Sporting arenas turned art venues need to mitigate these three perils

Sporting arenas turned art venues need to mitigate these three perils

High-end restaurants have in the past offered something else to their patrons besides serving up delicious food, with some displaying valuable artwork on their walls. Now, sports venues are also jumping on this bandwagon, becoming homes for high-value pieces of art.

“Sports arenas are becoming more sophisticated,” said Joe Dunn, president and CEO of Huntington T. Block (HTB). “It’s more about an event if you will, and so they’re offering multiple kinds of services. They’re offering not just the sporting event itself, but there could be an event or performance areas for music or theatre perhaps. Food is usually associated with sporting events, but maybe they’re offering a higher quality of food now. I think it’s natural that there’d be a tendency to propose installing high-valued art.”

Some artwork is by its nature more resilient to potentially damaging forces, such as statues, but other types of art, like paintings, present unique challenges when displayed in a non-conventional space.

“Whether it’s in a museum or a restaurant or in a sporting venue, there are really six principal perils,” explained Dunn. “Fire, sunlight, flood, wind – otherwise known as hurricanes – theft or inventory control, and then temperature and humidity.”

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When you compare a sporting venue to a museum, common sense will tell you that there are going to be different challenges. The first factor to consider is the crowd.

“The number of patrons attending a museum exhibition – just the sheer volume of people involved in that, by the nature of museums and even with blockbuster exhibitions – is going to be different than from a massive sporting arena, [as are] the attendees at one of those events,” said Dunn. “Typically, museum guests on average tend to be perhaps a bit older than what you would see at a sporting event.”

The number of people is going to have a bearing on the perils of fire, theft, and temperature and humidity control. The HTB team would look for fire alarms connected to the local municipal fire department as well as fire protection infrastructure that includes fire hydrants and fire suppression systems that could be deployed in a sporting venue.

In a museum, you could quickly evacuate people, close off the gallery, and release argon gas into the gallery so that it forces out the oxygen, extinguishing the fire and ensuring little damage to the collection. However, in a sporting venue, the fire suppression system would have to use water because of the volume of people packed together in a large space, thus resulting in a different underwriting requirement.

From a theft standpoint, CCTV would be important, as would burglar alarms and sensor technology specifically designed to raise alerts of art theft.

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Finally, there’s temperature and humidity control to consider.

“Swings in temperature and humidity can destabilize the paintings and it’s important that doesn’t happen, so you have to have the right HVAC system in place to allow for that,” said Dunn. “From a museum standpoint, in a typical gallery, they don’t want the humidity to fluctuate below 25% or above 65% humidity, and 45% humidity is what’s considered in an academic sense ideal for a typical painting. From a temperature standpoint, the ideal temperature is between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Nonetheless, it’s easier to maintain temperature and humidity standards in a museum than it would be in a large sporting arena, so venues would need to have an adequate HVAC system to maintain that temperature and then sensors to make sure that the temperature is in fact being maintained.

“Those are the safety underwriting protocols that we would be looking for, and anybody who’s developing or building or responsible for running a sporting arena, if they’re going to integrate high-end art into the arena, they’d want to make sure that they have those protocols in place,” said Dunn. “If a painting is installed and it’s not being moved once it’s installed, we call that a stay risk, and the likelihood of there being a loss if those protocols are in place is fairly minimal. But, if there is let’s say a fire or something, we want to make sure that those are in place.”