Why sports stadiums need more than just fans for sustainability

When you think of UK sports stadiums, a few famous ones probably spring to mind: Wembley, Twickenham, the Etihad, Old Trafford– all of which have more in common than just hosting some of the world’s biggest sporting events.

As well as match days, which happen once or twice a week, these enormous venues attract tourists from all over the world with their stadium tours, family activities and interactive experiences. In fact, experiences and attractions at stadiums such as these, which have crowd capacities of up to 90,000 people, are crucial to a club’s commercial strategy and sustainability.

More than just a place of worship for die-hard fans, sports stadiums are commercially driven venues that need to be able to generate income and attract crowds throughout the year – something which lies beyond the limits of match-day revenue.

Aside from regular sports matches and one-off events, such as music concerts, stadiums still need to be able to generate a buzz and draw in crowds in order to survive. It’s also important that the demographic of these crowds stretches well beyond dads and lads. This presents a very different challenge to normal exhibitions and tourist attractions.

Our experience in this area is something that is especially unique to us. We understand that developing an exhibition or tour at a venue such as a sports stadium is very different to designing one at a dedicated museum. Yes, there needs to be a story to tell, something with emotion and intrigue; and a well-structured flow that is engaging and easy to follow much like regular exhibitions. But complexity is added into the mix when you must consider seasonality, flexible opening hours to fit with sporting calendars and working within spaces that might be scattered across the entire stadium footprint.

Our most recent project was the Aviva Stadium in Ireland – a highly acclaimed stadium filled with Irish sporting history that spans over a century. The venue is unlike any other sporting ground in Ireland, as it’s home to both the Irish football and rugby national teams, meaning we had the challenge of showcasing the amazing history and heritage of both sports equally, whilst maintaining its position as one of the must-visit destinations in Dublin.

Aviva Stadium

We created a cohesive branded look and feel to the new visitor journey and developed a new, dynamic film in the press conference suite to capture the true spectacle and emotion of the international sport that takes place at the stadium.

We achieved this by working with both federations to develop new interpretative installations in the service tunnel, players’ entrance, pitch entrance, press area, press conference suite, photographers’ room, press reception and corridor spaces along the route to guide visitors to the next part of the tour.

The Aviva Stadium prides itself on being a unique, world-class international stadium and an outstanding venue for football, rugby, concerts and conferences, providing a top-class experience for visitors, fans and teams. With the new additions drawing in even larger crowds, the stadium’s longevity stands to flourish well into the future.