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The Inverted Bowl by ROSSETTI Looks to Reinvent Upper Decks

Nosebleeds no more, said Matt Rossetti, architect of a new “inverted bowl” design he said can reimagine the way arena construction, siting and seating all occurs.

After spending seven years on the design process, walking through construction and engineering feasibility and multiple design iterations, Rossetti’s eponymous firm unveiled the inverted bowl design this week. “It is going to be incredible for everything,” he said. “This thing is going to be so frickin’ cool.”

As a way to eliminate the drawbacks of an upper bowl—everything from seats that stray far from the action and the space-hogging it takes to build so far out—the Detroit-based firm wanted something different. The result comes in the inverted bowl design that places a modern twist on opera houses of old. In the Rossetti design, four separate balconies, all interconnected, offer up to three rows of seating all around an arena. These balconies can stack atop each other, up to four or five levels, with a walkway behind that can serve to host premium space, bars and escalators to travel from level to level.

“It is like a series of balcony decks,” he said. “It is certainly not an upper deck, but a series of balconies.”

And it isn’t just for small arenas. Rossetti said that they figure the optimum size is an arena seating around 17,000, although the inverted bowl works for venues looking to house up to 19,000. In the ideal 17,000-seat configuration, expect to place between 9,000 and 10,000 seats in the lower bowl and then, by stacking four balconies on top of each other around the venue, another 7,500 seats can find their way to the balconies, flexible for venue owners to ticket however they like.

“You could have this format where you have general admission for the front rows anywhere around the balcony or in quadrants,” Rossetti said. “We are thinking with the move toward a socialized setting, the idea allows (patrons) to travel and move from position to position.” With only two or three rows deep, it also makes it easy for folks to get up and walk around much easier, engaging in the bar-like space potentially housed in the rear of the balcony design.

Rossetti said the design pulls the first row of the balconies 50-percent closer to the playing surface for broadcast-quality views. The design also eliminates single-use circulation concourses isolated from the bowl and offers diverse entertainment opportunities. Without the need to grade upper bowls away from the center, the design allows for a smaller construction footprint and at less cost. Without the need for massive cranes building upper decks—these balconies all come in lightweight steel, buildable with boom lifts—Rossetti said they can reduce steel tonnage up to 22 percent with a footprint 18-percent smaller than a similar capacity venue, all with a quicker construction time.

“We wanted to create more flexibility in a venue’s real estate and provide owners with an adaptable solution for different types of events while creating new experiences for spectators,” Rossetti said. He said the idea really started to take shape as they explored ideas for eSports, but the concept works equally well for basketball, hockey or concerts. “The performers will feel surrounded by the audience,” he said.

Rossetti said they worked through safety issues and have a feature ready to employ that ensures no tumbling out of the balcony seating. He said the sightline issue was a difficult challenge, which limits the depth of rows to three. “It is really taking this same concept they did with fabulous balcony positions and opera boxes,” he said.

The inverted bowl, then, removes the nosebleeds without removing capacity and adds a new way to experience a live event.

This blog was adapted from an article by Tim Newcomb for Venues Today. To be directed to the original article, please click here