Populous designs Palm Springs’s new world-class arena

Populous designs Palm Springs’s new world-class arena

Populous and Oak View Group celebrated the opening of Acrisure Arena on December 14 in Greater Palm Springs. The new performance and sports complex will provide a state-of-the-art music arena to a major music city.

Oak View Group (OVG), a global venue development, advisory, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industry, hired Populous as the architect of record to create an indoor music venue for Greater Palm Springs and Coachella Valley. Populous provided architectural, interior, branding, and wayfinding design. The facility also hosts the AHL’s Seattle Kraken-affiliated Coachella Valley Firebirds. Populous finished Climate Pledge Arena last year.

Populous LDLC Arena Aerial

“We approached the design of Acrisure Arena by first immersing ourselves in the local history, landscape, and culture of Palm Springs, one of the nation’s iconic music destinations,” stated Populous founder and main architect Robert Norvell. “The result is a venue that changes the performance and hockey landscape of the West Coast, simultaneously authentic to its site and leading the industry into the future of entertainment experience.”

Acrisure Arena, with a concert capacity of 11,000, combines an intimate and customized facility with the infrastructure and technology to launch West Coast tours. Unique premium facilities exploit the warm, year-round desert environment, offering visitors access to outdoor concessions and club balconies with a spectacular selection of vistas. The arena’s sustainable design works with the terrain and arid environment.

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Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO of Oak View Group, said “Populous is one of the best in the business and that’s why we’ve partnered with them on a number of our other buildings such as UBS Arena and Climate Pledge Arena.” Palm Springs is recognized for its trademark architecture and gorgeous mountains, so constructing Acrisure Arena to complement the scenery was vital. Acrisure Arena will include unobstructed views, luxury cafes, sophisticated artist dressing rooms, and sports amenities.

Populous audited Palm Desert’s architecture, colors, materials, language, and design for Acrisure Arena’s façade and inside. The team wants this place to be a top sports and entertainment center while blending into its neighborhood. The exterior’s windswept shapes mimic the desert surroundings, with palm tree islands providing an oasis and refuge from the sun.

The arena’s seating bowl is submerged, reducing its height and permitting at-grade accessibility to the main concourse. The arena site includes the open-to-the-public Berger Foundation Iceplex, the Firebirds’ training facility. The Iceplex has a 5,000-square-foot training facility and a 1,500-square-foot players’ lounge.

Made for Music

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Acrisure Arena will welcome world-famous acts, suited for an area with a strong musical tradition. The arena’s infrastructure and artist facilities match those of bigger venues to attract west-coast tours. Acrisure Arena’s rigging system has the same capabilities as big performance venues, enabling artists to test their traveling setup and entertainment assets in their first event. Also, in a hockey arena, the lack of a center-hung scoreboard gives musicians easy access to various catwalks, making it perfect for tour rehearsals.

The venue’s size and acoustics are ideal. The rigging grid is 60 feet high, compared to 120 feet in bigger arenas. This, along with sound paneling and the two-level bowl, offers outstanding acoustics and a boisterous hockey environment.


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Populous designed Acrisure Arena to house two ice sheets in a desert setting while minimizing the environmental effect of a chilly facility in a warm climate.

The arena’s construction determines its sustainability. Both ice sheets are covered to use the colder earth, restrict sun exposure, and maximize energy efficiency. The arena’s reflective roof decreases heat gain, while the landscaping incorporates native and regionally adapted plants to reduce upkeep, irrigation, and stormwater runoff, which may help local animals. Trenches absorb stormwater runoff and recharge groundwater with recycled water. The remainder of the property has vegetated swales.

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