materials inside pool, steps, tiles, drains, temperature, etc.)
    • Pool Exterior (e.g., materials outside pool, tiles, gutters / skimmers, temperature, etc.)
    • Fencing and Space Surrounding Pool:
      • Height of fencing
      • Physical Space on Pool Deck (i.e., Fence to Water Entry)
  • Night / Lighting fixtures
    • Type and Description
    • Location
  • Pump House:
    • Circulation / filtration Room and Location
    • Pump System Identification and Piping Materials
    • Chemical Systems
    • Location of drain(s)

To make appropriate recommendations, the research team should identify budget and fund raising concerns or limitations. The likelihood of completion based on the potential budget is not generally part of the consideration of the research team but they are responsible for estimating the potential costs associated with their recommendations based on other acceptable points of reference and recruited estimates. Speculating about possible funding sources for the proposal or alternatives is also necessary during this stage of creating the report. For instance, significant rehabilitation, reconstruction, preservation, and/or restoration activity will likely require an aggressive fundraising campaign versus a less ambitious attempt for smaller construction efforts aimed at preserving the building for current residents.

decisions. As an example, The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (Weeks & Grimmer, 1995) have been frequently used over the last several years during the decision-making process about preservation, rehabilitation, renovation, reconstruction, and restoration options for various historical buildings. Such guides have served as excellent references and helped research teams and students engaged in training or classroom projects understand the importance and need to establish a standard point of comparison to support their projections and communicate confidence in their effort.

The specific work recommendations or treatments should be aimed at the overall project goal(s) and help to establish the future course of action related to the building. In essence, this portion of the report establishes if the building should be restored, rehabilitated, reconstructed, preserved, or some combination of those. This section of the report should cite specific laws, rules, building codes, or any other applicable policies (i.e., point of reference) necessary to accommodate current safety regulations, energy initiatives, and disabled populations as part of the rationale or explanation for specific construction choices. The projected budget proposed in this section should also offer a recommendation as to whether or not the building activity should be completed in phases. Again, the team’s primary objective is to create a report based on the goals of the client. The client can rank and select the recommendations based on their own timetable and preferences. Prioritizing short-term or long-term items can be part of the project team’s agenda if instructions are provided by the client. Without the level of detail provided by adding a Historic Structure Report to a feasibility project, any recommendations would be limited because the base or foundation for any specific planning activities and/or design could be incomplete and illegitimate. Furthermore, a cost-effective phasing in process of different building activities could be eliminated from consideration. 

Obviously, it is imperative that the historic structure project team meet during these critical phases in the research process and then later when recommendations for the proposal are being created. Again, the team should meet during the archival portion of the research endeavor, the field examination, and possibly with building personnel to review those documents discovered to ensure that important and potential resources were not overlooked. Following this, they should meet to generate dialogue and ideas related to the property’s building prospects and still later come together to review the draft of the document prior to its presentation to the client organization. Clearly, the value of team work is well supported through these activities along with an appreciation for the collection of resources from a variety of stakeholders. The practice of visualization and conceptualization is also strong along with recognition that budget and fund raising concerns could impose on project realization.

Finally, it should be noted the cost of creating such a report and recruiting personnel (i.e., team) to study a building varies in price and time commitments. Smaller projects may require fewer people and less time while larger, more complex reviews, will involve more specialists and command more time. The average time commitment for sport and recreation venues can fluctuate greatly (i.e., 1 month to 1 year) along with the price. To provide a financial figure for such a research endeavor, the Huey P. Long Field House on the campus of the Louisiana State University (LSU) can be highlighted. Recent renovation versus new construction debates in 2007 and 2011 provided cost estimates for the feasibility portion of the entire $20–25 million project to range from $40,000 to $50,000 (“H.P. Long Field House,” 2007; E. David, personal communication, June 26, 2011). Emmett David, LSU’s Facility Development Director and Head of the Deferred Maintenance Program suggested such cost and time commitments are dependent upon the organization or client goals and the square footage of the complex. In the case of the nearly 100,000 square foot Huey P. Long Field House, the potential changes are on par with other university recreation facility construction projects. For example, the National Intramural Recreation Sports Association (2008) identified the average university sport and recreation project costs $20.8 million and consumes about 89,000 square feet.

The Sections and Format of the Historic Structure Report

As noted above, the Historic Structure Report is generally comprised of the following sections: a) administrative data; b) a description of the physical history and building analysis; and the c) appendix. However, these are, as stated, simply sections or a way to categorize information. Several other more specific points of interest or subsections into the various categories should be included to demonstrate a more specific way to arrange information for an adequate presentation of the data, conclusion, and proposal. Below is a summary of the general information included in the average Historical Structure Report (Table 3). Again, each report is unique due to its distinctive and inimitable qualities.

First, following a cover page, table of contents, and executive summary, the Historic Structure Report starts with an introduction on the developmental history of the venue. Specifically, the historical background begins with a brief but detailed description of the venue’s construction history, selection of architects, financing methods, and site preparation plans. This information is then placed within the context of the local environment or master planning activities. As an example, the Historic Structure Report on California Memorial Stadium included a subsection on the placement of the building within athletics and university life as part of the University of California-Berkeley’s master campus building plan (Siegal & Strain Architects, 1999). Next, the historical background requires a description of the events and people associated with the structure throughout its lifespan. It is common for this subsection to utilize time periods or eras to communicate the activities of significance that were enjoyed in the historic venue.

The physical description of the building and modifications over time will also be incorporated into this area of the report. Changes to the façade and roof, building circulation patterns (e.g., vertical and horizontal), heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) accommodations, seating arrangements, and other building spaces are frequently the result of human activities, consumer preferences, and technological changes that take place in the world (Seifried, 2010a). Systematically, recording these features, the materials they used, and resulting spaces with respect to the age, historical significance, and causes of deterioration is critical to account for any concerns related to the potential changes to the structure and the decision to renovate, restore, or rehabilitate. Again, archival searches and field examinations are used to support the creation of this section and the overall developmental history of the historic structure. 

The subsequent section of the Historic Structure Report should focus on the proposal or treatment activities aimed toward the ultimate purpose or use of the building and how these changes adequately preserve the historic quality or character of the building. The narrative created here is based and supported by the information presented in the proceeding section and the goals of the client/ purpose for the investigation. The ultimate treatment recommendations (i.e., proposal) are a result of this information and the collective effort of the team to analyze the data. Meeting or communicating regularly throughout the process, the team creates their recommendations and outlines or frames them within the context of applicable laws, rules, and functional limitations which comply with the preservation of historic properties. Within this area of the report, concerns for human safety, energy conservation, disabled attendee accessibility, and hazardous material abatement are also acknowledged. Finally, time considerations (i.e., length of building activities) and the financial breakdown or expectations (e.g., operational costs, construction costs, fund raising potential, and revenue projections) are included to analyze the planned or recommended treatment activities. Projected sources of revenue may also be included in this section. Many reports include a section on alternative treatment activities (i.e., Plan B) as an approach to complete the project. Some recommendations further include a phasing in process of building activities or possibly a completely different treatment program to realize completion of the project. Frequently, this section of the report is accompanied by graphic drawings or computer renderings to showcase the potential look of the new venue.

Finally, the references and appendix sections will serve as the end of the document. This section again supports much of the technical data introduced and commented on in the previous sections and acts to provide visual support to the various points of emphasis provided. Specifically, the appendix data will present field notes, correspondence with important construction personnel, financial spreadsheet/cost projections, specification sheets, and repair or maintenance schedules. It will also offer the points of reference or comparison used for the creation of the report. In the end, it will serve as a visual reservoir for graphs, tables, architectural plans, artistic drawings, computer generated renderings, and photographs.

Table 3: Sample Format to a Historic Structure Report

    • Purpose of Research Endeavor and Objectives of Proposal
    • Background and Situation Assessment
      • Placement of Historic Structure in Historic Core or Community
        • Architecture and Facade
      • Identification of Stakeholders and Definition of Roles
      • Events and Activities within Building
      • Current Managers of Building Space(s)
    • Facility Description
      • Physical Description of Current Building Spaces and Integrity of Structures
      • Existing Site, Landscape, and / or Architectural Plan(s)
      • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance
      • Environmental Concerns / Compliance
      • Vehicular Access, Parking, and Traffic Management
      • HVAC, Electrical, and Plumbing
    • Detailed Proposal of New Building Plan and Rationale for Changes
      • Focus of Plan (i.e., education, recreation, athletics, community activities, revenue, or some combination or all of the above)
      • Plan “B”
      • Key Elements to Highlight or Innovations
      • Identify if the Work is Renovation, Restoration, and / or Rehabilitation
      • Manager of Building Spaces
    • Identification of Stakeholders Involved with Project
    • Changes that Need to be Made (Minimum and Maximum)
    • ADA, Environmental, and Zoning Compliance
    • Vehicular access and parking
    • Role of New Facility in Enhancing Campus Community and Baton Rouge
    • External Factors as Barriers to Proposal
    • Cost Estimate and Sources of Funding
      • Construction Costs
      • Annual Operational and Maintenance Costs
      • Potential Sources and/or Partners for Financing
      • Identify Points of Reference/Comparison
      • Financing Strategies and Likelihood of Success
    • Management Assessment on Revenue Potential
      • Identify Potential Revenue Streams
      • Long-term Revenue Potential of Venue
      • Photographs
      • Drawings
      • Tables
      • Charts

Benefits from the Historic Structure Report

Completing a Historic Structure Report offers multiple potential benefits. First, the preparation of this document can provide a significant record of discovery for future investigations and / or projects on a building related to potential changes or redevelopment of the venue with respect to its historic membership in the fabric of a community. The 2011 renovation of the Rose Bowl serves as an example of this point (Gazzar, 2011). Specifically, the current project utilized the information provided by the previous Historic Structure Reports to maintain important features of that historic venue. Plans involving improvements for the entrance/ exit, concourse capacity, restroom fixtures, seating capacity/arrangement, and concession stands were augmented by information collected in previous Historic Structure Reports. Technological advancements such as new high-definition video boards, press box accommodations, and premium seating options were also more easily accommodated to help maintain the Rose Bowl’s historic character while meeting the goal of the renovation which was to improve the comfort for spectators and better entertain corporate partners / donors.

Other large work projects would similarly benefit from the creation of a Historic Structure Report because it serves as a valuable planning tool toward the proper and adequate understanding of how to preserve, restore, reconstruct, and/or rehabilitate a building to meet a future vision but with respect to the past to avoid inappropriate changes or alterations that could damage the building’s historical and social integrity. The cases of Fenway Park and Soldier Field serve as adequate contrasts to demonstrate this point.

During a recent tour of Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox personnel described their nearly $100 million renovation, restoration, and rehabilitation investment between 2003 and 2011 to be the result of a detailed investigation into the ballpark’s history and needs of the Boston Red Sox franchise. Boston Red Sox President and Chief Operations Officer Larry Lucchino specifically mentioned the organization took great care to consider all types of construction activities so that Fenway Park “could be viable [e.g., financially, structurally, and culturally] for another 40 years” (Ballou, 2008, p.B1). Efforts to improve the venue included the completion of a series of reports on the various elements described above to create a Historic Structure Report. Specifically, the Red Sox gathered information on the history of the ballpark, its past renovation and maintenance efforts, various engineering and technical specifications, and other administrative information which centered on the financial needs of the Red Sox and the potential costs any new renovation or rehabilitation efforts would impose socially or financially.

The consideration shown by the Red Sox committed them to both short-term and long-term construction activities which included: a) increasing the width of most seats and the concourse behind Section 16 along the 1st base line; b) creating new seating sections above the most notable and historic feature of the ballpark, the Green Monster; c) installing new high-definition video boards in centerfield and LED screens within the ballpark perimeter; d) replacing the field with a modern drainage and heating system; e) expanding the team clubhouse, weight room, media, and physical therapy/training areas; and f) refurbishing the cherry trees and historic street lamps on surrounding Lansdowne Street (Boston Red Sox Tour, personal communication, July 2010). Determining what these changes would cost was difficult but necessary. Using points of reference from other facility preservation, restoration, reconstruction, and rehabilitation efforts and identifying the needs of the Red Sox franchise and community, the Fenway Park renovation team was able to establish a general figure for costs and benefits (e.g., financial and social). Specifically, the available budget, building significance, future or planned activities in the venue, general size and architectural character, and current physical state were the primary areas for consideration and the eventual recommendations. The process of examining historical records and merging that information with on-site data in this manner helped the Red Sox make architectural, engineering, and management decisions related to development of the new building features that respected the building’s place in the Boston community while still helping to realize organizational goals. 

Despite the success of the Red Sox and other organizations in their renovations, the same consideration was not demonstrated in Chicago when Soldier Field was renovated and reconstructed. Soldier Field’s historic qualities were damaged by the Chicago Park District (owner of the venue) when it allowed that building to be changed in 2003. Specifically, the modernization of Soldier Field invited the designers to destroy the fabric and ambiance of the old venue to benefit the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) through revenue generating features which did not respect the building’s historical integrity or character within its local environment. Originally built in 1926 for $13 million, a new 61,500- seat $660 million multi-tiered cantilever bowl was incorporated into the venue through an asymmetrical shape to support a wider and more luxurious concourse (i.e., full of concessions, restrooms, and retail opportunities).

The asymmetrical shape and excessive glass surface appears out of place and spoiled the look of the venue because the facility continued to support the famous Doric colonnades and exhibition halls outside the perimeter of the venue. Stretching along the east and west sides of the venue, the 136 cast stone Doric colonnades in particular provided the original structure with a unique quality. For instance, the cast stone construction material was meant to resemble heavy granite and surfaced similar to other great buildings of the time completed by the Benedict Stone Company (Johnson & Lee, 2004). The Benedict Stone Company, supplier of cast stone and construction materials to over 100 buildings in the United States, Canada, and Australia between 1919 and 1930, formed the visible elements of Soldiers Field and its interiors to honor soldiers participating in World War I (Doyle, 1991). However, the 133 luxury suites, several thousand club seats, and an underground parking garage added to the venue in 2003 served to eclipse the historic character of the venue and its surroundings at Chicago’s famous Grant Park. Curved steel and glass luxury seating structures along with the third tier of seating towered above the colonnades on the marina (i.e., Lake Michigan) and city side of the facility respectively. Combined, these additions ruined the basic look of the outer façade and positioned the facility to look as if a spaceship landed inside of the old stadium. 

Changing or destroying the original fabric of the building led a 10-member federal advisory team, in September of 2004, to unanimously recommend that Soldier Field lose its designation as a United States National Historic Landmark. The report, prepared by Carol Ahlgren, an architectural historian at the National Park Service, basically insinuated that allowing Soldier Field to keep their prestigious National Historic Landmark status would damage the inherent integrity of that program and the distinction that other historical monuments possess because the construction process provided only a token and false sense of the venue’s past (Dardick & Washburn, 2004). Former National Park Service Interior Secretary Gale Norton also added the panel’s recommendation proscribed that people should think better prior to major construction efforts on landmark properties because Soldier Field no longer retained a sense of the 1920s and 1930s which it noted on its 1985 application for Landmark status as one of its unique characteristics. On February 17, 2006 Soldier Field finally lost the Landmark designation because of the outcome and focus of its negotiations.

The search for revenue production, like that pursued within Chicago, is frequently cited as an opponent to historic conservation and preservation efforts (Eggert, 2007). Similar bias and preference for revenue generation in sport facilities should also lead us to believe mistakes can be made. The loss of landmark status is significant because of all the benefits that are bestowed to those buildings identified as national landmarks. The Department of the Interior identified such benefits to include: a) special federal funding opportunities for maintenance and renovation; b) top funding priority in Presidential declared disasters; c) special competitive status in grant and loan opportunities; d) protection against potentially adverse effects from other construction projects; and e) enhanced overall property value (Slaton, 2005).

Student Training and the Historic Structure Report

Outside the functional benefits the Historic Structure Report provides organizations and the renovation of buildings, the actual activities listed above required to complete the Historic Structure Report also appears quite useful for the academic training of students. Participation in historical based work, such as the Historic Structure Report, should be viewed as a rigorous scholarly activity which matches the call of scholars to expand our methods and presentation of research and review the impact context imposes on sport more clearly (Seifried, 2010b). The Historic Structure Report is time consuming because it requires the collection of extensive data or information but when provided as a class activity it allows students to participate as members of a team for an efficient project. The search, analysis, and synthesis of information from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources through archival searches and field examinations benefits students because it exposes them to different resources and tools to complete a research endeavor, requires them to work in teams, and prompts them to think about the future while respecting the past. The notion and importance of ‘context’ is well supported through this activity which notably de Wilde, Seifried, and Adelman (2010) and Seifried (2010b) suggested is underappreciated in many sport management curriculums. Understanding other perspectives is generally encouraged through this activity and combined this helps make students better scholars and better potential employees because they are exposed to more resources and perspectives to help them answer questions critical to the field and their profession.

The various sections and requirements of the Historic Structure Report educate students that they must stay flexible and adapt to changes in society. It can also help change the way students analyze situations, present their results, and listen or view materials. The activity of retrieving information for the archival review and field examination, in particular, can prohibit the formation of inaccurate conclusions, poor proposals, and irresponsible changes to a venue, as highlighted above with Soldier Field. The importance of comparing the historical record to the present can also be supported through a sophisticated approach that involves more access and navigation opportunities with critical databases and archival collections. Together, these research activities help students learn more about the historic property and other items they may desire to study in depth in the future. Again, university archives and local libraries, in particular, store tremendous amounts of useful data regarding buildings within their community to help with this type of project.

Finally, student writing can be improved through participation in a Historic Structure Report. For example, the various sections and subsections expose students to the importance of organization and utilizing a variety of sources for analysis and recommendations. Again, it is the position of this work that students can learn to better appreciate that the evidence they collect helps guide the presentation of results and drives the recommendations of the team. Inductive reasoning also emerges as another benefit of the writing process. Analogies, relationships, and the identification of differences, agreements, and patterns can result from this process to help students write better and communicate significance with findings or projections created by the proposal. The writing portion of this assignment also serves to help eliminate confusion and perhaps conflicting information about historic structures. Thus, through this endeavor students learn to see that they contribute to the historical record and provide opportunities to help responsively preserve the past.


Over the years, a myriad of public events (e.g., political rallies, religious conventions, parades, etc.) and sporting events (e.g., boxing, football, soccer, midget car racing, etc.) occupied time and space within sport venues to the delight of millions. Several different agencies, organizations, and universities utilized a Historic Structure Report, or some version of that, as planning tools to help toward the renovation of their buildings. While each organization is unique with regard to their specific goal(s) for the report, many share the common goal of carefully documenting information about their historic building(s) to provide for better preservation management of the property. The Historic Structure Report serves as the first phase of historic preservation, the creation of a feasibility report, and the articulation of a master plan. Furthermore, it should precede any proposal, redesign, and actual preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction of the historic sport venue. Should work on a historic sport venue proceed without such a report to guide the feasibility and renovation, rehabilitation, and/or restoration effort, some important physical evidence related to the understanding of the history and construction of the building and host community may be lost or destroyed. In essence, the creation of a Historical Structure Report acts to provide and ensure the building received proper treatment prior to actual work on the facility/venue and that the history, importance, and physical condition of the property are adequately respected for future generations.

The need for Historic Structure Reports is primarily based on requirements to understand historic properties as irreplaceable representatives of the past and to expedite the beginning of work on a project. Unique in their presentation, sport venues in particular should consider the Historic Structure Report prior to any new construction effort, planning endeavor, and exploratory investigation because even the most well-intentioned restoration, renovation, reconstruction, or rehabilitation could damage the historic character of a building within its community. Furthermore, without the Historic Structure Report, organizations and municipalities may inaccurately explore and inadequately present the number of possibilities or alternatives which could come from plans to change a venue to meet specific goals and objectives. Minimizing loss of the historical character and financial concerns while maximizing the benefit for all stakeholders and cultural perspectives can be achieved through the Historic Structure Report and its associated activities such as archive research, field examinations, group meetings, and the creation of teams which utilize a variety of individuals with unique talents and training.


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JVEM Editorial Board:
Editor: Mark S. Nagel, University of South Carolina
Associate Editor: John M. Grady, University of South Carolina 
Consulting Editor: Peter J. Graham, University of South Carolina
JVEM Editorial Review Board:
Rob Ammon, Slippery Rock University
John Benett, Venue Management Association, Asia Pacific Limited 
Chris Bigelow, The Bigelow Companies, Inc. 
Matt Brown, University of South Carolina
Brad Gessner, San Diego Convention Center 
Peter Gruber, Wiener Stadthalle, Austria
Todd Hall, Georgia Southern University
Kim Mahoney, Industry Consultant
Michael Mahoney, California State University at Fresno
Larry Perkins, BC Center Carolina Hurricanes 
Jim Riordan, Florida Atlantic University 
Frank Roach, University of South Carolina 
Philip Rothschild, Missouri State University 
Frank Russo, Global Spectrum 
Rodney J. Smith, University of Denver 
Kenneth C. Teed, The George Washington University
Scott Wysong, University of Dallas

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