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In the spirit of the Super Bowl, 2020 welcomed two new stadiums to the National Football League that continue to raise the bar in the construction and technology world. Allegiant Stadium, the new home for the Las Vegas Raiders, opened in a prime location on The Strip in Las Vegas and SoFi Stadium opened in Los Angeles as the new home for the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

Raiders owner Mark Davis says, “A stadium like Allegiant only raises the bar. It’s the most magnificent stadium and exists in the entertainment capital of the world.” Visually inspired by the sleek and gradual curves of a futuristic luxury vehicle, Allegiant Stadium is unlike any other venue, making it an architectural and engineering marvel. The unique features of the domed stadium include a cable net truss system used for the roof. The seven-acre ETFE roof is suspended by 100 stainless steel cables that create the light-weight roof structure diaphragm and the translucent roof protects players and fans from the summer heat while preserving the atmosphere of an outdoor stadium.

The stadium fits right into the glitz and glam of “The Strip” with its sleek silver and black exterior. The clear roof dome was constructed with translucent roof panels to create an outdoor feel during the Fall, along with an 80 x 215 foot opening in the north endzone with lanai doors that can be opened or closed. As a special tribute to former Raiders owner Al Davis, the stadium features the Al Davis Memorial Torch, a 93-foot tall eternal flame constructed of carbon fiber and aluminum that will use a mixture of lights and special effects along with a 1,000-gallon water tank to create the effect of a flame.

Meeting the challenge to provide the Raiders with a real grass field in the desert, the facility also features a retractable field system. Weighing nearly 20 million pounds, the playing field is housed in a movable 4-foot-deep “tray” and moves on 540 electrically-powered wheels across 13 rails, which allows the natural grass field to move outdoors for sunlight and water. This feature provides the stadium with the versatility of using both natural grass and artificial turf playing surfaces.

By the numbers: the landmark facility required the removal of 895,000 cubic yards of dirt, the installation of 12 miles of concrete drilled shafts, and miles of piping and utility systems, nineteen construction cranes, 28,000 tons of structural steel, 105,000 cubic yards of concrete and 482,000 structural bolts. (Source: McCarthy)

As fans approach the stadium, they will notice it has a low-profile as the playing field is 100-feet below street level, with the roof rising 275 feet above the field. The roof, really a canopy as the stadium is not enclosed, is in the shape of a massive sail and is constructed of translucent glass allowing natural light into the facility. Panels at both ends of the stadium can be opened or closed to allow breezes in.

The stadium is built with an arching steel truss compression ring supporting a double grid cable net roof covered with translucent ETFE and surrounded with perforated aluminum panels. The roof, the largest of its kind ever built, is comprised of 302 ETFE panels, including 46 mechanized vents that allow the heat generated by more than 70,000 spectators to dissipate. The massive roof consists of more than 1400-tons of double orthogonal grid steel, and approximately 67,000 tons of ETFE membrane, secondary steel, gutters, cross clamps, cable struts, and retractable vents. The 20,000-ton steel truss compression ring reaches the ground at three points and has additional support from thirty-seven earthquake-resistant columns as high as 100-feet from grade. The 13-acre stadium roof is open on three sides and is a completely separate structure seismically isolated from the stadium bowl.

Photo credit: NFL.com

The stadium was designed by renowned stadium architecture studio, HKS, with assistance from structural engineering firm, Walter P Moore. FabriTec Structures was contracted in a design-assist role with the project consultants in developing a technically and commercially viable cable net roof structure and ETFE cladding system. (Source: FabritecStructures.com)

The inside seating capacity of 70,000 can be expanded to hold over 100,000 for high profile events. Not only is the stadium home to the Rams and Chargers, but it will host a number of high profile events in future years, including next year’s Super Bowl, the College Football Championship game in 2023, the 2028 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, the 2026 FIFA World Cub and WrestleMania 37 in March 2021.

A defining feature of SoFi Stadium is the double-sided Oculus video board ushering in a new amenity in fan experience. The Oculus is the only two-sided oval center-hung video board in an NFL stadium, and the only 4k end-to-end video production in sports. It also has the largest LED content playback system ever deployed. Every face/display can be uniquely programmed with live content, statistics or animated content. The idea of having a dual-sided display is that no matter where a fan sits in the stadium, they will have a video surface in front of them.