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You might hear them referred to as inflatable sports domes, single skin bubbles, air-supported structures or even tennis domes.
These names all give a pretty good idea of how air domes work.
Essentially, an air dome is a large area covered by a fabric sheet.
This sheet has been anchored to the ground and filled with pressurised air.
Air domes are a popular choice for covering outdoor tennis courts and football pitches because they’re (relatively) cheap to purchase and fast to install.
In fact, air domes are typically half as expensive to buy as equivalent fabric sports buildings.
But what about running costs?
Air domes need at least one blower unit operating 24/7 to stay inflated.
As you can imagine, the costs of running that unit can quickly add up.
That said, there are both pros and cons to choosing an air dome to cover your outdoor courts.
We’ve summarised these below.
Key takeaway: Although air domes are initially cheaper to purchase and install, the cost of maintaining the structure could offset any initial savings
A Multi-Use Games Area Cover is an open-sided structure with a roof.
They’re designed to cover outdoor courts and pitches, providing a self-contained playing area. Because they’re open-sided, buyers immediately save on the cost of four walls.
Key takeaway: MUGA covers have lower running costs than air domes but they’re limited when it comes to year-round use
Fabric sports structures are like MUGA covers but, instead of open sides, they’re fully enclosed and often steel clad around the bottom two metres.
In fact, some fabric sports structures look just like ‘traditional’ sports halls:
Many people choose air domes and MUGA covers because they seem like the simple and cost-effective choice.
In some ways, they are.
Strictly speaking, you can’t cover existing courts with a fabric sports building.
Because of the groundworks required, you’d likely need to put in a new sports surface, thus incurring additional costs.
Not to mention the cost of the building itself which, by virtue of being a fully enclosed building rather than a bubble or canopy, is higher than for an air dome or MUGA cover.
But does that automatically make air domes and MUGA covers better options for providing indoor courts?
Let’s look at the pros and cons:
There are pros and cons to all three methods for covering outdoor courts and pitches.
If you’re looking for a temporary solution, an air dome may be your best bet based on lower initial costs.
On the other hand, if you need something more permanent, a MUGA cover could be the answer.
But if you’re looking for a structure you can use year-round, a fabric sports structure is your best bet.
Considering a fabric sports structure to bring your courts or pitches indoors?