4 Tips to Perfect Sports Complex Procurement

Don’t Just Get What You Need

If you’re a future sports complex owner or project leader in facility development, you may soon find yourself buried in catalogs and marketing emails for everything from turf to catering platters, LED lighting, and wall padding. How do you know what provides the most value or which is truly the best product? Do you know where to spend and where to save?

1. Understand the process

The procurement process is often handled by your general contractor (GC). After designing every perfect inch of your beautiful multi-million-dollar building, your architect will assemble some specifications for the furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) or operating system equipment (OSE) based on their general knowledge. The general contractor then takes out these specifications to bid in the general market place and often awards the lowest bidder that meets specification. This saves him time and money (increased margins & mark-up). You as the owner are stuck with whatever is chosen.

2. Collaborate with your architect

If you already know what kind/brand of equipment you’d like, approach your architect early in the design process to ensure that the space, design, and code requirements can be met in your building. Ask your preferred manufacturer for specification documents and supply those to the architect. With that detail in hand, the architect can then easily write the specification into your building and ensure that all future bidders must beat or exceed what you’ve chosen.

3. Find an expert

If you don’t already know what you need – where do you start? If wading through websites and crawling through catalog clutter isn’t your idea of time well spent, it may be time to find an expert. Two common ways to find an expert are to find an FF&E/OSE service provider or resource a local multi-product line dealer.


For turn-key purchasing power, you will select an FF&E/OSE service provider. With the type of service, an experienced individual becomes integrated into your project, offering advice in everything from sports and recreation facility design to backboard padding, and they make on-site visits and inspections. In addition to the concierge-like service, these providers are often able to offer significant cost savings because they are able to purchase for multiple projects per year. FF&E/OSE service providers may purchase direct from manufacturer, work with a local dealership, or manage an RFP process on your behalf.

4. See the products in action

Online reviews for overhead suspended volleyball systems or testimonials on fire-rated wall-pads may be scarce, but facilities with this equipment are not. Find a gym/field at a comparable sports tourism destination, university, community recreation center, or school and plan your visit. Most facility operators are happy to share their experience, give a product review, facility tour, or equipment demonstration. If the schedule allows, it’s also a great way to observe a large tournament, special event, or everyday practice sport turn-over to see how things transition.


The equipment chosen during the development process will be a part of the facility for decades to come, enhance (or detract) from the guest experience, and create operational efficiency (or inefficiency). With these 4 tips, this time-consuming and often complicated process can make simpler and more efficient – so you can get what you need, and what you want.