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Quinton van Tonder discusses

The SPS Stadia + Arenas System Stadia Decking Explained


Our stadia decking solution is a pre-fabricated terrace system. Highly customizable, it can help save existing arenas from demolition. We explain how here…
Tynecastle Park - SPS Bleacher construction at high level

Old or New : a modern spectator experience in your venue is possible

When debating renovation or rebuilding, improving ageing stadium seating stands or venues to modern standards doesn’t need to involve substantial demolition or complete removal of the existing built structure.

SPS Technology offers a unique, proven stadia decking solution – The SPS Stadia+Arenas System – that can save substantial time and money by reusing large portions of a venue’s superstructure.  In addition to high-capacity stadium stands, we also have safe-standing, rail and barrier seat solutions as well as ADA and media platforms that can help with your stadium and arena construction. And all of them are better for the environment, being both sustainable and helping to reduce waste. We’ll be discussing everything over the course of our blog here.

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SPS Stadia Decking for Modern Sight Lines


How to Re-profile with SPS


What else do you offer?


Get that Team Spirit!


Exceptionally Quick Build Times


Safety is as important as Sight Lines


SPS Stadium Seating for Modern Sightlines

SPS is strong enough to function as a stand-alone ‘re-profiling’ stadia product, and thin enough to function as an ‘overdeck’ where existing concrete seating isn’t being removed from the venue.

SPST Stadiums+Arenas sightlines diagram

Arenas quite often have sightlines that diminish the spectator experience because of inadequate views and the space to move is limited. Spectators jump out to see exciting play, which can lead to frustration and accidents.  In order to qualify to hold premiere sporting events, venues must update to present-day standards.  Modern stadium decking and terraces provide an uninterrupted view to the field and more space allocated to each fan.

Sandwich Plate System can help achieve a modern spectator experience more sustainably without tearing down a historic structure – allowing the stadium to be relevant for decades to come

SPS is a lightweight structural composite engineered for each individual project. All installations receive a customized solution using a standard conventional product. While SPS is available for all manner of applications in new-build stadia, it arguably finds its most unique use when revitalizing an existing arena.

SPS Technology engineers have many years of extensive experience accurately modelling complicated venues using our up-to-date techniques that combine videography and three-dimensional computer technologies.  By creating an accurate 3D computer model of a venue, we can then apply current guidance from sports’ governing bodies to visually propose a new slope of seats where spectators have a clear, unbroken view to the field of play and, in most cases, provide better seating space in the process.

Specifying SPS for your stadium or arena will give you the solid feel of concrete without the need for huge foundations and supporting structure.  SPS reduces the number of trades on site and eliminates wet work, significantly speeding installation and fit-out. All of which reduce overall program time and budget.


Re-profiling with ‘Overdecking’

SPS is 80% lighter than concrete and offers significant weight savings over traditional concrete solutions,

with considerably faster build times. 

Underside of Delaware Stadium bleachers re-profiled with SPS

SPS can be used to reprofile existing venues and bring them in line with modern day spectator expectations, such as uninterrupted sight lines and a bit more space for each fan. The existing built structure is what largely determines what type of ‘overdecking’ solution SPS Technology can propose.

In some existing venues, such as the University of Delaware’s Delaware Stadium , the best solution was to entirely remove the outdated concrete bleachers from the concrete superstructure of the stands.  With the concrete rakers in place, the SPS stadia terrace decking was lifted into position onto new, fabricated stools that were bolted onto the rakers, all without the need for additional concrete and involving only minor modifications to the existing pre-cast concrete. Reprofiling of this type takes advantage of the strength of the SPS structural composite. SPS is structurally sound and is designed to support the weight of the spectators (and their jumping excitement on a home goal!) without the need for additional steel reinforcement. In addition, SPS is sound deadening and feels solid underfoot, giving spectators an added feeling of security.

Another Type of Overdecking Project

In other venues, removing the existing concrete stands is not necessary.  In these situations, SPS can be used as an overdecking directly on top of the stands, using small ‘support stools’ to carry the SPS over the existing terrace configuration to create better sightlines to the arena, as SPS Technology delivered at Ascot Racecourse, UK and Abilene Christian University, Texas.  The SPS Stadia+ Arenas System solution is lightweight and thin: additional structural reinforcement is not usually required, and being only about an inch thick, it doesn’t lose as much sectional height as more traditional concrete alternatives.

New Build Stadium Seating

Even in situations where the venue is new, SPS is easily combined with structural steel rakers and the combination of the two can solve many types of stadium decking design difficulties.

Where the site conditions of a new build stadium cannot support a heavy concrete stadium – or if it’s being built in an earthquake zone – the strength and weight savings of SPS can prove the deciding factor in the design solution.  SPS was successfully used at San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium in exactly these conditions.


Our decking system offers more.

SPS Technology Stadia + Arenas doesn’t just make stadia decking. We also manufacture:


  • Platforms

  • Vomitory & Parapet Walls

  • Speed Stairs

  • Cantilevered Fascias

Computer model of SPS platforms & vomitory walls

Lightweight SPS can help to solve design challenges in any structure. The requirement to upgrade facilities with the addition of platforms, ADA platforms, standing bar areas, mezzanines for VIP and press boxes will certainly increase a project’s complexity.  All SPS projects are 3D modelled and no matter the size, shape or construction material of the existing structure, areas can be levelled using custom SPS panels to generate new usable spaces. Previously under-utilized areas can now be placed into revenue generating service. For those using wheelchairs, fully-featured ADA compliant facilities can now be reached from the concourse.

SPS platforms come factory finished, painted with non-slip coatings already applied. Pre-drilling of all fitting and fixing holes means that individual and rail-mounted seats, handrails or balustrades and specialised attachments are quickly bolted into place.

Vomitory & Parapet Walls

When fabricated using thin, lightweight SPS, vomitory and parapet walls can support e-board or advertisements or team art rather than remaining as blocks of grey concrete that is often painted afterwards. Team personalization and colors can be more easily achieved with factory-applied branding.

SPS walls can be part of a new build or as part of the rejuvenation of an existing arena or stadium. SPS walls come in RAL 7038 as standard, but any RAL colour can be specified.

Speed Stairs

Manufactured offsite, these lightweight – but sound-deadened – steel stairs are custom-fabricated accurately to project specification. They arrive onsite finished: painted in any RAL colour, with non-slip coatings and nosings applied.  They can be installed in a fraction of the time compared to concrete stairs.

A long-life product, SPS Speed Stairs are easy to keep clean and if damage does occur the speed stairs can be repaired and re-coated in short order.

Cantilevered Fascias

SPS stadium surround panels are available as a bolt-on cantilevered solution for adding more area at the front of stadium seating. The vertical face can be used for additional advertising space, but can also be configured to accommodate stand-up crowd gatherings, ADA access or custom companion seating. Safety handrails are secured directly to the fascia using simple fastening techniques. Integrating stand-up service or press tables is also possible.


Get that Team Spirit!

Meeting the expectations of fans isn’t just about the seating:


  • finishes

  • attachments

  • and fire resistance

also enhance the experience.

Custom yellow demountable SPS stadium seating for LONDON 2012

Having covered many of the built advantages of using Sandwich Plate System, it’s worth taking the time to look at some other ways in which SPS can help a venue meet the expectations of present-day spectators.


SPS components are factory coated with an acrylic paint to meet the venue ‘life to first maintenance’ requirements of ISO 12944 – the universally accepted standard for corrosion protection of structural steel. The three-layer acrylic paint  starts with a zinc-rich primer applied on all walking surfaces. This specialized primer is the paint equivalent to hot-dipped-galvanizing.  The highly flexible, impact-resistant top-coat system does not crack, stain, fade or discolor.

The paint system is designed to last for 15+ years before major maintenance is required.

Color plays an important part in sport, helping to define and create team identities. The majority of SPS components – terrace stands, walls and platforms – can be specified to match team colors as the client and/or architect wishes. For the LONDON 2012 Olympics, SPS Technology was able to help the event organisers’ need for additional seating at Zaha Hadid Architects’ iconic London Aquatics Centre , all with a custom bright yellow finish in line with the event branding.


Custom prefabrication allows SPS Technology to consider all the details.  Our engineers will coordinate with the design team – through drawings, 3D and BIM modelling – making sure that factory-drilled holes accommodate the seating and handrails of choice and can be installed quickly.

On-site drilling is virtually eliminated, and the margin of error is diminished. Our own Platforms, Speed Stairs and Cantilevered Fascias for extra seating and advertising can also be accommodated and are designed to fit seamlessly alongside the terraces and bolt together.

Fire Resistance

Stadium and arena stands typically sit above open areas with no fire risk and requiring no fire resistance rating.  For areas above concessions, food outlets or storage rooms, SPS stands can be easily fitted with fire protection to their underside to provide the required period of fire resistance. Active protection systems such as sprinklers are also used with the SPS terracing system for indoor venues.


Onsite building 


SPS Technology Stadia + Arenas offers exceptionally quick build times with: 


  • Prefabrication

  • Advance co-ordination

  • No wet trades

  • Lightweight lifting plant

  • Less Drilling

SPS bleacher being installed

SPS is an alternative to concrete stadia decking and is constructed in a controlled environment, inside a factory with stringent quality control processes in place to deliver components that are built exactly to spec. This cannot be achieved with pour in place concrete.  SPS also arrives at the site factory finished. The savings to the project schedule thru the elimination of wet trades – fewer trucks, no form casting, no drying times —  is impressive, but it doesn’t end there.

Sandwich Plate System is modular and prefabricated according to coordinated three-dimensional computer models. When it gets to the site, it fits.

Our pre-construction engineers can facilitate clash protection techniques to ensure production has a minimal amount of site modification. If unforeseen site conditions warrant a change in the SPS profile, site modification routines are available.

Shipping and Installation

The SPS Stadia + Arenas System offers a modular system that is factory finished and delivered to the site with all supporting components in 40-foot standard open-top containers (OTCs). Every component is numbered and loaded sequentially into the containers based on the planned erection schedule.  Each shipment is protected with extra dunnage timber or padding between each layer. Installation can then commence almost directly from the OTC using lightweight lifting equipment and using standard rigging methods. That’s a savings of up to 40-50% of time on-site!

The highly coordinated work during the design phase translates to project savings: it requires fewer people to install, manageable by as few as three people. Our installation video from the USTA’s Court 17 shows the real-time installation of a single SPS stadia terrace deck in 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

It gets even better… the frames and bolts that were included as part of shipping the stadium seating get collected after their use, returned to the factory and reused to ship another venue’s seating. SPS Technology have some frames that have helped build six, possibly seven stadia!

Completing the system

The SPS Stadia+Arenas System uses a proven multi-part joint sealing system that offers unparalleled sealing properties against water and contaminant penetration between SPS stadia decking panels and the space below. The system provides long-term protection against foot traffic damage and accommodates dimensional thermal expansion and contraction of the structure.

Most seismic large-movement joint products can also be integrated into the SPS system for easy installation and a clean appearance.

Aisle steps are then added using industrial adhesives, a technology we’ve proven time and again in our Maritime and Offshore applications.


Safety is just

as important 

as sight lines.

SPS absorbs energy as standard and offers hidden benefits for: 


  • extreme weather

  • earthquakes and

  • security.

SPS vs. stiffened steel - blast test
Hidden Benefits — Protecting athletes and fans alike

SPS provides protection – not available in other systems – for extreme events of weather, earthquakes, or threat protection as standard since our stadium seating:

  • deflects globally, absorbing impact or blast energy through the membrane of the entire set of terraces.
  • retains its structural integrity without generating fragmentation allowing safe evacuation or protections.
  • significantly enhances the structure’s performance for earthquake loading.

SPS terraces are up to 80% lighter than their pre-cast concrete counterpart. This leads to a significant reduction in the weight of the structural frame and foundations – raker beams, columns, and braces – which results in more than a 50% reduction in steel framing weight. Overall building mass and seismic loading is considerably reduced, and overall structure drift and lateral movement are proportionately smaller, as seen at San Jose Earthquakes PayPal Park. This seismically robust system is the safest on the market should a natural catastrophe occur.

Individual SPS stadium seating components are bolted to each other, and to each individual stool, using high-strength bolts that then form a complete structural bay. The system is ductile and has proven blast resistance. SPS can withstand extreme loads and absorb impact energy very efficiently without cracking, rupturing, separation or creating fragmentation. SPS has been approved for blast and impact protection and used for offshore oil platforms, floating storage vessels, police holding cells, impact barriers for buildings/government facilities and bridge decks where additional protection was required.

SPS Technology’s Stadia + Arenas team is working with teams now to discuss how dedicated safe areas or ‘safe rooms’ can be created underneath our stadia decking system using SPS. And our dedicated Special Applications team continues to explore the other security and threat protection issues such as direct vehicular impact and hone their expertise with modular prefabricated buildings.

Public Assembly Safety

Rather than marking seats ‘out of action’, it is easy to reconfigure venues using SPS decking with rail or beam-mounted seats. The SPS Stadia+Arenas System offers the opportunity to decrease and increase seat density according to official guidelines, without confusion – the facilities team just needs to unbolt the components.

SPS stadia decking is easy to wash down and sanitize with disinfectant, some of which now offer 30 days’ protection. These sanitization products are applied with a light pressure washer, speeding application and substantially reducing the quantity of product used.