The “Top Ten” most overlooked items when designing / purchasing a grandstand.

  1. BUDGETING: The majority of designers calculate grandstand seating is based on a price per seat.  This was correct twenty five years ago when all row depths were the same and the industry was manufacturing basically the same product.  Today the price should be based on cost per square foot along with several other factors including handicap requirements, rise per rows, color, materials etc.

  2. TIME:  Ninety percent of all grandstands purchased in the United States are directly controlled by architects.  Eighty percent of these grandstands are bought between late November and April with a completion in August.  What happens when you have the majority of your jobs with the same completion date; you end up with lower quality of product, delays in delivery, longer in field completion and higher pricing.  The astute architect will schedule purchasing between May and October along with a longer completion date.

  3. SOIL CONDITIONS:  Soil conditions are the most overlooked item when it comes to planning a grandstand project.  The majority of grandstand bids ask the bidders to assume a soil bearing capacity of somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 psf.  If the soil test comes back lower then expect delays.  Manufacturers do not start detailing and engineering until a soil report has been completed.  The delays come into play while waiting for a change order from the owner and also meeting with the architect to discuss various options.  An owner should appropriate money for a soil test prior to receiving bids, thus eliminating any surprises.

  4. COLUMN SPACING: The grandstand industry manufacturers their understructures based on a grid.  The column spacing for the grid is 18’ on center side to side spacing and 16’ to 20’ front to back spacing.  When a grandstand is designed outside these parameters then pricing goes up and detailing and engineering time expands.  Manufacturers purchase their steel from a mill in sufficient quantities to be price competitive.  When steel sizes change then they purchase from a warehouse at a higher price.  When the grid changes all the steel and connection points change, thus detailers will spend as much as four times the hours required compared to a standard grid design.

  5. BUILDINGS UNDERNEATH THE GRANDSTAND:  Buildings should be designed around the industries standard column grid parameters in lieu of designing the buildings first and then the grandstand.  By designing the grandstand and buildings in conjunction not only saves money but addresses critical issues such as placement of foundations, column and wall configurations and egress.

  6. DISSIMILAR MATERIALS:  Pre engineered grandstands have two major dissimilar materials; steel and aluminum.  They are designed and engineered for expansion and contraction factors; however when a third or fourth material is added such as block or brick walls then additional criteria needs to be addressed early in the design stage of a project.

  7. VARYING RISE AND RUNS:  Over the last several years various row depths have been incorporated into grandstand designs.  The objective is to have a VIP section at the center of the grandstand with a greater row depth and rise than the wing sections, thus giving the VIP patrons more comfort and the option to have some type of chair seating.  The thinking was that you could get more seats on the wings of the grandstand by using a smaller row depth and therefore spread the cost of the VIP over the total number of seats and reduce the total cost per seat.  From the owners view point this makes economic sense, from a manufacturing view point it makes no sense at all.  A manufacturer looks at this design and sees three separate grandstands; one in the center and one on each side and prices accordingly.  You are always better designing a grandstand with the same rise and depth per row.  If you take the VIP rise and run and design it throughout the grandstand you will always be less in price than varying rise and runs.

  8. PRESS BOXES:  Very little attention is given to pre manufacturer press boxes.  Grandstand manufacturers want to sell grandstands not press boxes.  Press boxes are offered as an option and the majority of the industry will outsource the product to modular building companies.  Codes have changed in the last several years along with restrictions imposed by state governments.  Certain codes require an elevator, fire ratings vary from state to state and many states classify press boxes as industrialized units that must be approved and inspected during the manufacturing process.  Designers will need to spend some time researching which manufacturers have sufficient resources and knowledge to provide a complete grandstand system that includes the press box.

  9. LONG TERM PRICING:  A certain percentage of grandstands are bid along with the general construction of a new school.  These type projects have completion dates that can be as far out as three years and the grandstand portion is one of the last items to be erected.  When you consider that a substantial portion of the materials is aluminum and you cannot future purchase aluminum for more than 12 months it becomes impossible to put a realistic cost to a project and pricing is normally figured at the historical high plus an additional percent or two.  This should be address during the budgeting phase of the project by either figuring an extremely high cost or a savvy designer can incorporate language in the bid documents that could get today’s prices with little or no consequences to the owner.

  10. PERCIEVED OR REAL PROBLEMS / SOLUTIONS:  The grandstand industry is focused on having specific products or manufacturers specified in the bid documents.  The industry, if asked will do the majority of the designers work including design, code interpretation, engineering, CAD drawings, detailed specifications and even bid documents.  All products should be geared toward providing solutions to problems.  Designers need to look at each product that makes up a grandstand and determine if the product solves a real problem or is this just a perceived problem that helps the manufacturer not the owner.




  Sightlines, Inc. AIA_CES Outdoor Aluminum Whitley Manufacturing      

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