California arena draw from desert aesthetics


US Coachella Valley sports and entertainment arena Image: Populous & OAK View Group

Eminent Populous architect Robert Norvell and his first rate team of architects and designers recently unveiled a unique design for the around 10,000-capacity Coachella Valley sports and entertainment indoor arena in the US State of California providing a glimpse of what the desert-themed wonder will look like on completion in the last quarter of 2022.

The groundbreaking of this multipurpose arena is scheduled in May 2021.

Located 14 kms away from desert resort Palm Springs, the arena will come up on 43.35 acres of unincorporated land near the City of Palm Desert (California), between Interstate 10 and Classic Club golf course. sources reported that Tim Leiweke, the head honcho of Los Angeles (US)-based Oak View Group (OVG), an entertainment advisory, development and investment firm that is constructing the arena, wants the project finished by October 2022 to allow the valley’s new minor league ice hockey team, tentatively named Firebirds, affiliated with major league National Hockey League (NHL) team Seattle Kraken to start the 2022-23 seasons.

The Seattle Kraken is a professional ice hockey expansion team based in Seattle, US. The Kraken will compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, beginning with the league’s 2021-22 seasons.

“We’re committed to playing hockey next year,” said Leiweke, who’s OVG has partnered with Live Nation Entertainment and the H.N. & Frances C. Berger Foundation, a local nonprofit company that owns the land. sources added that the arena, named Coachella Valley Arena for the present, will seat 9,918 spectators for hockey, 10,815 for basketball and other sporting events, and will have a capacity of 11,679 for concerts. The lower bowl of the venue will accommodate around 8,000. What the designers wish to achieve is an arena that would host fairly large sporting events and concerts, while maintaining a cozy intimate atmosphere.

“There won’t be a bad seat in the house,” asserted Norvell.

Leiweke believes that the American Hockey League team – Palm Springs AHL team – that will call the arena home could play in front of as many as 5,000 season ticket holders. He is also confident that the arena will be large enough to bring in big-ticket musical acts that are in town between Coachella or Stagecoach weekends or on their way from Los Angeles to Phoenix, or vice versa.

The Palm Springs AHL team is a professional ice hockey expansion team based in Palm Springs, California, that plans to begin play in the 2022-23 American Hockey League (AHL) season.

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

The American Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League (NHL). Since the 2010-11 seasons, every team in the league has an affiliation agreement with one NHL team.

Added Leiweke, “There’s a huge opportunity there and I think we have probably the smartest and most influential person in the music business with Irving Azoff, my partner. All of us are thinking through how we ultimately put the Coachella Valley further on the map as to artistes wanting to come down there to create music.”

Norvell, the Principal Architect on the forthcoming $250 million project, and his team at Populous, the top-notch architecture firm made responsible for the design, believe they have achieved a feat which allows modernism to blend seamlessly with the desert surroundings.

The design plans and 25 renderings of the facility revealed months ahead of construction combine desert aesthetics with modernism and incorporates inspiration from several prominent estates in the valley, including American singer Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms, the last boasts of historical significance dating to mid 20th century luxury and modern amenities.

The team wanted a finished product that was beyond the ordinary, a class apart.

“This is a unique project,” said Norvell, whose team is based in Kansas City.

“It’s a really interesting area. The Coachella Valley is known throughout the world for the music festivals and the music scene, so we took a lot of inspiration from the local aspects of the culture that is Palm Springs. You’ve got Coachella Valley, you’ve got Palm Springs, you’ve got the influence of the Agua Caliente tribe, so you’ve got a lot to draw from,” he elaborated.

The amenities

  • The building will feature 20 suites that can seat 20 people in each;
  • A private club that can hold 145;
  • Two VIP clubs that can accommodate 80 in each, and a premium concourse club that can seat 590;
  • Two bars will flank the stage during live entertainment events and provide an appealing vantage point during sporting events;
  • Three thousand parking spaces;
  • Shade structures and club balconies that oversee the panoramic desert vistas;
  • There are future plans for facilities inside the arena that would allow for entertainers to take up residency, who could have several shows throughout the year;


A peek into the interior

The layout proposes that spectators enter the building on the main concourse, with the lower bowl sunk into the ground. This will allow those who enter to have a view across the concourse and into the action in the lower bowl.

“Really, upon entry, you’re already feeling that you are a part of the game or the concert or whatever event is taking place,” Interior Designer Whitney Williams said.

The interior space will be bright, with murals of mountains, palm trees and swimming pools creating an environment of the outdoors, the inspiration drawn from older mid-century Palm Springs.

Williams said that the aim was to make the space feel like those inside the concourse were visiting one of those luxurious properties and hanging out for the evening.

Clubs and lounge areas will offer a contemporary, desert-themed design that also will feature framed photos of the area. Bars and concession areas will be located on the main concourse, with giant windows showcasing the mountain views.

The exterior

Palm trees will surround the arena building that will add a natural desert feel to the space and blend with the rest of the Coachella Valley.

The theme extends to the landscaping with lush desert vegetation to create shade and give the outdoor space some character.

Architectural designer Scott McCracken, who had a say on all design aspects and took the lead on the exterior design, said that the design team aimed to pay homage to the mid-century elements that identify with Palm Springs – “You’ll see a lot of that on our interior story.”

“But, the exterior of the building is all about desert architecture, so you’ll see all these really cool forms, the windswept forms, that time has really shaped the building,” McCracken added.

Stated McCracken, “They’ll have options inside. But, we really wanted to take advantage of the climate here and do something that is totally, totally different than what you see at any other arena.”

An attached practice ice rink has been included in the design for the hockey team to practice.

Leiweke said that he hopes to host a number of events in the arena, from family skating nights to figure skating events to NHL or NBA preseason training camps.

The design team envisions the building hosting all sorts of activities from live music, concerts and other sports apart from ice hockey matches and has planned to accommodate just about anything.

“We think it will be an amazing venue,” concluded Williams.

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