It’s no secret that professional sport is big business in the United States. Various leagues including the NFL, MLB, the NBA, the NHL, and increasingly MLS generate huge amounts of revenue and shape city and state economies. And that’s just the professional leagues. College football, basketball, baseball, and softball might not technically be considered professional, but NCAA sports keep many universities and colleges in the black through their impressive ability to generate short-term dollars and ensure long-term alumni loyalty and interest. The stadiums are almost as beloved and legendary as the teams themselves. Think of the images and the memories associated with Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, Wrigley Field, the Polo Grounds, Candlestick Park, Soldier Field, and old Ebbets Field. Some of these iconic stadiums are still with us, some are not, but all were beloved places to spend an afternoon and important locations in the geography of the American imagination.
If you’re a university administrator or a team owner you might just be trying to build a field of dreams of your own, and if so, you’ll know it’s not as easy as “build it and they will come.” Getting the venue right means having a place where players want to play, and where fans want to spend their afternoons. Not getting the venue right can hurt player recruitment for years, if not decades, and an alienated fan base. And every modern day facility isn’t just displaying sports, it’s also housing meeting rooms in the form of corporate boxes, and providing a complex array of catering and dining services. On top of that there are often unique financing issues: putting the money behind a new stadium is a strange, complex process, often involving a mixture of funds coming from very different parts of an institution, a city, or a state.
Here’s the list that might save you at least one headache. Focusing on this very unique, very American market, we’ve put together a list of the 14 best sports facility contractors in the country. These are the companies that built Madison Square Garden, the new Yankee Stadium, and provided a home for the stunningly successful New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. Aside from those mega projects, a number have worked with numerous Ivy League universities on smaller venues. This list was compiled based on merit, media presence, clientele, experience, the range of services, client reviews, and the number of projects the firm has completed. It’s a good list for building a sports stadium, but it’s also a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most impressive—and lucrative—aspects of American popular culture.
14) Suffolk Construction
525 Market St. Suite 2850, San Francisco, CA 94105
Suffolk is a national building construction management firm servicing clients in key industry sectors, including commercial, residential, aviation, education, healthcare, science and technology, senior living, entertainment, gaming and sports. Suffolk leverages the most sophisticated technologies such as virtual design and construction (VDC), virtual reality, augmented reality, and data/analytics to deliver value for clients. The company’s unique “plan and control” delivery method allows for earlier collaboration with designers to align expectations, sophisticated modeling to solve constructability issues sooner in the process, more collaborative and tightly-integrated trade coordination, and flawless execution in the field.
The firm’s work has been featured in national trade publications, including its Jade Signature project which was named by international architecture magazine Dezeen as one of the “ten best skyscrapers in the world.” Suffolk’s most recent sports-related project was the new, state-of-the-art multipurpose arena for Bentley University which earned LEED Platinum certification and received the highest possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the most environmentally sustainable arena in the nation. Building Design + Construction named Suffolk the 20th largest sports facility construction management firm in the country.
560 Mission St. Suite 700, San Francisco CA 94105
Established in 1946, ARUP is comprised of a team of highly-skilled, independent designers, engineers, planners, and technical specialists. It employs over 14,000 of these talented craftsmen throughout nearly 34 countries and is best known for its ambitious feats in engineering and its contributions to urban development. Founded by Ove Arup, the firm has constructed nearly 60 iconic sports complexes and facilities throughout the world. These include the Paul Brown Stadium and the University of Pennsylvania Penn Park.
The firm boasts 90 fields of expertise and is the proud recipient of numerous awards. Throughout its years in the industry, it has had its work featured on the Engineering News-Record and has been recognized for its sustainability efforts, its design, and its construction management work.
12) Tutor Perini
15901 Olden St., Sylmar, CA 91342
Tutor Perini offers pre-construction, project management, and engineering services, in addition to excavation, concrete, ventilation, and air conditioning. The firm is also forward-thinking, offering virtual design and green building. Aside from sports facilities, its core markets include aviation, commercial build-outs, higher education, healthcare, and hospitality construction. With over 125 years of experience, the firm is a family-owned, award-winning business, and has worked on multi-million dollar projects both locally and internationally. During its early years, it was one of the first firms behind the Interstate Highway Program. It also notably worked on the transformation of Madison Square Garden and provided several impressive enhancements to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The firm’s portfolio showcases a variety of large-scale stadiums, grandiose arenas, and high-tech facilities. These projects have been featured in several publications, and have contributed to Tutor Perini’s high national rankings in a number of areas.
3555 Farnam St., Omaha, NE 68131
Kiewit, an employee-owned Fortune 500 company, consistently ranks among the Engineering News-Record’s ten largest firms each year. It has a virtually unlimited bonding capacity and has taken on large-scale projects amounting to billions. The firm primarily specializes in office buildings, industrial complexes, hospitals, mixed-use projects, and of course, sports and entertainment facilities. Its services include general construction, construction management, and project development. The firm also has more than a billion dollars worth of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) construction experience. Furthermore, its clients can rest easy knowing that each project it takes on receives the attention of at least one of its owners. For the past ten years, the firm has worked on over 1,100 vertical construction projects and has accrued nearly $7.5 billion in revenue.
The firm favors a design-build approach. Currently led by Bruce Grewcock, the firm has worked on numerous arenas and stadiums, including iconic Gillette Stadium. Home to the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution, this facility is worth $325 million and has a seating capacity of nearly 68,000.
Empire State Building 350 Fifth Ave. 32nd Floor, New York, NY 10118
Skanska caters to a wide range of markets and through the years has worked on multiple noteworthy projects. From airports to hospitals to large-scale commercial build-outs to state-of-the-art sports facilities: Skanska is one of the largest, most diverse, most capable firms in the country. With over 11,000 employees locally and nearly 40,000 globally, the firm brings in nearly $7.3 billion annually. Headquartered in New York, the firm has 31 offices in the country’s metro areas and has been recognized by the Engineering News-Record as the eighth largest building manufacturer and third largest heavy contractor in the nation. It employs over 400 LEED-Accredited professionals and has worked on over 125 green building and LEED certified projects.
Its portfolio includes the Metlife Stadium, the Jones Beach Theater, and the Raleigh Convention Center, to name just a few. The firm also works on full-scale renovations and restorations.
9) Barton Malow Company
26500 American Dr., Southfield, MI 48034
Barton Malow focuses on architecture, interior design, preconstruction, and technology services. The firm extends its work to a wide range of markets which cover higher education, energy, healthcare, and industrial facilities, in addition to its impressive sports complexes. The firm is best known for its innovative solutions, with its work often being characterized by the unique process the firm uses to finish a particular project. The firm uses several virtual design and construction methods including Building Information Modeling (BIM) to ensure the quality of its work. These methods allow the firm to improve its overall performance towards a project and even boost its logistics, design, and overall project coordination.
The firm has been recognized multiple times with various awards. In 2016, it received the Outstanding Engineering Project Award from the American Society for Civil Engineers for one of its parks. During that same year, one of its projects was also named “Sports Facility of the Year” by the Sports Business Journal. The firm is often nationally ranked and has been featured several times in the Engineering News-Record and Building Design+Construction.
8) JE Dunn Construction
Website | 816.474.8600 | 1001 Locust Street, Kansas City, MI 64106
Established in 1924, JE Dunn Construction began as a small residential contractor in Kansas City, Missouri before growing and becoming one of the nation’s largest general contracting firms. Today, the firm has over 20 offices nationwide, and $2.7 billion a year in revenue. The firm specializes in commercial, healthcare, industrial, aviation, and of course, sports facilities, offering a wide and competitive range of services all based in a design-build approach. The firm also uses the latest technology at its disposal to create a better, more streamlined process. Some of its most notable projects include the South Dakota State University Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, the San Antonio Spurs’ training facility, and the Boy Scouts of America Base Camp.
JE Dunn Construction has been featured in both Forbes and the Engineering News-Record, with the latter hailing it as the Midwest Contractor of the Year. The firm was also recognized by Building Design+Construction as the 15th largest sports facility contractor in the country.
7) Shawmut Design and Construction
444 East Warm Springs Rd. Suite 102, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Shawmut Design and Construction has offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, and those offices are staffed with a highly-skilled and experienced team that has completed numerous complex projects. The firm’s portfolio presents a showcase of commercial build-outs, historic buildings, healthcare facilities, educational campuses, sports venues, retail outlets, and even luxury residential homes. The firm’s CEO, Les Hiscoe, is a professional engineer who has served on the Board of Directors of Rebuilding Together New York City and the ACE Mentor Program New York. Under his leadership, the firm had the honor of receiving Engineering News-Record’s Best Project distinction on two separate occasions.
It takes pride in being the only firm in the country to have had the chance to work in all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. Its portfolio includes an extensive gallery of sporting venues, fitness centers, and other athletic facilities. It has also worked on several “fan experience” spaces in stadiums. These primarily consist of roof deck bars and special places located within stadiums for fans looking for a creative, social way to enjoy a game.
300 East Joppa Rd., Baltimore, MD 21286
Led by Timothy Reagan, Whiting-Turner provides construction management and general contracting services, using a design-build approach for each project it undertakes. Since its inception in 1909, the firm has built a nationwide presence, opening several office locations on both coasts. It employs over 2,900 skilled professionals and manages a bonding capacity of nearly $4 billion. The firm has been featured on both Forbes and the Engineering News-Record, in addition to being the proud recipient of the 2015 Keystone Award. With an estimated $62 million in sports revenues in 2017, Building Design+Construction ranks Whiting-Turner as the 16th largest sports contractor in the country.
Aside from sports and entertainment contracting, the firm also extends its services to a wide range of other industries, from retail and mixed-use structures to industrial, office, and healthcare facilities. Some of its noteworthy projects include the M&T Bank Stadium, which holds over 70,000 seats for the Baltimore Ravens, and the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
5) MA Mortenson Construction
700 Meadow Ln., N Minneapolis, MN 55422
MA Mortenson is best known for its sustainability and green building practices, and its talented development team. Established in 1954 by M. A. Mortenson, Sr., the firm focuses on a wide range of markets including aviation, corporate offices, data centers, entertainment venues, healthcare facilities, and naturally, sports facilities. It is the firm behind the inception of the US Bank Stadium, Suntrust Park, FedEx Forum, and the Pepsi Center. The firm has been recognized multiple times throughout its years in the industry. It has received numerous awards from the Design-Build Institute of America for its craftsmanship, in addition to having been featured in several publications like the Engineering News-Record, which has acknowledged the firm with several “Best Project” distinctions.
In addition to its green building practices, the firm is also known for its use of technology. It uses a Virtual Design and Construction process for design, as well as Building Information Modeling (BIM); better designs in a shorter span of time lead to more efficient, elegant results. The firm also incorporates a methodical communication system into its programs for better contact with each client.
1999 Ave. of the Stars Suite 2600, Los Angeles, CA 90067
AECOM is known for its work on iconic skyscrapers, city planning, energy, and water conservation, and the global presence it brings to those projects. The firm has been on Fortune Magazine’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies” for five consecutive years, and it was recently named the number one design firm in the country by Engineering News-Record. The firm also made approximately $20.2 billion in revenue in 2018, making it unsurprising that the Fortune 500 ranks the firm as the 164th largest enterprise in America. Providing services to over 150 countries, AECOM offers a full range of services and has provided work for nearly every major market sector. The company is a major player in transportation, commercial, mixed-use, environmental, energy, high-rise buildings, and government structures while completing work that is distinctively its own.
The firm has worked on countless important buildings since its establishment in 1990, including The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, for example, which features a retractable roof. The firm was also the brains behind the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ masterplan. The firm handled every aspect of the Rio stadiums, from inception to maintenance, to renovation. The firm has also worked on several collegiate venues, arenas, and, as you can see below, convention centers and entertainment facilities.
3) Clark Construction Group
7500 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814
Clark Construction Group was established in 1906 as a small local road excavator and eventually expanded into construction work. Although it still considers itself a local builder, the firm has managed to make a national name for itself, having established several offices across the country. The firm employs 4,200 employees, and maintains a diverse portfolio, showcasing projects of all sizes and complexities. From intricate interior renovations to complex civil and industrial structures, the firm’s experience in a wide range of sectors proves its capacity to take on any project.
The firm is the recipient of over 15 sustainability awards, 19 Design-Build Institute of America Awards, and 8 ABC National Excellence in Construction Eagle Awards. The Engineering News-Record also names it as the 11th leading contractor nationwide, and the 2nd best green builder in the country. Some of its most notable projects include the LA Live & Nokia Theater in California, FedEx Field, and Byrd Stadium in Maryland.
2) Brasfield & Gorrie
3021 7th Ave., S Birmingham, AL 35233
Headquartered in Alabama, Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the largest privately held firms in the United States. The firm initially started taking on small commercial remodeling projects, before setting its sights on larger scale work, such as greater commercial build-outs, as well as institutional, healthcare, and industrial projects. The firm eventually opened offices in Georgia and Florida, resulting in 12 full-service offices in eight states. Today, Brasfield & Gorrie has over 3,000 employees and brings in an estimated annual income of over $2 billion; each of its projects has an average value of $14 million. The firm has been recognized with numerous awards and has been featured in publications like the Engineering News-Record, ENR Southeast, and the Building Design + Construction Giants 300, all of which have included the firm on their annual list of leading contractors.
With over 55 years of experience, Brasfield & Gorrie works on both new construction and full-scale remodels of sports complexes. It was the firm behind the Atlanta Hawks and Emory Sports Medicine Complex, the official training facility for the Atlanta Hawks. It was also one of the firms behind the construction of the SunTrust Park.
1) Turner Construction Company
375 Hudson St. 6th Flr., New York, NY 10014
Turner Construction annually completes over 1,500 projects worth $12 billion and is best known for its design-build and Building Information Modeling (BIM) services. The firm builds in a vast range of markets, including the sports and entertainment sector, but also in aviation, higher education, government, and arts and culture facilities. It has also worked on a number of healthcare institutes, industrial buildings, and hospitality developments. With a staff comprised of over 6,000 people, the firm offers the support and accessibility you expect from a small, local firm, but also has the capacity, skill, and expertise of a multinational construction company. Turner has been decorated with numerous accolades throughout its years in service. Most notably and most recently, it was named by the Engineering News-Record as the number one green builder in the country. Building Design + Construction, on the other hand, named it the number one general contractor in the nation in terms of healthcare, higher education, office, and hotel construction, and number three in sports facility contracting.
The firm has worked on a number of iconic sports complexes. Most notably, it was the firm behind the full-scale renovation of the legendary Madison Square Garden. Moreover, it was also the manpower behind two of the most intriguing sports venue replacements in American sports history. They constructed Levi’s Stadium, the most recent home of San Francisco’s beloved 49ers, successor to Candlestick Park. And for building new digs for the oldest, most hated, most beloved, and most storied franchise in America—the NY Yankees—the firm was honored with McGraw Hill Publication’s “Project of the Year” Award for New York Construction in 2009.