Defining the stadium seating: Mauricio Olarte


Series Seating editorial - May 2020 Image: Series Seating

Seating remains the most important component of a venue – whether it is a massive stadium that can hold up to 80,000 spectators or a 1,200-seat college arena. The impact of premium seating, the science of seating and how seating is configured have evolved significantly over the past 50 years. Comfortable seats in a venue help enhance the fan experience. This is where Miami (US)-headquartered SERIES Seating excels – they know the science of seating.

Over the years, SERIES Seating has made inroads into performing arts center, auditoriums, arenas, educational classrooms, cinemas and theaters. The 38-year-old company which was founded in 1982 has raised the bar in public seating by offering state-of-the-art products with futuristic technology at competitive prices and their forte is ergonomic furniture of superior quality.

The organization which has additional corporate offices in Australia and Colombia, also has manufacturing plants in North Carolina and Colombia. They have set up seating in over 40 countries on five continents, and are committed to provide excellent services to customers by making available the best products in the market. The sustainability factor weighs high in the company’s modus operandi and all SERIES seats incorporate dynamic ergonomic designs to facilitate “active sitting” which reduces back strain, joint stiffness, and muscle strains – even when sitting for hours together.

Alvaro Mauricio Olarte, CEO of the company, is the driving force behind SERIES Seating and the company has reached an exalted position today by dint of his hard work. Mauricio has carved a niche for himself and what sets SERIES Seating apart is – Mauricio is not only the CEO of the company but also the product designer.

Mauricio graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, with a degree in Industrial Design. He has lent his design style to all the signature products of the company, and he also understands how these products need to be manufactured. Quite a combination most people do not possess. Because Mauricio designs the products, it helps the company to do a lot of custom designed products addressing customer’s very specific needs.

In an exclusive conversation with ‘Coliseum’, Steve Burgess, Vice-President of Sales for Focused Markets, SERIES Seating,talks about the various company products and what are the company’s plans to make venues safer in a COVID-19 world.

Steve Burgess was brought on board three years back. With over 30 years’ experience in the contract furniture industry, Steve became Vice-President of Sales for SERIES Seating in 2017, and has the role of educating the sporting world of what SERIES Seating truly is. He has played a pivotal role in positioning the SERIES Seating brand as the most complete seating product line available for design, quality, innovation and value!

Steve Burgess, Vice-President of Sales, SERIES Seating, US, is a member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

Talking about their new product SERIES® Arrow Edge, Steve reveals that Mauricio is the brain behind it and defines it as the “best designed and most comfortable plastic seating product available today”. Further explaining the ‘comfort quotient’ of the product, he says that the double-wall, blow-molded construction of Arrow Edge allows guests to relax comfortably in its ergonomically designed seat with lumbar support back.

He explains that ergonomics in seating and furniture is how the product interacts with a person’s body to support them in the best way possible. This could be a lumbar support for one’s lower back or a waterfall edge on a seat thus taking pressure off the back of the legs and thus allowing enhanced blood circulation and also helps reduce fatigue.

The top official further explained that the cleaning part becomes a much easier task with Arrow Edge as it has been so designed and engineered that it strikes a balance between form and function. The blow-molded seats’ structural design is such that it has no ridges or crevasses which allow food, dirt, and bacteria to get trapped. Hence, cleaning becomes extremely easy with this smooth surface design. “Steel supports, steel armrests, and steel cupholders exceed the most demanding requirements of sports venue operators,” he says.

When it comes to the safe standing section in the stadia, SERIES® Arrow Edge truly have an edge. Ecstatic fans are a common sight in stadiums. SERIES® Arrow Edge Safe Standing Zone allows fans to stand and enjoy the game safely. As Steve shares that the high-quality Arrow Edge product allows the seat to be locked in the closed position when fans don’t need to sit and keeps them safe and secure.

The product has twin advantage – apart from keeping fans safe in the standing zone, broken plastic cup holders or armrests do not have to be replaced after every game in a venue as it is made with the highest-grade quality materials.

SERIES Seating also enjoys the patented extruded aluminum Track Mounting System which allows the track to be mounted directly to the riser face virtually eliminating vibration. The track’s structural durability can handle well over 950 lb., per seat, without any deflection at all.

Steve informed that the patented Track Mounting System eliminates vibrations, which is inherent with beam mounting systems. It also increases venue seating capacity allowing uniform spacing reconfiguration along each row for fast installation time. The Track Mounting System leaves room for mounting of even the largest seats along with tables and other accessories guests may need in a venue.

Maintaining the seats is a smooth affair as the components can be changed easily and quickly with the help of the patented drop-in seat and back assembly system. Steve maintained that replacing the seat cover is an easy task as one just needs to remove the seat with the quick release mechanism and unzip the seat cover.

The closed-cell cold-molded foam prevents water from penetrating the foam due to which “our product can withstand the weather elements”, remarked Steve.

With the coronavirus crisis deepening the world over, SERIES Seating plans to assemble seats in such a manner so that the distance between seats in venues can be maintained. He shared that the company’s new product Arrow Edge and the new track mounting system will allow venue operators to expand or contract the distance between seats with ease. Privacy screens have also been developed, which can be mounted to the same track, providing additional protection for the guests at venues around the world.

The company plans to implement additional hygiene features in their products to make fans feel safe and secure while entering a venue in a COVID-19 world. They are already incorporating an anti-microbial additive “in our entire seats and back foam in order to kill bacteria, viruses and other microbes”.

They are able to do so because SERIES Seating is the only seating company who actually molds their own foam. The company is also in talks with some high quality manufacturers of anti-microbial hospital grade disinfectants to include in other parts of the product too as “it is our desire to help people feel more comfortable about going out again and being around other people in safer and healthier environments”.

Steve also informed that presently the company is spacing seats at University of Oregon (US).The University of Oregon is renovating their historic Track and Field venue – Hayward Field. There are a little over 12,000 seats in this completely outdoor venue. SERIES Seating was selected to provide all of the seats which are fully upholstered. All the seats were custom designed by head honcho Mauricio Olarte.

There are four different styles of seating in the venue. The majority of the seats will be for the general admission areas. There are four VIP suites and a 100-seat auditorium. The last area is being used for media and will be mounted using the new track mounting system. “These 500 seats were designed to be removed easily during high profile track and field events such as Olympic qualifying meets or US National meet,” stated Steve.

SERIES Seating has come a long way and the company’s sales, design, and engineering team provides options to solve specific challenges at any venue and ensures their seats can keep the luxury quotient high for fans.

As Steve sums up by saying,“When it comes to stadiums, we are still considered a new kid on the block but what sets us apart is a bit of a better style than our competitors in the market.” After all, seating is their game.

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