There comes a time when you are walking through your athletic facilities that you look around and decide its time for an upgrade. Perhaps you’re dealing with faded and deteriorating graphics, outdated logos, conflicting design styles, mismatched colors, or any number of other things that break down the cohesiveness and overall look of your facilities. For most schools, building a new gym, weight room, field house, or stadium is probably not an option. The next best option is to refresh the appearance of your existing facilities.
The good news is there are a variety of graphics options that are both cost-effective and will bring new life and excitement to a school. Check out our suggestions below on where to start.
DO A WALKTHROUGH
Grab a clipboard, start in the parking lot, and take a walk through your facilities. Pretend you are a visitor for the first time and take note of what you notice. If you didn’t know where you were going, would you know where to enter? Do you want fans and visitors to use a specific entrance? Graphics pointing people in the right direction are some of the most overlooked tools when it comes to campus signage. Take notes on the approximate viewing distance you would want visitors to see the sign from. This helps the sign designers to set the font sizes appropriately to be seen from a distance.
If you have existing directional signage take a critical look at it and see if the sign positively reflects your program. Chances are the signs were installed when the school was built. Letters might be missing, rusting or fading might be an issue, or perhaps it’s been damaged at some point. These are all common problems we see when we visit sites. Keep in mind that signage is usually the first interaction a visitor has with a facility, so make sure those signs represent the same values you carry inside the school!
Once inside the facility take a look and determine if a first-time visitor would know where to go. The most common questions that employees get when visitors enter the building are “Where is the office?”, “Where are the restrooms?,” “Where is the gym?,” and “How do I get out of here?.” Once again, simple directional signage can get traffic moving in the right direction and relieve you of answering the same questions over and over again.
Also, once inside the main entrance take notes on what a visitor would see first. Are there old logos, dusty trophy cases, and mismatched plaques? Perhaps there is an opportunity to update the sightlines at the entrance with a Hall of Fame Display or some Wall Graphics. Over the years, non-matching plaques, posters, and signs get haphazardly hung, but they never get updated. Look around and see if the first impression you see is the one you want to make on others.
Continue your walk through the hallways and walkways. Look up, down, and all around to see if there are any simple fixes you can make. Perhaps there are ceiling tiles with water damage, old flyers taped to the walls, outdated sponsor recognition, unmaintained awards, outdated pictures or images, ugly wall murals, or unattractive blank walls. Updating these spaces with some consistent and simple looking signage immediately cleans up the space and draws your eye to what looks nice.
Write down everything you can see and experience during your walk through. Some of the items are quick fixes such as replacing ceiling tiles, removing old posters, and installing directional signs. Fixing a leaking roof, repainting a wall, or removing old trophy cases might be more effort, but at least you have a list of things to start working from.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TO-DO LIST
Take a week and check off as many small updates and fixes as you can. Some changes might be as easy as replacing an unsightly trash can, cleaning junk off a wall, or sweeping out the area. Chances are there are several small tasks that have not been done for years, but they can be completed pretty easily. Doing the small things often makes a big difference.
The second group of tasks to be separated out will be the ones where additional resources, such as a team of volunteers, might be needed. Use your teams, coaches, and parents to get the job done! Plan some time to tackle projects such as cleaning out the equipment shed, clearing the leaves out of the corners of the tennis court, and emptying out the locker rooms. Refer to your walk-through list and decide which tasks will have the biggest impact.
Many of the biggest upgrades you can make to existing facilities will be cleaning up, repainting, and adding consistent signs and graphics. Find groups of volunteers to pitch in for a day. Come up with a plan to create an awesome entrance. Perhaps you have a relationship with a local nursery and along with one of your teams you can put in some new landscaping beds. Move from the entrance to the walkways and hallways and come up with a plan for a fresh look. Pull in some parents to take down old signs and bulletin boards. Have another group following behind them to fill holes and get some fresh paint on the walls. Reach out to a sign company like Team Fitz Graphics to develop some great looking signage and wall graphics to fill sightlines and liven up the space. Finish your trip from the hallways into the gym, theatre, or stadium. Ask maintenance to replace the American flag, take down old banners, remove other school logos, and replace damaged signage. Take the time to think about student seating, home fan seating, and visitor seating. Perhaps changing the sections will help create a new experience.
PLAN FOR THE BIG STUFF
Finally, create a wish list of the big stuff that you would love to do, but know cannot be done in the short term. Share these ideas with the other decision makers and see if any catch interest. Perhaps some grounds improvements could fall under the capital improvements budget. Maybe the entrances and hallways could fall under the administration budget. Think through creative ways you can prioritize your goals and align them with others.
Most of the big projects are assumed to be cost prohibitive. Luckily, many companies such as Team Fitz, offer free design proofs and price quotes. Take advantage of those offers and get different elements designed and priced out. With a variety of design and pricing options, you can take those proposals and show them to other decision makers or possible donors. Having great looking design concepts to show others strengthens the pitch and helps others share the same vision that you have.
Updating school and athletic facilities is a never-ending process, but one worthy of periodic attention. Take the time to step back and walk through your facilities while pretending to be a first-time visitor. Because each of us spends so much time where we work you can become blind to what our facilities really look like. For a little guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Team Fitz Graphics representative to get a fresh perspective on how to make your facilities POP!