Sophistication a New Goal for Sports Graphics


Shaping the Fan Experience


For Ashton Design, this year
has been one long road trip.

They’ve bounced back and forth from the 100th anniversary renovation of Fenway Park in Boston, to the Red Sox’s strikingly modern spring training facility in Florida, back to their hometown of Baltimore to refresh the timeless look of Camden Yards for its 20th anniversary, and to Florida again to design the Orioles’ offseason home.

The previous generation of stadiums focused on luxury suites as big revenue generators, concentrating on the corporate client versus the everyday fan. The watchword today is “fan experience”‒ wider concourses, thoughtful attention to fan comfort, amenities to get fans to the park early and keep them onsite. Teams are removing whole sections of seats for rooftop bars with city views, bringing street vendors and local restaurants into the venue, partnering with local businesses to activate the neighborhoods around the ballpark. Historic ballparks like Fenway are 12-month operations, with daily tours and year-round event calendars.

The Ashton team has been able to help sports franchises understand that graphic designers can be full partners in shaping the fan experience. Noting that a successful stadium brand forges a unified look and makes fans feel that this is “our house,” they say that the key is not to plaster lots of logos but to “uncover a park’s unique vernacular and create a foundation style that is applied to everything from ADA signage to the scoreboard, and interior design of restaurants to the sculptures honoring Hall of Famers outside of the stadium.”

As Fenway Park reached its century mark this year, Ashton Design also took the opportunity to produce a limited edition book that chronicles its role in the historic revitalization of the ballpark.