2019 In Review: The Year In Venues

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
The billion-dollar-plus Chase Center became San Francisco’s first new arena since the Cow Palace.

The opening of the $1.6 billion Chase Center in San Francisco, the merger of the two biggest facility management companies and two monster NFL naming-rights deals topped the highlights for 2019 venues across North America.

Spread over 11 acres of San Francisco’s Mission Bay, the self-financed new home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors has room for 18,064 fans, 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a 35,000-foot outdoor plaza and almost 1,000 parking spaces. Metallica and the San Francisco Orchestra christened Chase Center Sept. 6 and the Warriors’ home opener took place Oct. 5. 
They lost to the Clippers but, in the long run, the Warriors defied the odds of getting the venue open over cries of gentrification and the staggering cost to get the behemoth built.


AEG Facilities and Pennsylvania-based venue management company SMG, merged in 2019 to create the world’s largest facility management business, now known as ASM Global. Together the company manages more than 300 venues around the world.  
Financial lender SoFi signed naming rights for the new NFL stadium in Inglewood, Calif., which at $5.2 billion, stands as the world’s most expensive sports facility. 
SoFi will pay up to $600 million over 20 years, according to multiple sources, which includes assets across the 300-acre retail and entertainment district next to the stadium.
In Las Vegas, Allegiant Airlines signed a naming rights deal similar in value for the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders’ new $2 billion stadium off the Vegas strip. Both NFL venues open in 2020. 
Multiple renovations of 1990s-era arenas took place or are in various phases of development. In Cleveland, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, formerly Quicken Loans Arena, completed a $185 million makeover tied to rebranding of the facility. In Boston, TD Garden went through a $100 million refurb and, on a much larger scale, debuted the $1 billion Hub on Causeway, a multi-tower mixed-use project connected to the arena. 
The Phoenix Suns, meanwhile, laid out plans for $230 million in upgrades to Talking Stick Resort Arena, which opened in 1992 and now stands as the NBA’s third-oldest facility.
Major League Soccer’s newest stadium, Allianz Field, opened in St. Paul, Minn., in April. The 19,400-capacity venue was designed by Populous and is the home of the Minnesota United. The roof canopy’s ability to change colors for events is the signature feature at the $250 million facility.
New York City’s iconic Webster Hall, dating to 1886, was re-opened by AEG and BSE Global in April with a Jay-Z concert after a $10 million, two-year, shutdown to renovate the 1,400-capacity nightclub. 
The city that never sleeps also welcomed the first phase of The Hudson Yards development in 2019, a new complex on Manhattan’s West Side, which houses eight structures including The Shed, a 170,000-square-foot performing arts center. Technological advances powered many of the changes that came to venues in 2019 with facial recognition beta tested at Staples Center and Rose Bowl Stadium, and 5G mobile technology has been installed in the Los Angeles Convention Center. 
As the 5G revolution takes over, look for the increased bandwidth to allow venues to use augmented reality from wayfinding to on-field play. 
Global esports revenue grew to a formidable $1.1 billion in 2019, a healthy 27% increase from just a year ago. 
There are now approximately 860 professional players on more than 100 professional teams competing in 13 international leagues. 
The new esports leagues are showing muscle: last year’s League of Legends championship had an average-minute-audience of 19.6 million, which is on par with the NBA finals.