American Society of Civil Engineers

Retractable Stadium Roofs and Flooring

by Barton L. Riberich, (President, Uni-Systems, LLC, 4600 Lake Road, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55422 E-mail:
Section: Large Structures, pp. 1-10, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Structures Congress 2008: Crossing Borders
Abstract: A recent proposal in Asia called for a ballpark roof that opens like flower pedals with mechanized roof elements having cantilevered spans of two to three hundred feet. The Devil Rays have recently unveiled plans for a new MLB ballpark in St. Petersburg, Florida. This design calls for several acres of fabric to be deployed and tensioned over a cable net structure in the event of rain. When not in use, this fabric roof is collapsed and stored under the inboard edge of the sunscreen structure that covers the seating area. These design challenges call for a variety of new and innovative materials, structural systems, and mechanization methodologies. The keys to the success of integrating large mechanized components into these future stadiums will be much like those of the past. Proven methodologies and technologies should be used when possible. When the design calls for something new and innovative; ample computer modelling/analysis, reduced scale modeling, and full scale prototype testing is imperative in order to validate design concepts and theories as they develop. The limits of this kinetic architecture revolution are bounded only by the vision of the owners, the creativity of their architects, and technical innovativeness of the engineers and constructors that bring these archictectural icons to life.

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