The original Yankee Stadium, completed in 1923, was the home of one of the most successful teams in the history of pro sports — but by the 1970s it was showing its age.
When a new stadium was built, just across the street from the old one, the architects brought back features from the early days of the original, including hand-operated scoreboards and a copper frieze along the upper deck. But in other ways, the new stadium was quite different from the old one.
With eight levels, two of them underground, and a seating capacity of around 52,000, the new stadium features broad open spaces, concession stands that don’t block the view, and more seats below the mezzanine level, closer to the action on the field.
The new stadium was completed in 2009, at a projected cost of more than $2.3 billion. The 9/11 attacks of eight years before had underlined the need for security screening, but it was important not to detract from the experience of fans.
“Many fans already choose to stay in and watch matches on TV and the stadium owners were anxious that any delay and inconvenience caused would result in ticket sales falling,” said Dr. Norman Rhodes of Mott MacDonald.
To ensure security, minimize inconvenience to fans, plan efficient evacuations during normal or emergency circumstances, and maximize the effectiveness of advertising, Mott MacDonald turned to STEPS, a crowd simulation tool.
STEPS (Simulation of Transient Evacuations and Pedestrian Movements) populates a 3D computer model of an actual or proposed environment with virtual people, producing a realistic, easily understood simulation of crowd behavior. STEPS has been used to model crowd behavior for venues including Grand Central Terminal, New Wembley Stadium, Delhi Airport, and the Maracaibo Metro.
Mott MacDonald used architectural 2D CAD drawings to develop a 3D model of the Yankee Stadium’s structural elements, such as walls, floors, roofs, and stands then imported the 3D model into the STEPS software. Tools built into STEPS were used to create walking planes, exits, stairs, elevators, and escalators. Access to certain seating areas and concourses was restricted based on the type of ticket held by each fan.
STEPS was used to simulate various normal operations at Yankee Stadium. Evacuation modeling was conducted for several full-scale simulations, including scenarios in which major ramps or stairwells were blocked by fire. Emergency scenarios included a full stadium evacuation, particular evacuations, and access by first responders.
The use of STEPS made it possible to optimize the experience of spectators and anticipate potential problems before construction — increasing the confidence of stadium management. Our analysis helped stadium management place staff so as to reduce queuing, bottlenecks, and waiting time at kiosks, washrooms, and concession stands.
Analysis of elevator and escalator usage, crowd density, and footfalls identified the routes used most by fans. Management was then able to locate security checkpoints, anticipate crowd movements during emergencies, and train staff more effectively.
The result? Increased security, coupled with cost-effective staffing and a user-friendly experience that keeps fans coming back. The new space seemed to suit the team as well: in their first year in the new stadium, the New York Yankees won the World Series.