One of the first questions we ask when we begin the design of a new rink is “how many seats do you want in the rink?” Follow up questions include:

  • Is it a “practice” rink?
    Here you need maybe 200 seats for parents, grandparents, etc.
  • Or is it a “game” rink?
    Here you may want 800, 1200, 2000 or more depending on your level of competition. 
Practice-Ice-Rink Game-Ice-Rink

Many times, people want to drive the size of the rink to fit the largest crowd they have each year. “You know when we have that big rivalry game, we could easily seat 1,200 people!”


How to Choose the Right Number of Seats for Your Ice Rink

When I hear that my first response is this: what crowd do you get for 80% of your games? They usually answer with a much smaller number – maybe 750-800. My advice to them at that point is to design to that lower number. There are 4 main reasons I make that recommendation.

  1. You need a bigger site to seat that the larger number of people in your arena. Say you size it for the 1200 instead of the 800 – that is 400 additional seats. A typical rule of thumb is one parking space for every three seats. So, 400 more seats require an additional 133 parking spaces. That is almost an additional acre of parking lot to build and maintain.
  2. Stating the obvious here: you will need a bigger building to accommodate additional seating. Say, for example, a rink is $250/sf of construction cost – those extra seats could quickly add $1M to your budget. Think about it: you are building the seating level, plus you need to capture the space below it – so you are building on two levels.
  3. This is not a fun one to think about, but I'll say it anyway: you will need more toilets! Building code dictates how many toilets you need based on seating capacity. So, for more seats, you will need more toilets, more sinks, and more space to accommodate those requirements.
  4. I know what you're thinking: but what about the big rivalry game? And here's what I'd say: Part of the fun of a big rivalry game is being crowded into the rink, shoulder to shoulder with fellow fans. That just adds to the atmosphere in the rink! Secondly, when we design your rink, we'll consciously add in standing room space as well. You can fit a ton of people into standing room space, and it gives you the flexibility to accommodate a larger crowd at little to no expense.

So, if you are planning a new rink – think twice about how many seats you really want in your building. Rink buildings are expensive to build and maintain – we recommend you “right size” it from the start.

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Published on March 23, 2021

Topics: Ice Arena Architecture, Rink Design, Recreation

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