TagsEverything Tennis Soccer Components Multi-Sport Domes History Infomation Sports Domes Golf News Volleyball Basketball
TagsEverything Tennis Soccer Components Multi-Sport Domes History Infomation Sports Domes Golf News Volleyball Basketball
Historically, Canada hasn’t exactly been known for its tennis cred. If you thought to name Canada’s Top Ten Sports, tennis probably wouldn’t have made the list - even after naming hockey, lacrosse, baseball, skiing and ice fishing.
But things are changing fast.
Tennis now ranks as the 8th most-played sport in the country, with 6.6 million Canadians hitting the courts last year. The number of frequent plays (meaning people playing four or more times over 12 months) has risen 36%. What’s more, the rise in tennis participation among young Canadians is even stronger, with over 510,000 kids between 6 and 11 taking up the racquet.
Not to mention the growing list of young Canadian tennis superstars like Dennis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassme and Bianca Andreescu. The future of tennis in this country - both professionally and recreationally - looks brighter than ever.
There’s just one little problem: winter. To be specific, it’s the bone-chilling, bus-cancelling, 30ᵒ-below-freezing-style winters we get here in Canada.
Despite popular belief, it’s not impossible to play tennis outdoors in the winter. For tennis diehards, it could even present a bit of a fun challenge. However, most municipalities don’t maintain their outdoor courts in the winter, and the supply of indoor tennis courts is seriously lacking.
Of the 7,500 tennis courts open for use in the warmer months, only 10% get covered with an air dome during the winter. That’s only one covered tennis court for every 50,000 Canadians...and 85% of those courts are in either Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
Why are there so few? The CEO of Tennis Canada, Michael Downey, put it best. “We’re fighting this perception that tennis is a summer sport,” he says in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
That perception might’ve been true once, but times have changed, and 51% of Canadians now say they would play more tennis if they had access to convenient and affordable covered courts nearby.
Michael continues, “Many municipalities aren’t thinking about tennis in the winters – they just think ‘yeah we’ve got some courts, people use them in the summers.’ So we have to change that mindset.”
Cost is another major factor, according to Michael and Tennis Canada. Brick and mortar tennis facilities cost millions of dollars to build, so they’re a tough sell to municipalities.
The good news is, there’s an easier and much more affordable option out there, and Tennis Canada has made it a mission to get municipalities on board. In fact, they’re planning to hit the road and visited 50 cities and towns (armed with a hundred pages of information) to spread the word about a cost-effective way to provide year-round tennis.
As you might have guessed, we’re talking about air-supported domes!
Inflatable domes (also known as ‘bubbles’, which is the term used by Tennis Canada) are incredibly versatile. They can be used to cover tennis courts, soccer fields, or any number of other field sports. We’ve also seen municipalities use them for other community spaces, like gyms, party venues and swimming pools. Just about anything you do outdoors can be done under a dome!
Domes can be permanent or temporary. You could have a year-round tennis bubble that offers air-conditioned play in the summer and warmth in the winter - or, a seasonal dome that covers the court only from fall to spring.
You might wonder what it’s like to play tennis in a bubble. It’s hardly any different from playing on a regular court - the only point of interest is that domes will offer a cooler playing temperature in the summer (since they’re climate-controlled), which can cause the ball to bounce a bit slower. Fortunately, this isn’t a major adjustment and most players can adapt their game quickly!
As for the height of the bubble? Not a problem, unless your game involves hitting the ball dozens of feet in the air and having it rain down on your opponents! You won’t ever have to worry about scraping the ceiling.
Once people see what’s possible with a dome - along with the skyrocketing interest in tennis - we’re confident that more and more municipalities will get on board with building a tennis bubble of their own.
It’s exciting to see Tennis Canada take an active role in promoting the cause across the country. We wish them the very best of luck and our full support!
We’ll leave it at that for now, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to learn more about what air-supported structures can do!
We were recently featured in “World’s Greatest” Episode 266 - The Farley Group Air Supported Structures. With a focus on design, technology, and customer satisfaction, we’re committed to providing only the best air dome structures and ensuring that our customer experiences the best that The Farley Group has to offer. Production: How2Media.
High-school teams from across the region came to the Bradford Sports Dome to play in a one-day qualifier for bocce ball competition
Those are by-words of the Special Olympics, an organization dedicated to changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, through sports. Special Olympics athletes discover new abilities, new skills, and new friendships through competition.
While a sports dome has many benefits, it can be a significant investment (see our white paper on the cost of building a dome.)
Below are some creative ways to fundraise for your dome project so you can to enjoy your sport year-round.
When a group of local businesspeople in Owen Sound, Ontario wanted to erect a dome for the community, they came up with the catchy fundraising name, “Raise the Dome.”
Soon, the Raise the Dome fundraising drive was being covered by local radio stations and donations were pouring in.
Redeemer University in Hamilton, Ontario named their soccer dome fundraising efforts, “The Field for All Seasons Campaign.” They partnered with Ron Foxcroft, a local community leader and founder and CEO of Fox 40 International. Ron Foxcroft invented the Fox 40 pealess whistle, used officially by just about every recognized sports league there is. His involvement brought immediate clout to the project and got their fundraising off to a roaring start.
When Redeemer launched their dome fundraising drive, they didn’t go it alone. They collaborated with the local Ancaster Soccer Club and agreed to share the facility.
The project’s cost was also offset by provincial and federal grants totalling $2.6 million. The city of Ancaster got involved by unanimously approving a $1 million interest-free loan to the school.
The Kelowna United FC headed a similar partnership with the Central Okanagan School District, which wanted to add a second dome facility to share with other sports organizations in the community. The provincial government chipped in with a $350,000 grant to help fund the joint venture.
Big-money sports franchises often sell the naming rights to their arenas and stadiums. This has been happening since 1912 when the stadium owner for the Boston Red Sox also owned a company called “Fenway Reality.” Later, in 1926, chewing gum mogul William Wrigley named the Cubs stadium “Wrigley Field.”
While some bemoan stadium naming sponsorship, it can be a great way to help fundraise your dome!
The Chicago Fire MLS club partnered with The Private Bank for naming rights to their new dome, which features two regulation-sized soccer fields. In addition to the Chicago Fire Juniors team, the dome will be used locally by more than 250,000 people each year.
With the explosive growth of soccer in North America, more and more corporations are wanting to get involved in this form of sponsorship.
BMO Financial Group is not only the sponsor of Toronto FC’s BMO Field stadium but also the club’s state-of-the-art Academy training ground (a dome built by the Farley Group!)
Kelowna United also used the popular “Platinum and Gold Sponsors” method, where individuals and local companies where recognized for their contributions to the Kelowna United Dome project. And hey, you might recognize one of the names of the Platinum Sponsors!
As you read in the above examples, pro sports teams (especially growing pro soccer franchises in North America) are great partners in soccer dome fundraising.
It doesn’t always have to be in the form of major sponsorship, either. For The Field for All Seasons Campaign (still catchy, isn’t it?) MLS Club Toronto FC donated a Jersey signed by each member of their roster. The jersey was put up for auction, which got many individuals excited and involved to donate to the project.
There are many creative ways to fundraise for your dome project. From collaborating with various levels of government, corporations, and local businesses to public and private individuals, pro sports and local sports clubs, there are many ways to get your dome off the ground!
It is not at all uncommon for sports to evolve over time. Sometimes this happens to accommodate changes in technology, requests from players and owners, or a need to deliver what the public now wants from a sport. The latter reason is behind some proposed tennis rule changes announced recently.
The longest professional tennis match took place in 2010. John Isner and Nicholas Mahut battled it out over the course of three days before the former finally triumphed. In all, the contest lasted a staggering 11 hours and 5 minutes.
However, as the Wall Street Journal reported, the actual tennis playing accounted for less than two hours of that time.
With attention spans shortening and so many entertainment options available, there is concern that both current and potential viewers may not watch professional tennis as we know it. The proposed solution? Speed things up.
Association of Tennis Professionals President Chris Kermode feels these suggested changes are, "not only about the next generation of players, but also about the next generation of fans."
"We will be sure to safeguard the integrity of our product when assessing if any changes should eventually be carried forward onto regular ATP World Tour events in the future," he says.
Here are the proposed rule alterations:
The number of seeds would drop from 32 to 16. The idea here is to make the early matches more exciting due to the higher caliber of players. Viewers would become hooked from the beginning and then keep watching right through the championship.
First to six game sets would drop to first to four, with a tiebreaker resolving a 3-3 deadlock. Also, a sudden death deuce point (allowing the receiver to choose their court side) would replace so-called advantage scoring. Sets would be best of five.
Reduced Starting Time
Once the second player steps onto the court, the match must begin in five minutes, down from the previous ten.
Already tested at the U.S. Open qualifying and the Next Gen ATP Finals, this would ensure players adhere to the 25-second rule between serves. The clock would also time the warm-up, set breaks, and medical timeouts.
A no-let rule for serving.
Player and Coach Communication
While communication would still be possible between players and coaches at certain points during the match, the latter could no longer step onto the court.
Electronic Line Calling
There would be only the chair umpire on the court. An electronic line calling system would signal unsuccessful serves and when the ball is out, replacing its human equivalent.
Increased Spectator Freedom
Elimination of the rule restricting spectators from coming or going during a match.
Kermode stated that these alterations should not alienate the current fanbase. A shorter format and faster pace may well stop people from changing channels, but that remains to be seen. If these come to pass, it will certainly be interesting to gauge player reactions, particularly veterans who made their reputations via the traditional form of play.
Changing demographics are also clearly a factor. As the veterans who reliably drew viewers enter retirement, executives hope to attract a younger demographic to the sport. The thinking is that a swifter game, and not just exciting personalities, is key to making that change.
Indoor sport facilities, whether they be air supported or brick and mortar, all have one thing in common: artificial turf.
Grass doesn’t grow inside—unless you have a very sophisticated setup—so artificial grass is the closest you can get.
Turf technology, though, has come a long way to reproducing the actual feel of real grass, so much so that many outdoor fields have opted for artificial over real grass.
But there are still differences between artificial turf and the real thing, so you’ll need to consider these before kitting yourself up for the winter indoor season. Traditional soccer cleats can do damage and without a surface that grows and repairs itself, this is an issue for any indoor sport field maintenance crew.
The shoes you wear on turf need to be gentle on the surface, but still give you the support and balance needed to compete, so here are some tips on picking out the best shoes to play your indoor sport.
1. Buy Actual Turf Shoes
This tip is pretty obvious, but a lot of players still think that their regular sneakers will do just fine on artificial turf. The reality is that actual turf shoes are designed to give you the most grip and manoeuverability on artificial turf surfaces.
Outdoor cleats shouldn’t be worn (and are likely not allowed) on artificial turf as the aggressive spikes can create holes or tears in the turf which then need to be repaired.
Turf shoes will typically have short rubber spikes, instead of cleat spikes, that are grouped closer together. These will bite into the surface and give you the traction you need, without damaging the turf.
Try out a few pairs before buying though, as too much grip can be a bad thing as well. A small amount of slide isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and depending on the sport, you might want to be able to slide around. Like for slide tackling the ball in soccer.
3. Proper fit
As with any shoe, making sure it fits properly is important for comfort and function. Make sure they fit right when you buy them and keep in mind that you won’t need to use thicker socks to keep your feet warm. Playing inside means the temperature won’t be an issue when deciding which footwear to buy and you won’t need to consider any added insulation.
4. Avoid wearing them Outside (If You Can)
While turf shoes might also work well on grass, you may want to avoid wearing them on other hard outdoor surfaces.
Being mostly rubber, you’ll likely wear out the small rubber spikes faster, making them not work as well when you’re back playing on turf.
If you’re going to be playing sports indoors this winter, don’t forget to use the proper gear. Especially if you’re competitive and want to gain an edge, having the proper shoes just might do it.
Indoor sports fields and artificial turf are a great option for playing sports during the winter, but unless you have the right equipment, you might not enjoy the experience as well as you could!
Early in the decision to build an air dome, a common question is, “Is this a good spot for a dome?” Odds are that, yes, you can build an air dome there, and yes, we’ve most likely already done it before.
Whether it be a lone bubble in the middle of an empty field, or a dome squeezed into the heart of a city, domes are remarkably adaptable. Because of the simplicity of the design, it’s actually a lot easier to get a dome into some places than to build something out of steel and bricks.
Dome in the Suburbs
Air supported structures are appealing when you’re looking to build something big. And the best place to build something big is where you have a lot of space. The problem though, is that building something large like an indoor sports complex, can be a challenge.
Big buildings typically need lots of materials, lots of time, and lots of money. This isn’t true for an air supported structure, though. Domes don’t need near as many materials to build. After the foundation is built, the fabric for an air dome takes up very little room at all. This makes them ideal for transporting long distances.
Dome in the City
Modern cities are so jam-packed that it’s hard to fit in anything new, especially when it’s something as big as an air dome. That doesn’t mean we haven’t done it, though.
Air domes work remarkably well in areas that you typically wouldn’t be able to use for very much else. For example, cities need a lot of space for the number of people that flock to them at specific times of year, so why not use that space for a temporary structure when the space isn’t needed?
Parks and sports fields in cities get plenty of use in the summer, but usually those spaces remain unused for the winter. Seasonal domes in cities make perfect sense to make use of precious space throughout the year.
The Farley Group have also squeezed domes into unique spaces that wouldn’t otherwise be used for very much. For example, on top of buildings or under bridges.
New York is one of the biggest cities in the world, so when looking for places to build indoor sport facilities, Farley air domes fit right in. We have completed rooftop installations and even a dome that sits under the Queensboro Bridge, the Roosevelt Island Racquet club.
By thinking outside the box, air supported structures can bring indoor sport to even the most crowded of spaces. And being a non-permanent structure, it leaves flexibility for any reason that you might need.
Still not sure if an air dome can work for you? Have a look through some of the other domes we’ve completed over the years, or better yet, contact us today to find out if we can provide a solution that you might not have ever thought of!
Not sure if it’s worth the investment for an air structure? If you’re mulling it over, or even just wondering why it would be a good idea, here are 5 reasons to install a bubble over your sports field.
1. Cost Effective
For price per square foot of usable space, air domes are one of the best bangs for your buck. Fewer materials and a simplified building process means that you spend a fraction of the cost of a similar size brick and mortar sports facility.
If all you need is a big indoor space to play indoor sports, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more cost-effective solution. For a quick overview of dome pricing, check out our white paper on the topic.
2. Temporary or Permanent
Once the grade beam is in place, installing or taking down an air dome can be done on an as needed basis. Many fields convert to indoor facilities for the winter, and switch back to outdoor fields for the summer.
It’s the best of both worlds.
3. Fully Customizable
Because we need to build each dome to fit the space and requirements of different locations and sports, every dome package is fully customizable. Whether it’s a dome for tennis, or it needs to cover an entire football field, The Farley Group can build it to your needs.
The dome itself can even be customized with logos, colors, signs, or advertisements. Whatever you want to see on the side of the dome, we’ve got you covered!
4. Infinite Uses
Unlike other types of construction, domes can create massive clear span spaces that aren’t obstructed by things like supporting walls or poles. This means you end up with wide open room to do anything that you could think of.
A dome covered soccer field could be used for any number of field sports like field hockey, football, lacrosse, or even dodgeball.
And you might even have some outside-the-box uses such as paintballing or a party space you can fill with games and bouncy castles. Pretty much anything you can do outside can easily translate into a dome!
5. Domes are Cool
Last but not least, one of the best reasons to build an air dome is for the wow-factor. Seeing an air dome inflate for the first time is an impressive thing and is sure to amaze even the most difficult to impress people.
Stepping inside of a dome for the first time is an experience in and of itself. With large domes, it often seems counterintuitive to see such a large indoor space.
So, if you’re unsure of whether a dome might be right for you and one of the above reasons spoke to you, feel free to drop us a line or keep researching our site. We’ve created one of the most informational air dome sites right here, so read on if you’d like to learn more.
Air supported domes provide climate-controlled comfort all-year-round, allowing users to play any sport they like at any time. Of course, this means the playing surfaces have no access to rain or sunlight and, therefore, must be artificial.
However, this does not mean indoor grounds are maintenance-free. Artificial turf requires its own form of special care that also applies when it is used inside domes.
You have probably seen paths worn into parks and other areas where people and bicycles have crossed repeatedly over the same spot. Artificial turf can similarly wear if there is too much repetitive activity, such as training drills where the participant is running back and forth on the field. Proper planning and scheduling ensures these drills do not always take place in the same area of the dome.
2. Regular Inspections
A worn or uneven playing surface can negatively impact almost any kind of sport, so artificial turf requires regular inspections to maintain the integrity and safety of the playing field. Such close observation of the surface can also detect any potential problems before they reach a point where the users’ enjoyment suffers.
While there is no need to worry about leaves, sticks, or other debris, indoor turf still requires periodic cleaning and grooming to maintain a clean, flat surface free of obstructions. Mother Nature cleanses outdoor fields with rain; indoor surfaces need human attention to deal with things that should not be there. Good old-fashioned soap and water will remove things such as soda and coffee stains, alcohol, chocolate, ice cream, and paint. Cleaning solvents can usually handle any tougher stains that remain.
If chewing gum is ground into the surface, it is not just a matter of removing “grass” — those areas require special attention. Freon aerosol spray will help loosen the gum, which then becomes easy to remove without causing damage.
Unlike its outdoor counterpart, it is important to remove stray organic matter from indoor turf to prevent moss growth.
Artificial grass is shipped in large, heavy rolls that cause the turf to become flattened out. Grooming, in this case, does not involve mowing, but rather going over the surface with a power broom. This helps make the turf look robust and like natural grass. During the course of regular use, the turf can again become flat, requiring occasional extra passes with the broom.
There is also equipment available that adds rakes (for leveling the infill) and rotating tines (for aerating, which loosens the infill), providing the best all-around maintenance routine. The amount of times these operations occur each year varies according to manufacturer recommendation. Using a handheld spring-tine rake on the surface can also help level the infill material.
Grooming that takes place at the start of the season often occurs before the bubble goes up simply because it allows the groundskeepers a bit more room to do their job.
Cleaning is also important for health reasons. While certain microbes decompose without issue on real grass, the same does not occur on artificial turf. Commercial cleaners for this purpose are available, though a bleach mixture can also be just as effective. Apply either of these options using a pressurized spray.
Wondering why you’ll need a contractor for your dome project?
If you’re in the early stages of planning the construction of a dome, the process is no different from a traditional construction project. Even though domes go up faster and cost less than most structures, they still require careful planning, precise work, and proper permitting, like any real estate development project. For these tasks, an experienced contractor simply cannot be replaced.
When it comes to building a dome, The Farley Group works closely with your local general contractor or construction manager to get the job done as efficiently as possible. These professionals typically oversee all aspects of construction, and often take the lead on the planning and permitting phases as well.
Hiring a general contractor or construction manager, we know from experience, is the best way to accomplish the site work efficiently. Each project involves numerous steps and specialized work. It’s more than most of our customers can take on themselves, especially without prior construction experience. The task of coordinating the various sub-contractors is always best left to an experienced, professional general contractor.
Here are some of the responsibilities of a contractor in the dome construction process:
Approvals and Permitting
Contractors help get the project off the ground. They lend their experience working under your local by-laws and building codes to help you plan the project, sort out zoning issues, and obtain the necessary building permits. Once these issues are dealt with, the site preparation and construction can begin.
Contractors are also needed to coordinate other local professionals that you’ll need for your project, like architects and engineers. Each municipality has their own unique process, and having the right team of professionals will keep your schedule on track during the planning and permitting phase.
Towards the end of construction, these professionals, including your contractor, also coordinate with the local building authority for required inspections and final approvals for occupancy of your facility.
You need more than an empty space to build a dome. Before construction begins, your contractor will handle the excavation and balancing of the building site, along with any site remediation necessary to ensure the land is safe to build on.
Once all permits and approvals are in place, construction on site can begin. Your general contractor or construction manager will oversee all site work, including the concrete grade beam anchoring system for the dome, the sub-base for the interior surface, and the concrete pads for the dome’s entry/exit points and mechanical equipment.
Our domes use complex mechanical systems to maintain a comfortable climate and adequate air pressure inside the structure. Contractors work with skilled subcontractors to ensure safe and reliable electrical service and distribution (including wiring for the dome’s mechanical controls), gas service and plumbing, and the final connections to energize the dome’s mechanical and lighting systems.
Contractors also handle the peripheral infrastructure for sewer and storm water management, and the installation of the parking lot and parking lot lighting. And, of course, if your facility plans also include a clubhouse building, your contractor will oversee its construction as well.
Why Use a General Contractor and/or a Construction Manager?
There’s a lot more to building an air-supported dome than simply putting it in place and inflating it with air. When you look at all the steps involved, it’s clear why we partner with experienced professionals. Constructing a dome, especially with large fieldhouse facilities, is a real development project.
Throughout the process, The Farley Group is here to help along the way. We collaborate with everyone involved in the project to ensure all parties are on the same page to build exactly what you’re looking for.