To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Modernization and multipurpose arenas: providing context for tomorrow

Benjamin Joseph Downs (Sport Administration, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA)
Chad Stephen Seifried (Sport Management, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 6 April 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021



The purpose of this paper is to identify the historical factors that influenced the design and construction of modern National Hockey League and National Basketball Association arenas between 1990 and 2018. Additionally, this paper seeks to index the characteristics of those modern arenas while forwarding reasonable, informed propositions for future multipurpose arena design.


The historical methodology was applied to the design and construction of modern multipurpose arenas between 1990 and 2018. Modernization theory was utilized as an organizing construct to understand the intentional managerial actions to capitalize on consumer expectations by responding to economic and technological changes.


Sport managers responded to decreased median family incomes during the period of the study by building arenas with increasingly commodified spaces and amenities targeting wealthy and corporate customers. New technologies were adopted within facilities to meet the needs and expectations of in-venue and remote consumers.

Practical implications

In addition to demonstrating the practical utility of modernization theory and applied history for sport management scholars and practitioners, particularly in the Western context, the present study provides a series of propositions for future sport managers to consider to maintain or establish institutional advantage in the arena marketplace.


The paper contributes to the sport management literature by demonstrating the utility of modernization theory and applied history for sport management. In examining the design history of modern multipurpose arenas, the paper identifies the characteristics of modern multipurpose arenas while demonstrating the importance of understanding context and intentionality in managerial decision making.



Downs, B.J. and Seifried, C.S. (2021), "Modernization and multipurpose arenas: providing context for tomorrow", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 384-404.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited