In this episode of the Sport Lifestyle Podcast, we speak with Jon Niemuth, Vice-President for AECOM Sports, Americas. Aecom, via its acquisitions of Tishman and Hunt Construction, is one of the leading construction companies when it comes to sports facilities of all shapes, sizes, and uses. They have constructed some of the most iconic stadiums and arenas in the world including Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. More recently they were one of the main contractors for the new combined Chargers/Rams stadium in Inglewood, CA. Our conversation focused on keeping fans safe and healthy in a Covid-19 environment with social distancing and other requirements. Jon has been speaking to all of their stadium owners and teams and trying to understand their needs and what it will take to accomplish the goal of keeping fans safe while still making the in-stadium fan experience fun and enjoyable. His main piece of advice was to not make any hasty or snap decisions.
15:47 – Jon Nieumuth’s background: “Architect by training, did my grad and undergrad at Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Then really just had a fascination with really large scale projects, development cities, and it was very serendipitous, just a friend of a friend ended up in Kansas city working for the sports design group of then Ellerbe Becket.”
19:29 – AECOM’s core philosophy: “So we’re bringing project development. We actually will develop projects in partnership with clients so we can understand what their goals are from a balance sheet perspective, a business plan, and then we’ll put together the pieces and parts that work to drive the revenue, sort of minimize the capital outlay for construction or operations.”
27:51 – Event adaptation to COVID: “We’re already seeing that we, as a people are starting to accept some what I would say some really interesting experiences in support of seeing something happen live.”
30:27 – Focus on player operations first: “You can have live sports without fans. It may not be great, but we can have live sports and the experience might be different. We can engage apps and streaming and different different devices to enrich that experience.”
32:38 – John’s favourite venue: “Being from Wisconsin, my favorite venue is Lambeau field. There isn’t, there isn’t a better cathedral in sport than Lambeau field.”
36:57 – Embracing technology in venues: “What would you do if we gave you more capacity than you could possibly dream of? That is a perspective that is rare almost to like less than less than five owners in all of pro sports.”