The newly opened New York City headquarters for Fanatics, a global digital sports platform, offers insight into the state of corporate office design in a post-pandemic world. Growing quickly in recent years, Fanatics needed to expand its New York presence and did so with a new 125,000-square-foot Manhattan office located in the West Village.
The space, which opened in February 2023, brings together over 300 employees across Fanatics’ 3 distinct businesses of commerce, collectibles, and betting and gaming, and it is the first home of Fanatics, Inc., its larger parent company. A key guidepost for the gut renovation of a circa 1911 structure was to make the space compelling for staff who had been working remotely for much of the previous couple of years.
“We had several conversations about what type of work space would inspire a more regular return to the office,” says Michael Hudson, vice president of global real estate for Fanatics. The point was to make it a space that commuters would want to be in, so that their efforts leaving home felt worthwhile. Two principles emerged from that discussion: make the space an engaging, experiential environment and provide numerous spaces of varying sizes for collaborative meetings.
In addition, the company strives to create a wow factor. For example, having a giant digital screen constantly tuned to sporting events around the world adds a distinctive element, instilling appropriate ambience and energy for a business catering to sports fanatics.
The 21-foot HD screen looms large within two stories. Part of the floor and the ceiling were demolished to accommodate the screen and to create a large, open area that serves as a design focal point and event space. Another inspired touch is a tunnel-like hallway that feeds into this space, emulating the experience of walking out from a locker room to the field of play at a stadium.
Additionally, the office will house a broadcast studio to capture athlete interviews, live card “breaking,” and other engagement opportunities through a purposefully designed, content-centric space.
One of the main goals of the design—to promote interpersonal communication and connections that spawn innovative ideas and initiatives—is reflected in the array of differently sized meeting spaces. Gathering places include rooms akin to oversized phone booths that can accommodate 2 people, rooms with a capacity of 30, and the most commonly sized spaces hosting 4 to 6 people. Digital booking software allows teams to quickly schedule meetings when the need arises.
Two larger multipurpose spaces (one primarily used as a café) have flexible partitions that can open to host up to 100 people for special events. For instance, during the first month after the office opened, Fanatics hosted a project launch for Topps’ Series One Launch, a big moment for the company’s preeminent trading card brand.
The workspace designs developed as an open office, neighborhood concept with workers grouped according to function. While an open office fosters a collaborative culture, there is also a need for significant sound dampening and the inclusion of private spaces to accommodate for employees doing focused work.
As a result, Fanatics chose a design with optimized sound reflecting features, such as rugs and sound-absorbing tiles, along with piped-in white noise to lower the ambient sound volume and reduce distractions.
A few weeks after the opening, Hudson noticed that the design formula seemed to be working very well. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “The space is exuding energy.” Employees have been showing up at the office in accordance with management’s hopes, with most working onsite around three days a week.
Planning for two more phases of the project are underway. One, a 15,000-square-foot museum and retail space will showcase Fanatics’ products, collectibles, and partner brand products. As Fanatics continues to grow at a fast pace, it will need another floor of office space to raise the capacity to about 400 employees.
With a new NYC office well on its way, there is plenty more on Hudson’s plate. Fanatics recently opened its first retail sportsbook location at FedExField, home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders, and became the first location inside an NFL stadium. As legislators legalize sports betting in additional states, there could be more Fanatics-branded betting outlets to come.
Hudson is also responsible for overseeing about 6,000,000-square-feet of industrial and warehousing space nationwide. These facilities manufacture and distribute Fanatics products in every region of the US and in several key markets internationally.
To make the most efficient use of these properties, Hudson’s team constantly investigates ways to modernize facilities, optimize their use, and consolidate locations to maximize efficiency. The company’s strategy for growth is a “win” across the board, as employees thrive in new work spaces throughout the country. Under Hudson’s leadership, it’s safe to bet that the future of Fanatics is in good hands.
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