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A. The field of play 

 

The field of play (FoP) is the heart of any basketball arena. It is our focus whether we are players, spectators in the arena or viewers watching the action from elsewhere.

 

The performance of the court flooring, backstop units and scoring systems are key to the suitability of the arena for basketball. The FIBA Equipment & Venue Centre has developed an approval program to ensure that products of the highest quality in terms of performance, durability, safety and technology are available and supported by knowledgeable and experienced suppliers. These approved products comply with FIBA’s specifications as set out in the rules of basketball and competition hosting requirements. All FIBA Approved Equipment can be found here:

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This sub-section covers the main aspects and design factors for the field of play. Further detailed information including court markings, the dimensions of backstop units and the technical requirements of all equipment, can be found in FIBA’s latest edition of the Official Basketball Rules, which is split into two documents, one for the rules of the game, the other for the specifications of the equipment:

 

Game rules, including court markings

Equipment rules

 

Within these rules there is reference to Level 1 and Level 2 competitions,

 

  • Level 1 FIBA Approved Equipment is required for all FIBA national team and club competitions, plus other elite level competitions. 

  • For Level 2 (all other competitions not included in Level 1), FIBA Approved Equipment and conformance to either Level 1 or Level 2 specifications is strongly recommended.  

 

Court flooring

Court flooring must be perfectly flat, firm and free from obstructions. The inner playing area shall be 28.0m long and 15.0m wide. The court shall be marked with 50mm lines in accordance with the FIBA Official Rules of Basketball. The court shall be surrounded by a further boundary area of at least 2.0m which shall be marked in a color contrasting to that of the inner playing area. The minimum dimensions for the entire court area are therefore 32.0m long and 19.0m wide.

The space above the field of play shall be free from obstruction (including any video cube installations) for a height of at least 7.0m. For arenas intending to host top-level competitions with large broadcast set-ups, a clearance height of at least 14.0m is recommended to accommodate installations such as cable-suspended cameras.

 

Basketball court flooring is traditionally made from solid hard woods such as maple, beech, oak and ash. These materials are used because they are light in color, not prone to splintering and firm but smooth in finish. More recently, engineered wood (manufactured from layers of wood) is also used in court flooring. Factors such as durability, temperature and humidity should be considered when selecting the type of wood. In all cases, the upper surface of wooden flooring should be protected by the application of a coating product. 

 

FIBA competition Level 1 must be played on a FIBA Approved wooden or glass surface. FIBA Approved glass (LED) flooring is a recent innovation and is explored as a technology trend in Section 6. FIBA competition Level 2 may also be played on synthetic flooring. The most common types of synthetic surfaces include:

  • Polyurethane (PU) flooring: a multi-layered, fixed flooring system sealed with a PU-based resin topcoat. Its substructure can incorporate layers of different materials (rubber, wood, foam, etc.).

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) flooring: usually supplied in rolls and is comprised of a PVC sheet (generally 2-5 mm thick) and a foam substructure.

  • Polypropylene (PP) flooring tiles: Portable tiles of 10-20 mm thick which sit on a rubber or foam underlay layer.

The key performance characteristics of a basketball court flooring are:

  • a firm and level surface to facilitate the grip of the players’ feet and the perfect bounce of the ball;

  • consistent performance across the entire field of play;

  • resilience and the avoidance of permanent deformation or deterioration; and

  • shock absorbency, an essential characteristic in terms of player safety and mitigates the wear and tear on joints and tendons. Elasticity of the court flooring is catogorised according to the following four definitions:

 

  1. Area-elastic: to which a force is deflected over a relatively large area around the point of application.

  2. Point-elastic: to which a point force causes deflection only at or close to the point of application.

  3. Combined-elastic: area-elastic sports floor with a point-elastic top layer, to which the application of a point force causes both localized deflection and deflection over a wider area.

  4. Mixed-elastic: point-elastic sports floor with a synthetic area-stiffening component.

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Elasticity can be achieved by installing sprung flooring which uses sub-flooring to support the upper surface. Traditionally this sub-floor would have been made from wooden battens with plywood supports but more recently rubber pads or foam layers are a common solution. All FIBA Approved flooring products incorporate this sub-floor so that it does not require separate installation. 

 

Point elastic flooring is only recommended for children’s age groups where weight loads are reduced and therefore it is often used in schools.

 

Any flooring system needs to sit on a stable, perfectly level concrete floor otherwise “dead spots” can occur. For wood floors, it is recommended that a membrane is applied over the concrete to prevent moisture rising from the ground through the slab to the underside of the finished floor. For synthetic floors, protection against moisture, such as a sealer, should also be considered depending on the type of flooring and its sensitivity to humidity.

 

Water ingress or humidity can permanently damage wooden flooring (and in certain cases, also synthetic flooring) therefore extra attention should be paid to ensuring that humidity in the arena (or any storage facilities used for wooden flooring) is regulated according to the manufacturer’s guidance (normally 30-50% for solid wood and 40-60% for engineered wood). The risk of water ingress should also be mitigated by:

  • Ensuring that the arena is waterproof by design (including flood mitigation measures) with appropriate regular inspections and maintenance.

  • Fire protection and prevention systems should be designed and operated so as not to trigger unnecessary sprinkler activation in the court area.

The following table compares the properties and advantages of the different types of court flooring: 

Court flooring can be installed permanently (fixed) or can be a flexible, moveable solution (portable). For arenas planning significant use for non-court sports or entertainment such as concerts, a moveable surface is likely to be the best option to facilitate regular venue transformations. A portable solution would also support arenas hosting different elite-level court sports where competition regulations dictate that only the court markings relating to each individual sport are visible. If the court flooring is elevated above the base floor, then appropriate non-slip ramping shall be provided at all access points to the court.

 

Where arenas are used for other court sports (or re-configured so that seating for top-level games is removed to open up adjacent courts), care should be taken to ensure that the surrounding areas are spacious enough to achieve the movement of equipment (such as the removal of backstop units) and necessary people flows to achieve these reconfigurations and meet the requirements of the other users. If sufficient space is not factored into the design, court flooring can be unnecessarily marked, worn, or damaged, which will increase maintenance costs and potentially impair the performance and reduce the lifespan of the court flooring. 

 

Where seating tribunes are moved over or placed on court flooring, the weight load shall be distributed to avoid creating permanent distortion. Any supporting layers or devices shall be of a non-marking material. The area of floor where a mobile backstop unit is positioned may require an additional weight protection mechanism to avoid deformation of the floor. 

 

Court branding can be applied to wooden floors with paint and a surface coating to ensure the required friction properties are met. Permanent branding changes are only possible with re-sanding and re-coating. Temporary branding can be applied with FIBA Approved court stickers (detailed further in Sub-section 5b).

 

Direct sunlight may damage the court flooring over time and may reduce its lifespan. In venues with large windows where the sunlight can shine directly on the court flooring, a shading system should be installed. 

 

The maintenance and cleaning aspects of court flooring are covered in Sub-section 5a.

 

Equipment

Each basketball court shall have two backstop units (one at each end of the court) incorporating the ring, net, backboard and support structure. For FIBA competitions, one spare full unit must be located near the court. It is recommended that FIBA Approved Level 1 mobile or floor-fixed backstop units are installed, and these are mandatory for elite-level national and international competitions.

The detailed specifications for FIBA Approved backstop units can be found in the Basketball Equipment section of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules. The key aspects to emphasise are:

 

  • A minimum of 2.0m of unobstructed space is required from the outer edge of the endline to the front of the padding on the support unit.

  • Protective padding is required to the edges of the support unit and the bottom and sides of the backboard. 

  • The backstop support unit, including its padding, must be contrasting in colour to its background to ensure visibility to the players.

  • The unit shall be secured to the floor according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent any movement.

 

Ceiling or wall-mounted backstop units are permitted for basketball below elite level. These type of units are particularly suitable for multi-sport facilities and where space is limited. A minimum of 1.0m of unobstructed space is required from the edge of the endline to any wall or other obstruction. To avoid excessive vibration, ceiling-mounted units should not be used where the ceiling height exceeds 10.0m. 

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B. Around the field of play

 

Having started from the field of play, we now work our way out and look at the area immediately surrounding it.

 

Court access

One of the key aspects to flexible venue use is being able to separate the flows of different user groups. Having multiple access routes to the court will help to facilitate this around the court area and for larger venues it is recommended that there are four access points to the court - one from each corner.  Access routes located in the middle of seating tribunes (e.g., center tunnels are not recommended as they can interfere with camera views and are not considered to be the best use of prime court-side space. The ability to provide dedicated routes for players, broadcasters, access to the mixed zone and other staff/ entertainers around the court is recommended. The actual or potential separation of flows and travel distances to key points such as team changing rooms, press conference rooms or other working areas should be considered at the design stage.

 

Scorer’s table and team benches

A scorer’s table shall be placed along the sideline, opposite the center line and beyond the edge of the 2.0m boundary line. It is recommended that the table can accommodate up to ten people with minimum dimensions of 0.6m wide, 0.8m high and should be elevated by 0.2m. There should be sufficient circulation and access space behind the table. Power connections and cabled data connectivity is required to operate the scoring and timing systems. There should be space for two substitute cubes or chairs on either side of the scorer’s table.

 

The two team bench areas should be located on either side of the scorer’s table. The team bench area should start from a position opposite the sideline that is 5.0m from the center line. The bench seats should be placed sufficiently far away from the outer court boundary line to allow circulation without encroaching on the boundary area. The team bench areas should accommodate 16 people each, ideally with 14 seats fixed together and the two seats nearest the scorer’s table being moveable during time-outs. 

 

Positions for technical operators should be provided for elite-level competitions. This can be in the form of a technical table placed behind (but elevated above) the scorer’s table or sometimes incorporated into the scorer’s table. As a minimum, four unobstructed viewing positions should be provided in the lower bowl between the end lines. For the highest level of competition, such as FIBA World Cup, the technical table needs to accommodate 16 people. Power connections and cabled data connectivity are also required. The following diagram provides an indicative layout for the scorer’s table and technical table.

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Courtside seating

Courtside spectator seating at basketball games is a unique experience in the world of sport.  A flexible approach to courtside spectator seating is recommended, allowing adaptation according to different competitions and commercial drivers. 

 

Courtside seating is best located on sides of the court that do not feature perimeter advertising boards (i.e., the side opposite the team benches). This can increase the commercial value and proximity of courtside spectators to the field of play. A second row of seating can also be placed at floor level. The first row of any such seating should not pose a risk to the safety of the players or spectators and therefore sufficient space should be factored in for player movement, leg room and circulation between the edge of the outer boundary of the court and the seating. Courtside seats must not adversely impact broadcast and media viewing position and camera positions. 

 

If courtside seating is also located on the ends of the court that feature perimeter advertising boards, the first two rows of seating should be placed on the event floor with the back of the first row placed at least 865mm from the backside of the perimeter board assembly. The width of the front row should be determined by the type of seat provided and the clearance width required for egress. Please refer to the diagram provided in Sub-section 3c.

 

Each successive row behind the second may be placed on temporary risers or stage decks at a minimum height of 75-100mm and with a recommended tread depth of at least 865mm. The depth of the stage decks/risers should be determined by the type of seating provided and the clearance width required for egress. An aisle with a minimum width of 1.2m should be incorporated between the temporary risers and the floor seating to provide access and circulation. Aisle breaks (of at least 1.2m wide) should also be provided for people to access the seating rows.  

 

Perimeter advertising boards

It is increasingly common (and a requirement for some FIBA competitions) for LED perimeter boards to be placed beyond the outer court boundary (including any supporting “legs”) and used for advertising. As a minimum, arenas hosting elite-level competition should ensure that there is the space, power/ data source and distribution to accommodate these boards.

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Perimeter boards should have a maximum height of 1.0m and conform to all the safety specifications in the Basketball Equipment section of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules. This includes incorporating a soft rubber, protective sleeve or other form of padding to protect players from injuries in case of collision. The units need to be of sufficient weight to maintain their position at a straight angle. Court access must be maintained by gaps in the boards of at least 2.0m on either side of the scorer’s table and 0.9m on either side of the backstop units.

 

The boards should not obstruct spectator sightlines to the court. They should be positioned to achieve a minimum horizontal viewing angle of 140° (160° recommended) to ensure full visibility of the endline boards from various camera positions. A minimum vertical viewing angle of 60° should be incorporated. 

 

Sub-section 3c will consider incorporating the LED boards into back-up power systems and also the importance of resilient data connectivity and a fiber-optic loop. Appropriate power connections should be provided at courtside such as IP65-rated sockets (ensuring dust-free connections) with a 16A supply. For production purposes, it is recommended that the advertising boards have the functionality to dim illuminance and a refresh rate of above 3,800 Hz. FIBA Approved LED perimeter boards have been tested and approved in accordance with FIBA’s safety and media requirements. 

 

Larger arenas can install LED ribbon boards at the front of any upper tiers of the arena. This can enhance the sport presentation and commercial opportunities for sponsors and partners. They can also be used in combination with a FIBA Approved scoreboard software system.

Sports lighting

Sports lighting is a critical factor for the venue design. As well as ensuring good visibility without distractions for players and spectators, the requirements for modern sports lighting are driven by broadcasters to deliver outstanding picture quality.

 

Lighting is usually difficult and costly to replace or augment. Therefore, the sport lighting system implemented in the permanent design should be driven by the maximum requirements of the competitions that the venue plans to host. The detailed lighting requirements for FIBA competitions can be found in the Basketball Equipment section of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules.
 

The key aspects to note are:

  • Average illuminance levels of 2,000 lux towards the main camera (EC).

  • Average vertical illuminance levels of 1,700 lux (EV).

  • Average horizontal illuminance levels of 1,500-3,000 lux (EH). Average illuminance levels of 3000 lux (EH) is recommended for venues which intend to host the major competitions.

  • The uniformity of the vertical illuminance is crucial and should be within 1.35/1 in larger arenas and 1.5/1 in smaller arenas.

  • There are a range of criteria for assessing lighting systems beyond illuminance levels including flicker factor (recommended ≤ 1 %), color rendering (recommended ≥ Ra 80) and color temperature (recommended range of 4,000-6,000). Some LED systems facilitate color tuning which allows the arena to meet requirements that can vary between different sports. 

  • Glare on the court flooring and to the players should be avoided. This is achieved by:

    • Ensuring the luminaires are positioned at a sufficient height above the court. This should be above a plane drawn from the far sideline passing above the level of the backboard.

    • It is recommended that the luminaires should have an aiming angle of 45° from the downward vertical, with 60° as a maximum. 

    • Extra care should be taken with luminaires that could interfere with players in shooting positions such as lights in the 20° arc drawn from the basket towards the nearest point on the sidelines.

  • Achieving uniformity of the lighting without any shadows is key.

 

Sports lighting is a specialized subject and it is recommended that a lighting designer is involved in the selection of an appropriate system and its design and interaction with the specific circumstances of an arena. FIBA Approved lighting products have been tested and proven to meet the required standards. 

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Most modern sport lighting systems are solid-state LED lights and these are recommended due to increased efficiency, sharper light distribution and greater flexibility. This flexibility includes the ability to be dimmed and programmed for light shows which are an increasing trend in sports presentation and for other entertainment purposes. LED systems also use less energy, have fewer failures, have an instant re-strike capacity and require less frequent luminaire replacement than other systems. If metal halide lighting systems are used, they should have an instant re-strike capacity in case of failure.

 

For community arenas with focus on participation rather than spectator viewing/broadcast, lower lux values can be adopted. An average horizontal illuminance level of at least 750 lux (EH) is recommended for competition venues without broadcasting needs and/or elite level practice facilities. Community facilities focussed solely on recreational participation should adopt an average horizontal illuminance level of at least 300 lux (EH).

 

Sound system

The sound system in an arena has different functions:

  • Infotainment which provides information and entertainment to the spectators or audience. For basketball this can involve live commentary, music and sound effects that are designed to enhance the spectator experience. Infotainment also covers any integration of audio with video content displayed on big screens. For arenas which intend to host concerts, enhanced specialist concert-quality systems are available.

  • Emergency messaging and voice alarms - these are sometimes referred to as PA/VA (public address/ voice alarm) systems. If the arena has a venue control room or station, then it should be possible to override the infotainment input and broadcast emergency messages from there. 

  • Sound signaling is a FIBA requirement with two separate (distinct) signals for the scorer to signal end of game period and end of shot clock period. For this to be heard clearly, in all but the smallest arenas, this signaling should be relayed over the arena’s sound system.  

 

One of the key challenges is ensuring that the sound system can be clearly heard above the noise from the crowd when the arena is at full capacity. The design and performance specifications should be done with this in mind rather than when the arena is empty and its acoustic characteristics are different. 

 

The key performance characteristics of a sound system are:

  • frequency response: this is the system’s ability to produce a range of sounds;

  • speech intelligibility (STI): which measures the clarity of a human voice;

  • sound pressure levels (SPL): these are measurements (by a microphone) of sound (volume measured in decibels/ dBA) at a point of impact in comparison to a reference level; and

  • distribution: this is the physical range and consistency of sound around the arena including the avoidance of electroacoustic defects such as echoes or distortions.

 

The parameters of performance required can vary by the different functions of the system. The first consideration should be the ratio of the sound signal in relation to background noise. For voice alarm and emergency messaging, announcements should be 10 dB louder than the crowd noise and reproduced with a minimum STI of 0.5. The sound signaling in relation to the match timing and the shot clock needs to be clearly heard in a full arena. Music and other entertainment purposes usually require higher frequency ranges and SPLs. The requirement for loud noises for sports and entertainment purposes, however, needs to be balanced against the potentially negative effects of sound including to those within the arena. Noise levels in basketball arenas have been measured in the 100-120 dB range (somewhere between the equivalent of a rock concert and an ambulance siren). These levels are considered to be in the high-risk range in terms of potential damage to human hearing and approaching levels likely to cause injury. Local regulations will also dictate the parameters required for a sound, particularly in respect of emergency messaging. This is often in the form of requiring compliance with a recognized international standard such as ISO: 7240-16 and IEC 60268-16. 

 

Consideration should also be given to the need to relay sound or messaging to areas beyond the arena bowl such as public concourses and areas outside the arena. Potential noise pollution beyond the arena should be minimized to avoid disturbing local residents or wildlife.

 

In terms of arena design, the incorporation of sound absorbing finishes on vertical surfaces can help to mitigate sound reverberation. Arenas tend to contain a variety of hard surfaces (including the court flooring) so additional hard surfaces (such as glass-fronted boxes) should be avoided where possible. It is recommended that specialist advice is sought when selecting and designing sound systems.

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Video screens/scoreboards

Scoreboards or videoboards are required around the court. It is recommended (and mandatory for FIBA Level 1 competitions) that these can be either:

  • a centrally ceiling-mounted video cube with one additional FIBA Approved scoreboard/videobaord mounted opposite the players’ benches and clearly visible to the players; or

  • two large FIBA Approved scoreboard/videoboard, one at either end of the court. 

 

The detailed specifications for FIBA Approved scoreboards and videoboards can be found in the Basketball Equipment section of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules including the information to be displayed and the minimum size of characters to be used. The key aspects to emphasize are:

  • The boards must be securely mounted and not contain any sharp or rough edges.

  • The boards shall be clearly visible to everyone involved in the game including spectators with a minimum viewing angle of 130°.

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To achieve the required visibility, recommended screen sizes and resolutions are provided in the table above. The dimensions of the screen will also depend on the layout of the selected scoreboard software. A suitable aspect ratio is typically 16:9. The positioning and shape of new screens to be installed in existing arenas will often be dictated by the available space and the load-bearing capacity of the supporting structure. In some cases, a central cube with one additional scoreboard might not be enough to provide visibility to all spectators, so additional displays might be required.

 

It is recommended (and mandatory for FIBA Level 1 competition) that shot clocks units are installed on each backstop unit as detailed in the Basketball Equipment section of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules.

 

For most large arenas with regular multi-use or multi-sport configurations, a video cube is more common and facilitates a range of infotainment usage including scoreboards, replays, advertising, public entertainment or information. Halo video displays are also being introduced in arenas and provide 360-degree coverage. For smaller and medium-sized arenas, the trend is towards the installation of video screens which can be integrated with a FIBA Approved Scoreboard software product and operating console. 

 

Video screens require a specific operator position with a view of the court and screens. During FIBA competitions, the scoreboard must be displayed at all times and controlled from a FIBA Approved scoring system that is operated from the scorer’s table. In addition, during FIBA competitions sports presentation and infotainment staff may be located at the technical table and will direct the feeds to the video screens. The scoreboard information is distributed to the screens via HDMI or SDI signals.

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c. Facilities within the venue

 

Having looked at the court area and its immediate surroundings, we now move to other areas starting with those watching the action. This sub-section highlights a number of facilities that are required to support the game, both within and beyond the main bowl of the arena. The level of support required will vary according to the size and purpose of the arena. Further guidance on how to scale the contents of the sub-section across different arenas can be found in the Table of Recommendations and Requirements at the end of this guide.

 

Spectator viewing

Spectator seating should provide a safe, accessible and unobstructed view at all levels. Seating can be a mixture of structured tiered seating, retractable or portable tiered platform seating and portable seats at courtside (see Sub-section 3b). It is recommended that seating tiers have a minimum 865mm tread/row depth and that seats are spaced a minimum of 465 mm apart (measured center to center). The specific tread depths should be adjusted to the type of seating used and the clear aisleway required. Local regulations may also provide specifications for tread depths and other seating dimensions. Seating types may vary between smaller and larger arenas, as well as by the amenity or hospitality level offered. Seat types include fixed bench or bleacher type seating and fixed seats including backrests, armrests (shared or individual) and self-rising seat bottoms. All tiered seating should be manufactured from durable and fire-resistive materials. Seating row numbering should be clearly visible from the adjacent aisle and individual seat numbers should be clearly visible (including if the seat Is in the closed position). Further guidance, including seating dimensions and recommended test standards, can be found in the Basketball Equipment section of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules. FIBA Approved seating products have been tested and approved according to the applicable standards.

 

There are a number of adjustable (retractable or portable) seating systems available which vary in terms of design, capability and cost. Selecting the appropriate system will depend upon the event profile of the arena, seating capacity requirements and operational capabilities, such as event turnover times and fan expectations. Smaller arenas may choose simpler systems with straightforward geometries that are easy to operate and do not require additional storage when not in use. Larger venues hosting a range of event types will normally favor more complex, automated systems that provide higher-quality seating. 

 

To maintain optimum sightlines, tiered seating should begin within 3.7-5.5m of the outer boundary of the court on all sides. In most cases, the initial rows of tiered seating should be portable or retractable platforms. Tier elevations should be based on a design spectator focal point 600mm-900mm above the sideline or endline of the court, with a recommended “C” value range of 80-140 mm for seated spectators above the row immediately in front of them (as shown in the following diagram). Spectator seating at all levels should be free of obstructions. Applicable building regulations must be complied with. For new arenas, 500mm for focal points with minimum “C” value of 90mm should be considered as a minimum. It should be noted that if tiered seating begins outside of the recommended 3.7-5.5m distance from the outer boundary that the first-row elevation must be raised sufficiently to provide sightlines clear of courtside seating, player benches, the scorer’s table and any courtside media positions. 

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Spectator seating sightline criteria

Each level of seating should include a proportion of seats/viewing positions for people with disabilities or with limited mobility. During a basketball game, it is common that spectators will stand at various times. Therefore, seating for wheelchair-users should provide a line of sight with a “C” value equal to that of the minimum designed “C” value for all spectators over a standing person in the row immediately in front. For example, if the design “C” value for the venue is 90mm, the wheelchair-user positions should also be designed to 90mm as shown in the following diagram. 

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Further guidance on accessible seating and access can be found in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Accessibility Guide (4th Edition). The quantities of accessible seating provided should comply with relevant local regulations.

Broadcast and media

Broadcast and media personnel will require a range of viewing facilities with different locations and an unobstructed view of the field of play. The total number of positions can vary significantly between events, however, sound infrastructure planning is required to facilitate their needs. 


The provision of these facilities will be driven by the requirements of the broadcasters who have rights to the competitions and events hosted at the arena. These positions will normally include: 

  • Primary TV and radio broadcast commentary positions: these are often three positions located courtside, opposite the scorer’s table at center court. Additional positions may be required.

  • Other commentary positions: these may be located courtside or in positions in the stands between the endlines.

  • Written media: representatives should be grouped together in the stands.

For large-scale events (such as the FIBA Basketball World Cup) temporary overlay platforms may be required to provide additional positions.  

 

Broadcast and media seating criteria

Broadcast and media positions must maintain unobstructed views of the court. Where commentary positions are provided courtside, there should not be any physical barriers or spectators between the media table and the court. If an additional row of media seating is provided courtside, the viewing positions and table should be placed on a riser or deck elevated to provide unobstructed views over the positions in front of them.

 

Where media viewing positions are in seating sections, they should maintain an unobstructed sightline 2.25m above the leading edge of the row of seating immediately in front to the design focal point (900mm above the sideline or endline).

 

All media positions should be provided with a work surface, table or counter (600mm x 600mm) for each person. Each position should be provided with access to power sockets and wired data connectivity, as well as access to a dedicated, high-speed wireless internet network and cellular data networks.

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Media workrooms

Arenas should provide a working area for the media. In larger arenas, this would be a dedicated, purpose-designed room, for smaller arenas this could be a space that can be used by the media on gamedays. The room(s) should be conveniently located for the media entrance and provide convenient access to the viewing positions. Two separate spaces are recommended for larger arenas, one for broadcasters and one for written media. Each room should provide members of the media with a desk and chairs, as well as access to power and data connectivity. 

 

An area of 30m2 is recommended for broadcasters and 80m2 for written media, but each competition may have its own specific requirements. The room(s) should be provided with a game clock, statistics monitor and screens visible throughout the room showing the primary broadcast feed. A break-out room with access to catering services and dedicated toilet facilities should be provided close by.

 

Broadcast compound

Arenas should provide a broadcast compound incorporating parking for broadcast trucks, including production trucks and satellite uplink vans. For larger arenas, this could be up to six vehicles. Parking spaces must be at least 18.2m long and 6.1m wide and must have less than a 2% slope. The compound should provide direct cabling access to the broadcast areas within the arena, as well as convenient access to the media working areas. 

 

Camera positions

Broadcasters will require a range of camera positions, the scope of which will be driven by the scale of the broadcast. Even if a game is not broadcast live, the majority of elite-level games are filmed for content and/or statistical/analytical purposes.

In general, the standard camera positions are:

  • Main camera platform: three to five camera positions located opposite to the players’ benches at the center line, 18m-30m from the sideline and 6m-15m in elevation with a recommended viewing angle of 17.5° to the center of the court. This would accommodate the main camera, tightshot camera and bench cameras.

  • Courtside space for handheld cameras near the center line opposite team benches. One to three spaces at each endline for handheld cameras with adjacent escape lanes 0.8m wide and 2m long.

 

Additional camera positions could be needed depending on the broadcast requirements of the event which can be built as permanent camera positions or delivered as temporary platforms. An indicative camera setup is shown in the diagram below. In general, a 2m x 2m space should be provided per camera. Camera positions should have a clean, unobstructed view over any spectator who is standing in front with hands raised. The camera lens should be a 2.7m minimum above the seating row in front of the camera. More detailed information and guidance on camera positions and other broadcasting aspects can be found via the FIBA Broadcast Academy.

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Technical services and information technology

Many of the spaces required within a basketball arena and the operations performed there, depend upon a number of utilities, systems, plant and equipment. Whilst these aspects are not direct requirements of basketball, they are critical factors to incorporate into the design and specification of an arena. For most of these factors, the challenge is to balance the peak-load requirements (usually game day when the arena is at capacity) against the risk of (costly) overprovision. Advice should be taken from qualified engineers and specialist consultants in this regard.

 

Power

  • For larger arenas hosting elite competition and regular broadcasts, it is recommended to have two independent sources of grid power. If one source fails when a game is in progress, the venue can switch to the other source and continue.

  • The greatest demands for power are usually from HVAC systems, food and beverage preparations, lighting and broadcasters. Larger arenas should have power capacity for six broadcast trucks, smaller arenas should accommodate two trucks.

  • Emergency generators should be available that can back-up life-safety systems (fire detection, emergency lighting, PA/VA) during grid power failures. It might be possible to add other game day functions (e.g., scoreboards, LED boards) to this emergency back-up, subject to capacity. 

  • For some larger events, an independent and fully redundant power supply may be required for the broadcast compound and other broadcast installations.


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) requirements will vary according to the size of the arena and the local climate. Supply and ventilation air flows should be designed in line with ASHRAE or other local regulations. 

  • The game of basketball requires a benign temperature of 16-28°C (18-22°C for top competitions) and controlled humidity to prevent condensation and damage to the court flooring.

  • For arenas that will regularly host training sessions, community participation or operate at reduced spectator capacity, the HVAC system design should consider how the arena can be efficiently heated or cooled in its different modes.

IT Systems

  • Most systems required for venue, game and broadcast operations rely on a robust, stable internet connectivity. 

  • For larger arenas hosting elite competitions, it is recommended to have a second independent internet connection as a back-up.

  • The second connection should be from a different service provider and shall have a different entry point.

  • Depending on the dimension of the arena, the IT infrastructure should include: 

    • a technology equipment room containing the core internet connectivity into the arena;

    • a robust backbone with pathways to various network equipment rooms located across the arena; and

    • connection points in the main areas within the arena.

  • For some elite competitions, additional network access points should be provided at event level and adjacent to broadcast and media facilities.

  • Wireless (WLAN or WiFi) networks are now universally required and should have sufficient capacity for game day demand. Closed-user networks will be required for media and venue staff to ensure they are not affected by surges in demand from spectators. Spectators increasingly expect to be connected throughout the game and a number of venue services and game engagement activities can be delivered via smart devices.

  • Further details on the technical standards for IT systems can be found via the organizations referenced at the end of this guide. 

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Team Changing Rooms

Changing rooms should provide equal space and facilities for both home and visiting teams. Each room should have a minimum area of 50m2. Changing rooms should be column-free if possible and provide a line of sight to a position for coaches to address each position. The ceiling height should be at least 2.7m with door heights of a least 2.2m. Each team changing room must be located to provide short, secure and separate access to the team bench with no cross-over between the home and visiting teams. Both changing rooms should be located in proximity to interview positions and the press conference room, with separation of teams and media access routes. It is recommended that the team changing rooms include the following: 

  • a minimum of 17 lockers with a recommended size of 900mm wide, 600mm deep, 2.4m tall.  Lockers should provide hanging spaces for uniforms, street clothes and shoes. Personal item storage space should be provided with a digital lock. Each locker should include a convenience power receptacle;

  • benches or chairs for 20 people which should be durable and easily washable;

  • one flat-panel display with HDMI connectivity and dry-erase or similar wall-hung surface for coach use;

  • a game clock;

  • shower facilities with at least six shower heads. Shower heads should be mounted a minimum of 2.5m above the finished floor, with controls 1.3m.;

  • the provision of sanitary facilities should also be compliant with any local regulations. 

  • one full-height mirror;

  • one or two massage/taping tables (minimum dimensions of 0.8m tall, 0.6m  wide and 1.80m in length);

  • one lockable medical cabinet;

  • one refrigerator;

  • one ice machine;

  • access to drinking water; and

  • high-speed wireless and cellular network connectivity.

 

All finishes should be hygienic and easily washable. Anti-microbial carpet materials should be considered where applicable. All shower and washroom facilities must be provided with slip-resistant tile or resilient flooring systems. A partition and ceiling system rating of 45STC (sound transmission class) is recommended to prevent noise escaping from and penetrating into the changing rooms. 

Coaches’ rooms

Equal space and facilities should be provided for home and visiting coaching staff. Coaches’ rooms should be immediately adjacent/connected to the team changing rooms and a minimum of 20m2. It is recommended that the coaches’ rooms include the following: 

  • a minimum of eight lockers (as per player lockers);

  • two WCs and one sink;

  • a chair for each position; 

  • a game clock; and

  • one flat-panel display with HDMI connectivity and dry-erase or similar wall-hung surface.

 

Separation may be required for head coaches and assistant coaches, including accommodations for teams with gender-diverse coaches therefore it is recommended that each coaches’ room  includes separate but immediately adjacent changing rooms that can each accommodate up to three coaches. 

Coaches’ facilities must also meet the standards for finishes and acoustics for team changing rooms. Shower facilities can also be considered for coaching staff.

Officials’ Changing Rooms

Changing rooms for game officials must provide separate facilities for officials of different genders.  

 

A lounge or meeting space connected to male and female areas should be provided. It is recommended that each changing room has a minimum area of 20m2 and the common lounge at least 14m2. The officials’ rooms should have a separate circulation path from those of the teams and coaching staff. It is recommended that officials’ rooms include the following: 

  • A minimum of four lockers with a recommended size of 600mm wide, 600mm deep, 2.4m tall. Lockers should provide hanging spaces for uniforms, street clothes, shoes, and lockable storage for personal items. Each locker should include a convenience power receptacle;

  • a chair for each position;

  • shower facilities with two shower heads, two WCs and two basins in each officials’ room; and

  • access to drinking water.

 

The common lounge should provide a table and chairs for up to eight people and include flat-panel display with HDMI connectivity and a game clock. The lounge should also include power sockets and wired data connectivity, as well as connectivity to a high-speed wireless network.  

 

Medical and doping control

The provision of medical and doping control facilities are essential requirements of elite sport and basketball is no exception. 

 

A dedicated medical room should be provided for players and officials in close proximity to their changing rooms and court access route. As a minimum the room should be able to accommodate an examination bed, have a hand basin with hot and cold water, be well-lit, ventilated and temperature-controlled. Floor and wall surfaces should be hygienic and capable of being washed down, with flooring also having a non-slip finish. The room shall be accessible by stretcher teams and wheelchairs and therefore circulation space should be factored into the design. It is recommended that this room is no smaller than 15m2 and could be up to 30m2. The room should also have a dedicated access route to the ambulance waiting/pick-up point.

 

A doping control room is a space required to test players and to ensure compliance with anti-doping regulations. This space shall be close to the team changing rooms but must also provide privacy for testing and administration procedures.

The doping control room should be split into two areas:

  • a reception and waiting area; and

  • a sample-taking room (or rooms).

 

The reception and waiting area provides access from the external area and a waiting area for the players prior to sample taking. 

 

The sample-taking room shall have a WC with a front-facing mirror and hand basin with hot and cold water. It is usual to provide a shower unit in this room. The sample-taking room shall have a controlled entrance directly from the waiting area.

 

The doping control room should be able to accommodate ten people with at least six seated in the waiting area. It should be well-lit, ventilated and temperature controlled. Floor and wall surfaces should be hygienic and capable of being washed down, with flooring also having a non-slip finish.

 

Medical facilities for spectators and other user groups should be provided in accordance with local regulations but should be separated from player facilities.

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Offices, lounges and meeting rooms

As well as offices and meeting rooms required for the management and operation of the arena, FIBA competitions require dedicated spaces for the administration of these competitions. For major competitions such as the FIBA Basketball World Cup, these requirements are extensive and cover various user groups including VIPs, FIBA Management, LOC Management, Service Providers, and FIBA Technical Officials.

 

As a minimum, it is recommended that arenas hosting professional basketball should provide dedicated office space for a technical delegate and a meeting room for at least ten people (these can be combined). This space should have good access to the players and officials changing rooms and the court.

 

The provision of office space should be driven by the type of competitions and events that the arena is planning to host. It is not usually practical to provide all of the office, lounge and meeting spaces required for larger competitions on a permanent basis. It is however highly recommended that the ability to transform spaces for different competition uses is factored into the detailed design process (see Sub-section 2c). 

Storage and loading areas

Storage facilities should be considered at the design phase. Failure to provide adequate storage can provide operational challenges during the venue’s lifespan, can result in damage to equipment and can cause safety issues. 

 

Where moveable court flooring is installed, a dedicated, separate storage area at court level with temperature and humidity controls shall be provided. If other sports have flooring requirements, these should also be factored in. Storage will also be required for backstop units (both when not in use but also for a spare stand-by unit). These should be in proximity with easy, wide access to the arena bowl. Where seating is removed from the arena bowl, adequate storage space is required. Storage space should be lockable. If other users such as community clubs also require access to storage, it is recommended that separate storage space is provided.

 

Loading areas should provide easy access for trucks and large vehicles from the outside road network. Level access should be provided to the arena floor level to allow for cabinets to be unloaded and wheeled into the arena bowl.

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D. Other considerations for the building and exterior

 

Having covered the playing area, arena bowl and the needs of basketball’s key user groups, other aspects of the arena and its immediate environment are in the focus of this sub-section. 

 

SUSTAINABILITY 

The sustainability of an arena depends on (all of) the following:

  • the consumption of natural resources in the development of the arena;

  • the consumption of natural resources when the arena is operating;

  • the environmental impact of the arena at the end of its lifecycle;

  • the impact the arena has (positive and negative) on its local community;

  • the economic benefits (or costs) of the arena; and

  • meeting any other key objectives such as providing national sporting infrastructure.

 

For an arena to be truly sustainable, the benefits that it provides (sporting, social and economic) must justify the consumption of resources (natural, economic and social). There are many examples of sporting venues being built for specific purposes (e.g., hosting a competition) but then being underutilized over subsequent years. 

 

Arena development

The key factors that will influence the sustainability of the development of an arena are:

  • The site used for the arena, any displacement of vegetation and the re-use of materials. In this context, a refurbishment is normally a more sustainable option than a new-build arena.

  • The materials used in the construction of the arena, especially the embodied carbon. Materials like steel and concrete have high levels of embodied carbon.

  • The supply chain used for the arena, more local supply chains will be more sustainable. Labor force rights and working conditions should be protected (as a minimum) in line with internationally-recognized standards.

  • The management of the site including the impact on the local community, water consumption and waste management. 

 

Green building certificates make a building´s performance internationally-comparable, visible and understood. There are a range of regional certification schemes in different parts of the world which can be adopted. Building regulation authorities and local architects in your area can provide guidance on which scheme to use, depending upon which sustainable outcomes are most relevant to measure. Such certification ensures that sustainability issues are addressed at the design stage and in some cases are a requirement for funding, competition organizers or local authorities. Green building certification is highly recommended for larger arena projects (especially new-builds), indeed the largest arenas should be aiming for advanced levels of certification. For smaller arenas, it can be more effective (both in terms of impact and cost) to undertake a careful review of sustainability issues and opportunities and ensure that appropriate action is taken and monitored. 

 

Arena operations

The key factors that will influence the sustainability of the operations of an arena are:

  • energy consumption (and the source of energy used);

  • water consumption;

  • the management of waste and recycling;

  • the local supply chain used;

  • the mode of travel to the arena (particularly for spectators);

  • the impact of the arena on its local community and surrounding environment; and

  • the intensity with which the arena is used (although this might increase its operational environmental impact, extensive use is required to justify the resources used in the development project).

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Many of these factors are heavily influenced at the planning and design stage of a project which should include in its scope:

  • Design features that reduce energy consumption. These can be passive such as allowing crossflows of air to circulate through the building which reduce the demand for mechanical cooling. Alternatively, active design features require mechanical or technological solutions, such as a building management system that can monitor performance and shut-down appliances when not in use.

  • Design features that reduce water consumption. Again, these can be passive features such as rainwater collection or active such as low-flow sanitary ware.

  • Ensuring that the arena is conveniently located for public transport and pedestrian access.

  • Ensuring that the arena is insulated to prevent sound pollution (particularly if used for entertainment purposes), light spill on the exterior of the building is contained and any wildlife corridors are maintained or enhanced.

  • Factoring in community use into the design of the arena. This can include the arena building but also the surrounding precinct when not used for events.

  • Ensuring that the arena has the flexibility to host a variety of events (see Section 2a).

 

The design stage should also consider the impact of climate change and any adaptations that are required. This can include avoiding sites prone to flooding, providing additional drainage capacity/storm water management and positioning any key features away from locations exposed to high winds.

 

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) “Sustainability Essentials” provides further background information on sustainability in a sporting context and references the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  Arenas can also consider ISO standards for environmental management systems (ISO:14001) and sustainable event management (ISO:20121).

Case study: SEATTLE, USA

Climate Pledge Arena is a multi-use arena and host to elite-level basketball and ice-hockey. It aims to be the first zero-carbon arena in the world by incorporating the following factors:

 

  • consuming energy from renewable-only sources (on-site and off-site solar) for its daily use;

  • a commitment to eliminate single-use plastics such as plastic bags and drink bottles. Refill stations provide free drinking water for reusable vessels:

  • managing water consumption:

    • installing water efficient showers and sanitary ware; and

    • harvesting rainwater and using it to form the ice rink.

  • on-site water retention reduces stormwater run-off;

  • zero waste to landfill achieved through supply chain liaison and selection; and

  • free public transport available to ticket holders. The retention of its downtown location also means it can continue to tap into existing infrastructure and systems.

 

The redevelopment of the arena took the form of a new seating bowl being installed under the original roof structure, hence saving on the resources needed.

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BUILDING REGULATIONS – LOCAL BUILDING CODES

Most countries have different building codes which define minimum standards of design and construction for different building types. Arenas are commonly classified as indoor leisure venues even though their public capacities are much greater than those of theatres and museums to which the same codes are also applied. It is recommended that local building and fire protection code requirements are reviewed in the early design stages.

 

Building codes regulate fire protection as follows:

  • The major structural elements of the building including all exit routes must be of a fireproof material which (as a minimum) contains fire for the length of time needed to evacuate the building. Materials which can produce smoke or fumes when exposed to fire must not be used. 

  • The dimensions, quantity and locations of exit routes used both in regular access and emergency evacuation (or invacuation). These will be based on the spectator capacity of the arena. There should be a minimum of two exits for spectators in case that one exit is affected by any damage or incident. Emergency exit doors should never be locked and exit routes must be free of any obstructions. 

  • The codes provide requirements for fire detection and alarm systems which direct spectators to the exits. 

  • The codes establish a minimum evacuation time. 

 

ACCESSIBILITY 

Building codes will normally have been adapted to ensure equal access across all sections of society, known as accessibility. A social model of disability should be adopted - this puts the focus on the person rather than the disability. The objective of accessible design is to remove or mitigate any disabling factors from the user’s environment. These factors can include steps, steep gradients, high counters, narrow entrances or devices located at an inappropriate height. If these disabling factors cannot be eliminated or mitigated, then alternative access or facilities should be provided. However, this should be implemented to avoid separating users with disabilities from others, often parties visiting the arena will have a mix of users with and without accessibility requirements.

 

There are many users who require or benefit from accessible design such as wheelchair users, people with limited mobility and partially sighted or blind persons. The whole user journey should be considered from arrival at the arena, viewing positions (considered in Sub-section 3c), other facilities and through to departure. Where possible, this should include arrival at local transport hubs even if these are beyond the footprint of the arena site. 

 

Accessibility should be applied to all users of the venue and not just spectators. Arenas might be used for wheelchair basketball or other accessible sports. Coaching staff, workforce and members of the media might also benefit from accessible design. 

Further guidance on accessible venues can be found in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Accessibility Guide (4th Edition).

 

ENTRANCES AND EXITS 

Building codes will specify minimum standards for public access and circulation routes, entrances and emergency evacuation routes.

 

Basketball (particularly at the elite level) requires the ability to separate key user groups. This separation not only requires space allocation (e.g., different rooms) but separation of access, circulation and exits. This separation should be applied to:

  • players, coaches and officials (including separation of competing teams);

  • broadcast and media;

  • spectators;

  • workforce; and

  • logistics.

 

This separation should be addressed at the design stage with an appropriate number of entrances and exits. For arenas anticipating hosting major competitions, additional separation is likely to be required for groups such as VIPs which should
be factored into the design. 

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SAFETY AND SECURITY

Arenas are places where thousands of people gather and therefore security and safety are of the highest importance.

 

Arena design needs to consider the safety of all users to minimize the risk of harm from accidents, people flows or the arena environment. Security is required to protect people and the building from external threats such as acts of terrorism, unauthorized access, protests and acts of violence. Unfortunately, history has shown that arenas and sporting venues have been targeted for horrific acts with fatal consequences.

 

Whilst many aspects of safety and security are delivered as part of venue operations, the following aspects should be considered at the design stage:

  • It is becoming increasingly common for security searches to take place on entering the arena and in some cases temporary or permanent fencing is used to create a security perimeter outside the venue. The space (including queueing areas), infrastructure and equipment required should therefore be considered.

  • Site planning should avoid aspects that will make it difficult to exclude non-arena users such as public rights of way or being immediately adjacent to transport hubs.

  • The separation of user groups is also vital for this purpose and appropriate emergency exit routes or securable safe spaces (e.g., changing rooms) should be considered.

  • CCTV is an increasingly common method of monitoring and deterring unauthorized activity. It requires clean lines of sight within and immediately outside the venue and a robust fiber-optic backbone.

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