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Game On: The Sports Capital of Texas Pre-eminent sportsplex in Round Rock a draw for professional teams

Sports tourism is an important economic driver for the City of Round Rock. The city adopted the slogan “The Sports Capital of Texas” and their catch phrase “Game On” in 2004 as part of a promotional campaign to attract youth, recreational and amateur sports to the City. In 2019 the campaign slogan was updated to “Go Round Rock!” The goal of the campaign is to generate revenue from the lodging, dining, shopping, and entertainment dollars spent by those visiting the city for sporting events.

Round Rock continues to invest in the campaign by developing numerous tournament-oriented venues across the city such as the renovation of four baseball complexes (20 fields) and a six-field Girls’ Softball Complex in 2007. Additionally, in 2012 the city completed their 80,000-square-foot sports center dedicated to indoor sport tournaments. The city’s latest addition to their arsenal of world-class sports venues is the Multipurpose Complex at Old Settlers Park at Palm Valley. This venue will provide the city the ability to host large field-sport tournaments, such as soccer and lacrosse, and further strengthen their claim as “The Sports Capital of Texas.”

Schrickel Rollins/PSC was selected by the City of Round Rock as the prime consultant for the development of the multipurpose athletic complex. The vision for the multipurpose complex was that of a world-class tournament facility that would draw tournaments from across the region. To support the demands of a large tournament facility, the complex would need high-quality playing fields, large parking areas, a strong visual identity, clear pedestrian and vehicular circulation, and ample spectator amenities such as shaded seating areas, convenient restroom locations, multiple dining options, playgrounds, etc. SRA/PSC’s services ranged from schematic design and master planning through construction documents and contract administration. Professional services provided by SRA/PSC included landscape architecture, architecture, and civil engineering.

The 80-acre complex is the second project that SRA/PSC completed for Round Rock in Old Settlers Park. SRA/PSC completed the renovation of four existing baseball complexes and designed the girls’ softball complex in 2007, according to Henry Parker, landscape architect with SRA/PSC.

The equivalent of 10 full-size soccer fields are provided. Eight of the fields are intended for game use while the remaining two are set aside as championship fields. The championship fields are each sized for a single full-size soccer field.

The game fields are arranged in large 420' x 600' “pods.” The pods, sized to hold two full-size soccer fields, have no interior obstructions such as light poles or concrete paving to allow for the unlimited number of field sizes and arrangements within each pod.

All 10 of the fields are lighted. The lighting on the game fields was unique given the size of the pods. Taller light poles and more fixtures were required to light the 420' x 600' areas to 30 fc without creating glare that could interfere with the players’ vision. Additionally, special care was taken to ensure that the light did not spill onto adjacent properties.

Five fields, two pods and one championship field were constructed with natural grass and the other five fields were constructed with artificial turf. The artificial turf allows for the fields to be used in inclement weather when the natural grass fields would typically be closed. The ability to use the fields in adverse weather conditions ensures that games and thus tournaments can be completed. This is an attractive feature for potential tournament organizers looking for a venue.

In addition to being used during inclement weather, the artificial turf fields can be used more hours per week than natural grass fields. Natural grass fields have a maximum number of hours they can be used per week (approximately 24), after which the fields must be allowed to recover. If the fields are not allowed to rest, the quality of the fields will diminish. Artificial turf fields, however, can be used an unlimited number of hours per week.

The size and shape of the pods and the use of both natural and artificial turf allows the space to be used for soccer, lacrosse, rugby, football, ultimate frisbee, quidditch, field hockey and more in almost any weather condition.

The two-story clubhouse building is located near the north park entrance and sits between the two championship fields.

The building includes restrooms, concessions, referee rooms and storage on the first floor and restrooms, offices, and meeting rooms on the second floor. The offices house the facility manager and staff. The meeting rooms are rentable spaces for activities ranging from corporate events to birthday parties.

You can view both championship fields from inside the meeting rooms and the balconies.

The championship fields are each sized for a single full-size soccer field.

The large scale of the project requires visitors to walk long distances. These long walks can be complicated by the large crowds. Therefore, it was important to ensure the pedestrian circulation was clear and efficient. The north and south ends of the facility are linked by a 20-foot-wide sidewalk allowing large numbers of users to simultaneously move in opposite directions. Wayfinding signage directs users to satellite restrooms and other features throughout the 80-acre complex.

The spectator's experience is as important as the player’s experience, so ample amenities were provided throughout the complex. The central plaza (top) features radial paving patterns, raised planters and ample seating for the large groups of people who typically gather here in between games. Playgrounds geared to children of all ages are located to the right and left of the plaza (bottom left).

Significant planning went into the design of the concrete terraced bleachers at the championship fields to ensure spectators have the best view and the most leg room possible.

A concrete pad adjacent to the terraced bleachers provides the ability to bring additional portable grandstands and can also be used by vendors selling food, sports drinks, souvenirs, etc.

Large plazas with lots of shade and seating were provided for gathering and mingling.

Native limestone was used throughout the complex on walls, buildings, signage and planters to visually connect this facility to the existing park elements.

Satellite public restrooms are located at the north and south ends of the game fields. Public restrooms are also on the clubhouse’s first floor.

Due to the large scale of the facility and the large crowds expected, it was critical to provide restroom facilities at several convenient locations.

Food truck parking was placed throughout the complex to provide the users a greater variety of dining options beyond the typical concession-stand fare. Power connections are provided at the food truck parking areas by means of a lockable power pedestal.

Pedestrian scale light poles are provided throughout the complex, ensuring a comfortable and safe experience. Low cut-off light fixtures prevent light from spilling onto neighborhood properties.

Vehicle access is provided from Old Settlers Boulevard to the north and from the interior park road Aten Loop from the southeast. Parking lots are provided at the north and south ends of the complex. The south and north parking lots are connected via a park road along the west boundary of the complex. Emergency and service vehicle access is provided throughout the complex.

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The design theme within the Multipurpose Fields Complex at Old Settlers Park is a combination of the Texas Hill Country design vernacular with a touch of contemporary styling. It was important that the complex blend with the existing architecture within the park, which is Texas Hill Country, but the owner also wanted the architecture to reflect the modern feel experienced in some of the European and Latin American soccer stadiums. To accomplish this, the typical Texas Hill Country materials pallet was tweaked. The native limestone was still used on the buildings and throughout the site; however, other materials were changed. In place of the standard galvalume roofing seen throughout Central Texas, blue and silver metals were used. Additionally, the guardrails, light fixtures and other site elements were changed from the typical black or bronze to a stainless-steel look.

Native and adaptive plants complement the radial paving patterns and soften the edges in the complex. Wayfinding signage directs users throughout the facility.

The entire landscape, including the sports fields, is irrigated with reused water, to lessen the city’s water demand.

An overview of the entire site
“The success of this project is a direct result of the coordination and attention to detail by the design team to ensure the various components function as one across such a large site.” – Henry Parker, RLA, project manager
“The team at SRA listened to the needs of the city and our citizens, which resulted in a design that was truly tailored to Round Rock. The construction documents were thorough and well-thought-out, and if any issues did arise, Henry Parker was quick to meet on-site and resolve the issue. This hands-on approach was extremely valuable on such a complex project.” – Rick Atkins, director of Round Rock’s Parks and Recreation Department, concerning the Multipurpose Fields Complex at Old Settlers Park