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.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter sports like skiing and ice hockey are just as beloved as field sports. But not everyone is eager to switch out the cleats for snowshoes come fall. Good news: there are plenty of awesome summer sports you probably didn’t know you could play in the winter!
1. Beach Volleyball
Who says you need a beach to play beach volleyball? Although the game may have originated as a summer pastime, it has evolved into a sanctioned Olympic sport practiced by serious athletes.
There are now indoor beach volleyball facilities (sand and all) built for year-round play. Sports domes like the Volleydome in Calgary boast courts for traditional indoor volleyball and the two-on-two beach game.
Of course, the game changes quite a bit when the green turns to white, and not necessarily for the better. The ball skips and glides across the snowy pitch with ease but is much harder to keep in control. The low-friction playing surface also puts players at risk of injury.
Playing soccer outdoors in the cold isn’t ideal unless the season runs long or winter comes early. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: the soccer dome.
Just be sure to dress for the weather with a moisture-wicking base layer and lots of insulating layers on top.
Believe it or not, there are lots of ways to experience the joys of cycling in the winter.
If you’re brave enough to venture outdoors, it’s possible to outfit your regular commuter bicycle to tackle the slippery roads ahead. However, it does require some extra maintenance; MEC recommends that you wipe down the chain after every ride, apply lube to the chain at least three times a month, and spray aerosol lube on all the moving parts once another.
For cyclists who prefer to stay warm, there’s track cycling, a lesser-known Olympic event that provides an incredible workout and a great show for spectators. Thanks to air-supported structures like the Team USA Velodrome, you can pick up this sport at any time of year.
5. Ultimate Frisbee
It might not have made the Olympics yet, but Ultimate Frisbee has been soaring in popularity ever since its inception in the 1960s. It’s become a favourite of college students and rec leagues around North America.
Trouble is, it’s not easy to catch and throw a plastic disc with mittens on.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Canada. With benefits such as increased aerobic capacity, muscle tone, flexibility and endurance, it’s a great sport for children and adults alike.
Because year-round leagues are becoming popular, more and more teams are training in subzero temperatures. However, there are risks involved with playing soccer in cold weather, so it’s important to keep players safe, warm and comfortable.
The influence of cold weather can have a substantial impact on overall health and safety during practices and games.
However, with proper precautions, players can avoid succumbing to cold-weather illness or injury.
If the field is not covered by a soccer dome, wind chill is an important factor to consider.
The wind chill temperature is how cold it feels outdoors. Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin cause by wind and cold. Thus, the wind makes it feel much colder and poses a more serious risk to playing outdoors.
A gust of wind can be enough to infiltrate your clothing and remove the insulating layer of warmth that surrounds your body. The risk of frostbite increases as wind chill falls. It only takes up to 30 minutes to be exposed to frost bite if the wind chill drops below -7 degrees Celsius.
Dressing for Cold Temperatures
When outdoor temperatures drop, the body loses heat more rapidly than usual. It’s important to dress appropriately when playing in cold weather. Layering clothing can be effective, as long as layers are removed to avoid overheating. Dress so that you start off warm and remove articles of clothing as needed.
Start with a base layer made of polypropylene. It’s vital to avoid sweating before playing outdoors since your body will cool quickly. Polypropylene is a moisture-wicking fabric that does not absorb sweat.
Next, cover your first layer with a good insulating fabric such as microfleece or thermal. A mock turtleneck is a great option as well.
The outer layer should protect your extremities.
Ensure that feet, head, ears, hands, eyes and skin are protected before braving the elements. Wear additional clothing such as hats, headbands, gloves, sweatshirts and sweatpants.
It’s also a good idea to pack sunglasses and apply sunscreen before heading out.
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.
Ever wonder what holds a dome down to the ground? It’s a common question, and one that people often ask once they see the massive size of domes. A large soccer or multi-sport dome can be hundreds of feet long and several storeys high, so the force of the wind as well as the upwards force of the air inside is considerable.
The last thing anyone wants is to lose their dome, so it’s important to make sure a dome is securely fastened to the ground.
The Concrete Grade Beam
Like any large structure, a dome needs a firm foundation that is engineered to withstand the stressors acting on it and built to ensure what’s built (or attached to it) will stand securely. In the case of an air structure, this foundation is made up of a concrete grade beam.
Before a dome goes up, a concrete grade beam needs to be poured around the circumference of the entire dome site. Concrete gives the strength and stability to make sure that nothing will move once the dome is in place.
The process is quite like the pouring of a foundation for many other types of construction. The only difference is that the foundation is only required around the perimeter of the dome. Farley recommends that experienced foundation builders pour the grade beam foundation. We can provide the dimensions and specifics, but nobody knows concrete and foundations better than those who specialize in the field.
The Aluminum Profile
The next important component of a dome’s foundation is the aluminum profile. This is what attaches the dome fabric to the concrete grade beam.
During the construction of the foundation, an aluminium profile is installed directly to the grade beam before the concrete hardens. This aluminum profile, once the concrete has set, will then serve as the anchoring point for the dome around the entire circumference.
When the dome is ready to go up, the fabric is spread out and attached to the grade beam via the aluminum profile. Once secured, the dome can be inflated and every point along the foundation is inspected. Once given the OK, everyone can rest assured that the dome won’t be going anywhere!
While domes are considered a temporary or semi-permanent structure, the foundation is permanent. Many domes are seasonal, going up in the fall and coming down in the spring. The grade beam foundation, however, stays there year-round. And having the foundation built properly and securely makes it much easier to install and remove a dome depending on the season. Dome foundations are built to last!
Are you curious just how strong the foundation needs to be? While the force of the wind can be considerable, it’s not the only thing trying to lift a dome off its foundation. Check out our blog on the upwards force of the warmed air inside of a dome!
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.
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.
Sell the Naming Rights to Your Dome
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.
Get Corporations, Local Businesses and Individuals Involved
With the explosive growth of soccer in North America, more and more corporations are wanting to get involved in this form of sponsorship.
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!
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!
Detroit Free Press - Situated at 601 Mack Ave. in Midtown, in the city's Tolan Playfield park, the velodrome is inside a large white air dome that rises 60 feet off the ground and is visible from I-75. Ten laps roughly equal a mile on the 166-meter wooden banked track, which can only be used by purpose-built track bikes.
Only two U.S. cities have a specially designed sports venue for indoor bicycle-racing.
Next month, Detroit becomes the third.
The Lexus Velodrome is scheduled to debut Dec. 9 with a preview race around the track, which is called a velodrome. Regular public use of the venue will begin in mid January, including free fitness and training programs for youths.
Organizers' goals include forming the nation's largest minority cycling team and developing Olympic-caliber cyclists.
Situated at 601 Mack Ave. in Midtown, in the city's Tolan Playfield park, the velodrome is inside a large white air dome that rises 60 feet off the ground and is visible from I-75.