American Football Database
Number of locationsKansas City (USA) (Headquarters)
London, (UK)
Brisbane (Australia)
New York, San Francisco, Denver, Boston, Knoxville (USA)
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
New Delhi (India)
Bhubaneswar (India)
Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Area servedWorld
Services* Sports, events, conference and exhibition centre architecture
  • Interior design
  • Environmental Branding
  • Wayfinding
  • Events planning
  • Overlay
  • Masterplanning
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Sustainable design consulting
  • Facilities operations analysis

Populous is a global architectural firm specializing in the design of sports facilities and convention centers, as well as planning of major special events.

The firm enjoys a dominant role in the design of sporting stadiums and arenas, including such globally prominent facilities as the new Yankee Stadium in New York, Wembley Stadium in London, Stadium Australia in Sydney, Wimbledon Centre Court, Minneapolis' Target Field, San Francisco's AT&T Park, Duluth's AMSOIL Arena,Chicago's United Center arena, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, Houston's Reliant Stadium, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, Philippine Arena in Manila, the renovation of Chicago's Wrigley Field, University of Phoenix Stadium, the renovation of Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup, London's 2012 Olympic Stadium, Miami's Sun Life Stadium, Ascot Racecourse, New York's Citi Field, Benfica's Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff,the O2 Arenas in London, Berlin, and Dublin, the renovation of Kyle Field on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Populous formerly operated as HOK Sport Venue Event, which was part of the HOK Group. In January 2009, Populous was created through a management buyout, becoming independently owned and operated. It is reported to be one of the largest architecture firms in the world.[1][2][3]


File:HOK Sports.svg

Logo of the former HOK Sports

HOK under Jerry Sincoff created its sports group in 1983 (initially called the Sports Facilities Group and later changed to HOK Sport Venue Event). The firm initially consisted of eight architects in Kansas City, and grew to employ 185 people by 1996.[4]

On several projects, HOK Sport had teamed with international design practice LOBB Partnership, which maintained offices in London, England, and Brisbane, Australia. On HOK Sport's 15th anniversary in November 1998, the firm merged with LOBB. The new practice retained headquarters in all three cities.

The Kansas City, Missouri, office was first based in the city's Garment District in the Lucas Place office building.[5] In 2005, it moved into its current headquarters at 300 Wyandotte in the River Market neighborhood in a new building it designed, on land developed as an urban renewal project through tax incentives from the city's Planned Industrial Expansion Authority. It was the first major company to relocate to the neighborhood in several decades.[6]

The company is one of several Kansas City-based sports design firms that trace their roots to Kivett and Myers which designed the Truman Sports Complex which was one of the first modern large single purpose sports stadiums (previously, stadiums were designed for multipurpose use). Other firms with sports design presence in Kansas City that trace their roots to Kivett include Ellerbe Becket Inc. and HNTB Corp.. 360 Architecture is also based in Kansas City.[7]

"Retro" era of baseball parks

File:Oriole Park Conway Street.JPG

The red brick facade of Camden Yards was designed by Populous to blend in to the surrounding neighborhood of downtown Baltimore, especially the nearby B&O Warehouse.

Populous is credited for spearheading a new era of baseball park design in the 1990s, beginning with Oriole Park at Camden Yards.[8] At Camden Yards, and in other stadiums built by Populous soon thereafter like Coors Field and Progressive Field, the ballpark was designed to incorporate aesthetic elements of the city's history and older "classic ballparks." Camden Yards's red brick facade emulates the massive B&O Warehouse that dominates the right field view behind Eutaw Street,[9] whereas Progressive Field's glass and steel exterior "call to mind the drawbridges and train trestles that crisscross the nearby Cuyahoga River."[10] Starting with the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati in 2003, a number of Populous Sport's stadiums featured more contemporary and even futuristic designs. Subsequent stadium exteriors featuring this motif opened in Washington and Minnesota.[8]

In addition to moving away from the concrete exteriors of the "cookie-cutter" multi-purpose stadiums that preceded the new parks, Populous incorporated other innovative touches: natural grass playing surfaces (instead of artificial turf), asymmetrical field dimensions, various park-specific idiosyncrasies (like Tal's Hill), and less foul territory that would keep fans farther from the diamond.[11][12][13] And because the stadiums were designed for baseball instead of several sports, the sightlines were "uniformly excellent."[14]

Camden Yards was not only hugely popular with baseball fans. The success of a new ballpark in downtown Baltimore convinced many cities to invest public funds in their own new ballparks to help revitalize struggling urban neighborhoods.[13] From 1992 to 2012, HOK Sport/Populous were the lead architects on 14 Major League Baseball stadiums and helped renovate four existing stadiums.[15]


Populous's designs across Major League Baseball have become so prevalent that some critics have asserted that the distinctiveness that was originally found in early "retro" ballparks is impossible to maintain: "There are nearly 20 [new ballparks] around the league, [so] their heterogeneity has come to seem altogether homogenous." Whereas "classic" ballparks like Fenway Park were given strange dimensions simply because of the limitations provided by the plots of land on which the parks were built, new stadiums do not feature such restrictions. One sportswriter said the attempt emulate the old parks in this way is "contrived."[14]

In addition, a number of commentators have criticized what they see as a tendency to cater new ballparks toward wealthier ticket buyers, such as with expanded use of luxury suites instead of cheaper, conventional seating.[14][16][17][18] Several writers have noted that upper deck seating at new ballparks may actually be farther away from the field than in the older parks, partly as a result of these new upper decks being pushed higher by rows of luxury suites.[19]

One writer in The New Yorker said it is "not quite right to credit or blame Populous" for trends in their new stadiums—as it is ultimately team owners that plan what they want in future stadiums—but they "certainly enabled" such changes.[20]


File:Populous HQ KCMO.JPG

Headquarters of Populous, in Kansas City, MO, USA.

Sports projects

Association football

  • Reebok Stadium – Bolton, England, UK – Bolton Wanderers F.C. (1997)
  • Sir Bobby Robson Stand at Portman Road – Ipswich, England, UK – Ipswich Town Football Club (2002)
  • Estádio da Luz – Lisbon, Portugal – S.L. Benfica (2003)
  • Estádio Algarve – Loulé, Portugal – S.C. Farense, Louletano D.C. (2004)
  • Emirates Stadium – London, UK – Arsenal Football Club (2006)
  • Sahlen's StadiumRochester, New YorkRochester Rhinos (2006)
  • Stadium:mk – Milton Keynes, UK – Milton Keynes Dons F.C. (2007)
  • Wembley Stadium – London, UK – England (joint project with Foster and Partners) (2007)
  • Dick's Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, CO – Colorado Rapids (2007)
  • FNB Stadium (formerly Soccer City) – Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa (2009)
  • Estadio OmnilifeZapopan, Jalisco, MexicoC.D. Guadalajara (2010)
  • Fossetts Farm StadiumSouthend, UKSouthend United (2011)
  • Sporting Park – Kansas City, KS – Sporting Kansas City (2011)
  • Arena das DunasNatal, BrazilAmérica de Natal (2013)
  • Friends Arena – Stockholm, Sweden – Sweden (2012)
  • BBVA Compass Stadium – Houston, Texas – Houston Dynamo (2012)
  • Stade des LumièresLyon, FranceOlympique Lyonnais (2013)
  • Kazan-arenaKazan, RussiaFC Rubin Kazan (2013)
  • Estadio de Fútbol MonterreyMonterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico – C.F. Monterrey (2014)
  • Stade des Lumières – Décines, France – Olympique Lyonnais (2014)
  • Orlando City StadiumOrlando, FloridaOrlando City Soccer Club (2015)[21]
  • City of Manchester Stadium expansion - Manchester, UK (2015)

Australian football

  • Docklands Stadium, Melbourne, VictoriaCarlton Blues; Essendon Bombers; North Melbourne Kangaroos; St Kilda Saints; Western Bulldogs (2000)
  • Kardinia Park, Geelong, VictoriaGeelong Cats (2010)
  • Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast, QueenslandGold Coast Suns (2011)
  • Sydney Showground Stadium, Sydney, New South WalesGreater Western Sydney Giants (2012)
  • Perth Stadium, Perth, Western AustraliaFremantle Dockers; West Coast Eagles (2018)

American football

NFL and College football

Arena Football League


Major League Baseball

Minor league baseball

  • Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium, South Bend, Indiana – A South Bend Silver Hawks (1987)
  • Metro Bank Park, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – AA Harrisburg Senators (1987)
  • Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York – AAA Buffalo Bisons (1988)
  • Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, Geneva, Illinois – A Kane County Cougars (1991)
  • Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia – AAA Norfolk Tides (1993)
  • Smith's Ballpark, Salt Lake City, Utah – AAA Salt Lake Bees (1994)
  • Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina – AAA Durham Bulls (1995)
  • Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana – AAA Indianapolis Indians (1996)
  • Clear Channel Stadium, Lancaster, California – A Lancaster JetHawks (1996)
  • Arrowhead Credit Union Park, San Bernardino, California – A Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino (1997)
  • Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, Charleston, South Carolina – A Charleston RiverDogs (1997)
  • LeLacheur Park, Lowell, Massachusetts – A Lowell Spinners (1998)
  • Chukchansi Park, Fresno, California – AAA Fresno Grizzlies (2002)
  • Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida – AA Jacksonville Suns (2003)
  • Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida – A Clearwater Threshers (2004)
  • Trustmark Park, Pearl, Mississippi – AA Mississippi Braves (2005)
  • Dow Diamond, Midland, Michigan – A Great Lakes Loons (2007)
  • Arvest Ballpark, Springdale, Arkansas – AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (2008)
  • Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania – AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs (2008)
  • Parkview Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana – A Fort Wayne TinCaps (2009)
  • ONEOK Field, Tulsa, Oklahoma – AA Tulsa Drillers (2010)
  • Alliance Bank Stadium, Syracuse, NY – AAA Syracuse Chiefs (1997)
  • Community Maritime Park, Pensacola, FL – AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos (2012)

College baseball




College Basketball

Ice hockey




  • The E CenterWest Valley City, UtahUtah Grizzlies, 2002 Winter Olympics (1997)


Rugby League

  • Suncorp StadiumBrisbane, Queensland, Australia – NRL Brisbane Broncos (2003)
  • Skilled ParkGold Coast, Queensland, Australia – NRL Gold Coast Titans (2008)



  • Tropicana FieldSt. Petersburg, Florida (joint project with Lescher & Mahoney Sports(Tampa) & Criswell, Blizzard & Blouin Architects (St. Pete) (1990)
  • Ervin J. Nutter CenterFairborn, Ohio – NCAA Wright State Raiders (1990)
  • AlamodomeSan Antonio, Texas (1993)
  • Hong Kong StadiumSo Kon Po, Hong Kong (1994)
  • Manchester VelodromeManchester, England, UK (1994)
  • University of Houston Athletics and Alumni Center – Houston, Texas (1995)
  • The O2, London, UK (Formerly the Millennium Dome)
  • ANZ Stadium – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia – 2000 Summer Olympics (1999)
  • Millennium Stadium – Cardiff, UK – Wales football team and Wales rugby union team (1999)
  • Pennsylvania State University Training Facility – University Park, Pennsylvania (1999)
  • Westpac Stadium Wellington, New Zealand (2000)
  • Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH (2001)
  • Croke ParkDublin, IrelandGaelic Athletic Association (2004)
  • Nanjing Olympic Sports CenterNanjing, China (2004)
  • Mizzou ArenaColumbia, Missouri – NCAA Missouri Tigers (2005)
  • UCF ArenaOrlando, Florida (2007)
  • Queensland Tennis CentreTennyson, Queensland, Australia (2009)
  • Aviva Stadium – Dublin, Ireland – Ireland rugby union team and Ireland football team (joint project with Scott Tallon Walker) (2010)
  • Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Multi-purpose facility (Convention space/Stadium) – Birmingham, Alabama {In design stages} (Ground-breaking held 9/21/2009)
  • Ravenscraig Regional Sports FacilityMotherwell, Scotland, UK (2010)
  • Forsyth Barr StadiumDunedin, New Zealand (2011)
  • Ford CenterEvansville, Indiana – Used for Professional Ice Hockey, College Basketball, and Music Concerts. Completed: 2011.
  • First Direct ArenaLeeds, United Kingdom – multi-purpose arena (2013)
  • Philippine ArenaBulacan, North of Metro Manila, Philippines – multi-purpose arena, plenary hall for Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) Centennial Project – a 50,000 seating capacity (proposed completion 2014; and when completed, this will be the biggest theater, dome arena and indoor stadium in the world.)
  • HARBORcenterBuffalo, New Yorkhockey-themed mixed-use development under construction (est. completion May, 2015)
  • Perth StadiumPerth, Western Australia (architectural consultants – proposed completion 2018)

Venue projects

Convention and Civic centers

Event projects


  • 1996 Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • 2000 Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 2002 Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  • 2004 Athens, Greece
  • 2006 Torino, Italy
  • 2008 Beijing, China
  • 2010 Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • 2012 London, England, UK
  • 2014 Sochi, Russia
  • 2016 Chicago, Illinois, USA (Bid; lost to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

National Football League

(selected events)

Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball All-Star Game

  • 1993 – Baltimore, Maryland
  • 1997 – Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1999 – Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2000 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2001 – Seattle, Washington
  • 2002 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 2003 – Chicago, Illinois
  • 2004 – Houston, Texas
  • 2005 – Detroit, Michigan
  • 2006 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2007 – San Francisco, California
  • 2009 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2013 – Queens, New York City, New York
  • 2014 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Football events

(Selected Events)

  • 1986 – FIFA/UNICEF World All Star Game – Los Angeles, California, USA
  • 1994 – FIFA World Cup – 9 US cities
  • 1996 – Major League Soccer Inaugural Game – San Jose, California, USA
  • 1998 – FIFA World Cup – Toulouse, France
  • 2002 – FIFA World Cup – Korea/Japan

Other events

(Selected Events)

  • 1986 – NBA All Star Game – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  • 1996 – Democratic National Convention – Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • 1998 – NCAA Basketball Women's Final Four – Kansas City, Missouri, USA
  • 1999 – Rugby World Cup – Cardiff, Wales, UK
  • 2002 – Modern Pentathlon World Championships – Stanford, California, USA
  • 2004 – The Main Street Event – Houston, Texas, USA
  • 2005 – US Women's Open Golf – Denver, Colorado, USA
  • 2005 – Daytona 500, Master Plan – Daytona, Florida, USA
  • 2007 – Breeders' Cup, Oceanport, New Jersey, USA


  1. Kevin Collison, "HOK Sport Venue now stands alone", The Kansas City Star, January 5, 2009.[dead link]
  2. Populous official website
  3. Kevin Collison, "Sports architecture firm changes name", The Kansas City Star, March 31, 2009 (access date March 31, 2009).
  4. International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.59. St. James Press, 2004
  5. HOK Sport Venue Event changes name to Populous – Kansas City Business Journal – March 31, 2009
  6. Thanks. Now Scram – The Pitch – Kansas City – February 1, 2007
  7. New Game Plan – Kansas City Business Journal –- June 20, 2003
  8. 8.0 8.1 Byrnes, Mark (March 30, 2012). "Is the Retro Ballpark Movement Officially Over?". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  9. Santelli, Robert; Santelli, Jenna (2010). The Baseball Fan's Bucket List: 162 Things You Must Do, See, Get, and Experience Before You Die. Running Press. p. 73. ISBN 9780762440313. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  10. Mock, Joe (June 18, 2013). "Indians' Progressive Field sustains splendor". USA Today. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  11. "Camden Yards History". Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  12. Ward, Geoffrey C.; Ken Burns. "Fields and Dreams". PBS. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Rosensweig, Daniel (2005). Retro Ball Parks: Instant History, Baseball, and the New American City. Univ. of Tennessee Press. ISBN 9781572333512. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Lamster, Mark (July 2009). "Play Ball". Metropolis Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  15. "About the Architect". Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  16. DeMause, Neil; Cagan, Joanna (2008). Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803228481. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  17. Lupica, Mike (May 23, 2011). "Subway Series: Only affordable aspect of Yankee Stadium experience is the 4 train fare". Daily News. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  18. deMause, Neil (April 2, 2009). "New Yankee Stadium Opens Its Vast, Expensive Gates". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  19. Levin, Josh (Oct 7–13, 2005). "Rich Fan, Poor Fan". Washington City Paper. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  20. "The End of the Retro Ballpark". Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  21. Schlueb, Mark. "Architects, Dyer and Lions to brainstorm ideas for MLS stadium design". Orlando Sentinel.,0,4518538.story. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  22. Comfort Zone – Boston Globe – November 19, 2001
  23. [1]

External links

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