As they work on the renovation of the Enterprise Center, the St. Louis Blues and lead architect Generator Studio are keeping all fans in mind. While the latest round of renovations has led to the introduction of several new premium areas, the upgrades include plenty of unique spaces that can be used by all fans.
Prior to the 2017-18 NHL season, the Blues began a multiphase renovation of what was then known as the Scottrade Center. (A new 15-year naming-rights agreement between the Blues and Enterprise went into effect this year.) Phase one saw the introduction of some fan amenities—such as a new videoboard, Theater Boxes, and more—but also emphasized upgrades to back-end areas like the team locker room, technology, and arena infrastructure. Phase two, however, is marked by its strong emphasis on the fan experience.
Creating a New Experience for All Fans
The last few years have several major, multiphase arena renovation projects around the NHL. In most cases, the onus has been on improving many areas of the facility, from its aesthetics and player facilities to fan areas. Fan experience improvements can often take the form of premium area upgrades, as teams work to modernize and diversify their slate of clubs, seating, and suites.
Enterprise Center’s latest improvements addressed its premium areas, but the scope of the project is one that will be evident to all fans. That is something that officials from Generator believe separates the latest renovation work from similar projects.
“What makes Enterprise Center unique, and especially in terms of the work that we did as part of phase two, was upgrading of the fan experience for everyone,” said Senior Project Manager Gretchen Blain, AIA. “That was really an important aspect of this phase of work to the Enterprise Center team, as they wanted to improve the fan experience for all people who come to the arena.”
One of the key tasks completed in the project was the conversion of the arena’s former atrium along Clark Avenue. The space was infilled at two different levels, allowing for the addition of a variety of amenities. That included a retail store and a gathering space known as The District on the Mezzanine level, which offers a striking view of downtown St. Louis.
In another major addition, the Enterprise Center now features the new Anheuser-Busch Biergarten. Located just inside the 14th Street Entrance, this area will open 90 minutes before game time and stay in business for up to two hours after its conclusion. (The Blues will stage pre and post-game events there, and at the new Bud Lite Sports Pub on the Club Level.) Across the beer garden in the arena’s interior is a new viewing deck, overlooking the ice. The arena also underwent a total seat replacement on its Mezzanine Level.
Tailoring the Experience for Different Groups
Part of the objective with this round of upgrades for the Enterprise Center was addressing needs within the facility and creating new aspects of the fan experience. The Biergarten, The District and other components reflect that trend, but working premium areas into the facility was part of the process as well.
According to Senior Project Designer Jill Monaghan, AIA, Generator Studio worked closely with the team to map out the building’s additions. Through that process, one of the goals was to ensure that the new areas within the arena reflected the desires of different types of fans.
As a result, the premium spaces “are tailored to a different experience and a different user group,” according to Monaghan. “So that includes somebody that wants a really high-end, intimate cocktail atmosphere versus somebody that wants more of a sports bar or a sports pub environment. We kind of looked at those as providing different types of experiences in the building.”
That allowed project officials to work different elements into the renovation. As a result, the Biergarten and The District are joined by several distinct premium areas.
One of the new premium areas is The Bommarito Automotive Group Lounge (above). Located on the Club Level, the space offers table and box seating, along with all-inclusive food, beer, wine, spirits and is connected to the Bud Lite Sports Pub.
Another major addition is the Scott Credit Union Rinkside Club on the Event Level, a new area that serves as a dedicated space for rinkside and glass seat ticket holders.
Creating a Unique Project
There has been a wave of arena renovations around the NHL in recent years. Generator Studio has been involved in a few notable projects, including upgrades to Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena and Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center. (A 2016 story on Arena Digest took an extensive look at the firm’s involvement in upgrades at Amalie Arena.)
While this may mark its latest NHL facility project, Generator Studio views the Enterprise Center as a unique endeavor and not a model of another renovation. According to project officials, the scope of the renovations was shaped by the distinct desires of the Blues and needs for the Enterprise Center.
“No, not really,” Monaghan said when asked if any past projects served as a model for Enterprise Center renovations. “And I feel comfortable saying that because as one of our tenets of design at Generator Studio, we shape our projects and our process based on our clients’ goals and their needs. We’ve had experience renovating other arenas and multipurpose facilities, and we’ve had experience working on other similar projects to a smaller scale, but in the case of Enterprise Center our goals and our process and everything that came out of phase one and is going into phase two and from there on out has come directly from working with the team and hearing what their goals are.”
Work on the latest round of renovations was conducted under a tight schedule. Construction began in June, with the arena reopening on September 13 for a Maroon 5 concert and a Blues’ preseason game following on September 21.
Working on that schedule was one of the challenges in the process, but Generator credited the Blues with serving as a strong partner.
“I would say that the Blues have been a great partner,” said Blain. “They’re very engaged and understanding in terms of what they want, and so they’re understanding the really tight schedule everyone was under over the summer.”
In fact, the work at the arena is not finished. Enterprise Center will undergo its next phase of renovations after this season. The exact plans for that round of upgrades are still taking shape, but Generator believes that it can continue to work the Blues to complete the project smoothly.
“Phase two has really been about the fan experience, giving them a variety of offerings, improving the public gatherings areas, the food beverage options, and all of that,” Monaghan said. “Everything was targeted based on the goals that we set in the very beginning, and that’s how we make sure that we manage it all the way through the process so that we have a cohesive story at the end of the day.”
Renderings courtesy Generator Studio.
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