Chances are, you’ve seen sports domes for soccer and tennis. Maybe you’ve even heard of a Volleydome. But could you imagine a dome housing a 42-foot tall obstacle tower? How about an Olympic-sized velodrome?
Most domes we create are destined for field sports. But beyond that, the potential uses for air dome are practically endless. Air-supported structures can come in a wide variety of different shapes, sizes and colours, and we’re constantly pushing the boundaries of what air domes can do.
These are some of the creative uses for air domes we’ve helped build over the years (plus, one particularly unique dome we spotted on the far side of the world.)
1. Team USA’s Velodrome Dome
The year was 1983. America needed a cycling venue for the upcoming 1984 Summer Olympic Games. They answered the call with a sprawling, 35-acre facility that would later become an official Team USA Olympic Training Centre.
Today, the campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado is the training grounds for hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Among its facilities is a full-size, 333.3-metre banked cycling track for velodrome events. Within that loop is a second, 200-metre roller sports track.
Colorado Springs gets plenty of precipitation from fall to spring, which restricted cycling and roller sports to the summer — until recently. In 2015, the Training Centre added a massive air-supported structure to protect the grounds from rain and snow.
2. Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports
Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports (BJES) operates some of the leading sports training centres across the USA. Athletes who are lucky enough to visit their Columbus, Ohio location will find a huge air dome packed with 114,000 square feet of unique training spaces.
Among the array of playfields and sports equipment is an impressive, 42-foot tall climbing tower BJES calls The Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a competitive, vertical obstacle course that puts athletes’ physical and mental endurance to the test. It includes a speed climb, ten auto-belays, a fire pole, chimney climbs, cargo nets, and a face-to-face challenge course.
When people think air domes, they tend to picture a soccer dome with vast, clear spans and empty vertical space. BJES, on the other hand, has packed every inch of their dome with awesome athletic challenges. As obstacle course-style events continue to grow in popularity, we expect to see more uses for air domes like this one.
3. Russel Township’s Community Air Dome
Russel, Ontario is a modest place. With a population of just over 16,500, the township doesn’t have the same resources as nearby giants like Ottawa and Gatineau. But they’re a great demonstration of how a single air-supported structure can serve many parts of a community at once.
Russell’s air dome is a multi-use facility. The dome itself houses a track, sports turf, and a gym complete with cardio equipment, weights, and strength machines. The lobby building has a restaurant and conference room.
Residents of all ages use the space to meet, play, and stay physically active. Soon, Russell will be adding a second dome with tennis and pickleball courts (a nod to Canada’s fastest-growing sport).
4. Edmonton Roller Hockey Dome
You don’t have to have seen a game of roller hockey to imagine what it’s like. The game borrows many of the same rules and equipment from ice hockey, including an NHL-size rink with concrete instead of ice.
The Edmonton Sportsdome is home to two such rinks beneath a 60,000 square foot structure. Many roller rinks double as ice-skating rinks in the winter, but the air-supported ceiling allows these rinks to stay safe and dry year-round.
Plus, it has room for all the amenities of a full-size community hockey arena: dressing rooms, referee rooms, a small medical room, and even a restaurant and lounge.