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Stadium Science

Beneath the Ohio Stadium rotunda, Michael Hagenberger (L) and Anthony Massari discuss their respective experiences building stadiums and arenas.

Ask a Buckeye the first thing that comes to mind when you say "Saturdays in autumn" and she will likely respond "football." 

During each home game, thousands of fans pack Ohio Stadium and the surrounding areas to cheer their beloved Buckeyes on to victory. An Ohio State home game provides opportunities for enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite sport, for friends and family to spend time together and for alumni to reconnect with the university.

For Michael Hagenberger and Anthony Massari, these athletic contests also offer the professors of practice an opportunity to discuss their experiences designing and building arenas and stadiums with students.

Dr. Massari, an assistant professor of practice and director of CEGE's civil engineering capstone program, complimented Ohio Stadium's time-tested design. "Most modern stadiums follow the traditional design of the 'Shoe," he explained. Upper and lower bowls of seating combine with boxes, suites and concourses in what is essentially a series of independent structures. Formal entrances like Ohio Stadium's rotunda and terminal towers are single, stationary units that frame the other seating elements. Massari noted that many modern stadium designs such as AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX) and U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, MN) included roofing systems. "Many new stadiums that aren’t built with roofs today have plans and/or additional capacity in their structure to add roofs at a later date," he explained. Massari explained that this concept was not that dissimilar to how the second level of the George Washington Bridge (NYC) was built after the bridge was in service for approximately 30 years.

Buckeye fans pack Jesse Owens Memorial Plaza, which sits north of Ohio Stadium.Both professors said that planners of modern facilities must focus even more on establishing a suitable location for the arena to facilitate safe travel to and from events. "How you you get people in and out?" Dr. Hagenberger asked. He noted that safety was always at the forefront in the minds of the designers as well as those crews tasked with building the structure. "In building MetLife Stadium (NJ)," Massari recalled, "it was critical to provide light rail access to the stadium." This made travel to the fairly remote stadium site from neighboring New York City more efficient while minimizing the environmental impact on  surrounding neighborhoods.


Hagenberger, who assisted with the building of PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN, among others, stated that his experience in the field helped him learn about how the objectives of his job affected those of other collaborators on the project. "It's where I learned about relationship building and how to be a thoughtful engineer," he said. "Being able to see how designs became reality actually changed the way I would design future projects."

The Ohio State University Marching Band performs "Script Ohio" during a night game in the 'Shoe.In fact, Hagenberger delayed his enrollment in graduate school so that he could see the PNC project to its conclusion. "I was supposed to go to North Carolina for six months. I spent over a year in Raleigh," he recalled. Looking ahead to his career as an educator, he knew that there was much knowledge to gain, on-site, of not only the structural design and engineering aspects of the project but of its geotechnical and environmental engineering elements as well. "Now, those are the experiences I pass along to my classes."

Massari, whose other projects included Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, said that these large-scale projects are different from his other work in building high-rise buildings. "Both act as incredible aggregators of people," he said. "The amazing thing about arenas is that you can see all of the participants, how everyone interacts with and enjoys the facility all at once."  

Tags: Faculty