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Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 Conference speaker in focus: Skanska's John Reyhan
John Reyhan, a general manager at Skanska, talks about building stadia in the USA, future trends affecting current projects and landing his dream job in the sports construction industry
“I have always been a lover of sports – all sports; from football to baseball, to lacrosse, to you name it!” entheuses John Reyhan, general manager at Skanska’s Atlanta office. Reyhan joined the company in 1998, recognising the opportunity to combine his passion for sports with his career in construction. “I jumped at the chance! It’s a perfect fit for me!” he grins.
Reyhan is also the executive leader of Skanska’s Sports Center of Excellence (COE) – a group of experts within Skanska that have extensive experience in sports construction. “The COE supplements our local offices with best practices and the resources needed to pursue, win and build cutting-edge sports facilities of all types,” he explains.
With 22 years experience in the construction industry under his belt, Reyhan he seen his fair share of projects grow from the ground up. “The best part of working for a construction company is seeing a job begin as a hole in the ground, then watching it transform into an amazing structure,” he says. “So much planning and effort goes into making any building, but what makes building a sports facility so cool is that it often becomes a signature building for a city or an icon for a community.” With this in mind, Skanska tries to work with local vendors to ensure the community is involved in the construction process, making an extra effort to co-ordinate with local contractors to co-ordinate large trade packages.
“The toughest thing about working in the sports construction sector is the limited number of sports projects that are built,” Reyhan admits. “Cities build hospitals and schools every day, but stadia aren’t built as frequently. If we could build a stadium every year we would, but that’s just not the nature of the business.”
Despite this, Skanska has built dozens of sports facilities across the USA, from NFL stadia, to major league ballparks, to Olympic swimming facilities. “Each project we have completed is unique,” says Reyhan. “Whether it was the unique design, how the project was phased, how material was procured or the innovative construction techniques that were employed, every sports project we undertake is a significant achievement.”
It is obvious that Reyhan is a man who loves his job, and with so many successful projects to reflect on, it’s easy to see why. “When the New York Giants and the New England Patriots both made it to the Super Bowl, I realised that Skanska built the stadia for both Super Bowl teams this year – something that very few construction companies can say,” he adds proudly.
In terms of current and future trends, the Skanska man recognises that fan experience is becoming the primary focus of stadium owners, who he says are competing more than ever with cable television and social media. In the future, “I think we’ll see more integration of social media in stadia to keep fans coming to their venues instead of watching sports from the comfort of their own homes,” he predicts. “Fan experience will be paramount.”
Nevertheless, he believes that the key issue of maximising revenue will continue to shape and define stadia from here on, with issues such as energy and conservation of natural resources at the forefront. “Constantly evolving technology will improve the efficiency of the stadium infrastructure in an effort to minimise utility and operating costs,” he suggests.
While dwindling natural resources continue to drive the development of new systems that focus on renewable energy and increased water conservation, Reyhan predicts that the ever-shortening time for the release of new technology will require stadia to develop a backbone for ‘plug and play’ system modules that minimise the time and cost for updates. “As stadia fight for the entertainment dollar, fan comfort will require that the seating norms for leg-room and seat width increase to acceptable levels,” he suggests, “while virtual ‘screens’ for every seat will allow fans to connect their PDAs and navigate them without taking their eyes off the event.”
John Reyhan will be one of the experts involved in Session 4: a contractors’ roundtable discussion at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012 (15.45-17.00hrs, Tuesday 8 May, 2012)