ESSMA Stadium Industry Updates 5 December 2023

New contractor sought for Casement Park, ECB launches sustainability plan, Johan Cruyff arena signs Levy as new catering partner, Arena for Milan breaks ground... and much more in our latest stadium industry updates!

Northampton makes breakthrough on East Stand development

League One football club Northampton Town has reached an agreement with GRS Group to complete work on a new East Stand at Sixfields Stadium.

GRS was chosen after Northampton spoke to various contractors as part of a thorough tendering process carried out by the club.

Work on the stand has been left incomplete for over eight years. In March last year, West Northamptonshire Council agreed to an offer from Town’s owners to acquire land next to the stadium following years of talks.

The East Stand has been mothballed since 2014 after work was suspended as contractors went unpaid. Northampton revealed designs for a proposed redevelopment of the stand in June 2021. The project will increase the capacity of Sixfields to just over 8,000.

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New contractor sought for Casement Park redevelopment

The Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association has announced that Heron Bros Limited will no longer be delivering the main works contract for a redeveloped Casement Park, the Belfast stadium that is due to be a host venue during the UEFA Euro 2028 football tournament.

Heron Bros Limited had been Ulster GAA’s long-standing construction contractor for the Casement Park project. Plans for a new venue at Casement Park have been on the table for more than 10 years but the project has stalled due to financial and planning issues.

Last month, it was announced that Euro 2028 will be co-hosted by England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A redeveloped Casement Park is scheduled to be Northern Ireland’s sole host venue.

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England Cricket launches sustainability plan

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has signed up as a member of the UN Sports for Climate Action framework after launching a new environmental sustainability plan for the sport.

The ECB has set a target of halving its emissions by 2030, and plans on developing a carbon reduction plan over the next 12 months after joining the framework.

According to the ECB’s sustainability manager, Kathy Gibbs, the organisation is the first cricket governing body to have signed up to the framework.

“We know that signing up has the benefits of working with others across many sports and sharing resources and ideas in this space to reach our common goal of a more sustainable future for all of our sports,” Gibbs said.

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Edgbaston to open on-site catering and hospitality training centre

Edgbaston Stadium, home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, has announced plans to open a new on-site catering and hospitality training centre.

The centre will be operated by Levy UK + Ireland, the stadium’s catering partner, and is due to open in February. The new space, known as Xcelerate with Edgbaston, will offer career opportunities for local people.

The facility will be located in the Wyatt Stand and will provide front-of-house, back-of-house, facilities management and IT digital solutions training for aspiring chefs and hospitality professionals. It is hoped graduates from the centre will go on to secure jobs at the stadium.

The project is a joint initiative between Edgbaston, Levy, and the latter’s parent company, Compass Group UK & Ireland. The facility ties in with Compass’s ‘Mission to a million’ campaign to impact one million lives by 2030 through its ‘Social Promise’ programme.

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Levy Europe becomes public caterer for Johan Cruijff ArenA

Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff ArenA, home of Eredivisie football club Ajax, has appointed hospitality company Levy Europe as its new public caterer.

As part of the agreement, which begins on January 1, Levy Europe will work with the stadium to redesign its catering offering with a wide range of food and drink experiences delivered through “innovative” services.

Johan Cruijff ArenA will become the first stadium in the Netherlands to offer a range of self-service options, including a checkout-free kiosk and self-order screens. An enhanced menu will also be provided, and a group of Ajax supporters will take part in a trial tasting session prior to the first match in the new year.

The checkout-free kiosk and self-order screens will initially be introduced in the Second Ring on the eastern side of the stadium from January, with a phased approach being deployed in the rest of the venue throughout 2024 and 2025.

Levy Europe will be leading operations at Johan Cruijff ArenA and will be supported by its locally based colleagues at Compass Group Netherlands.

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Riot Games Arena to be developed in Berlin

Video game publisher and esports tournament operator, Riot Games, has revealed plans to revamp its existing LEC Studio facility in Berlin to serve as its new hub for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

The venue will be renamed the Riot Games Arena, with the company stating the major upgrade will see it become a “pioneering, flexible and dedicated” esports facility, servicing all current and future Riot Games esports products held in the region.

The Riot Games Arena in Berlin will offer an enhanced arena and fan experience, as well as improved broadcasting and production capabilities, with the utilisation of Riot Games’ Dublin-based Remote Broadcast Center Powered by AWS.

Through the use of digital technology and what it states will be an innovative infrastructural design, the upgrades will enable the facility to switch seamlessly between any Riot Games esports leagues and their brands, while ensuring all events are produced to company standard.

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Crucial funding package secured for new Cagliari stadium

The project to deliver a new stadium for Italian Serie A club Cagliari Calcio has taken a key step forward, with the Region of Sardinia giving the green light to a €50m funding package, denying that reluctance to back the venture was behind delays for the scheme.

The Regional Council of Sardinia initially gave the green light to provide €50m in funding towards the new stadium back in February, but this was only formally signed off. The Region’s allocation will see €3m allocated by December, €15m in 2024, a further €12 million in 2025, while the last tranche of €20m will be awarded in 2026.

A further €109m needed for the project will be divided between the Municipality of Cagliari and Cagliari Calcio. Approval has been awaited for months by the Municipality and the club, but President of the Region, Christian Solinas, has defended the delays. “As we said from the beginning, we had already allocated these very important resources with the stability law,” he said.

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Arena for Milan breaks ground

CTS Eventim, and design team David Chipperfield Architects and Arup, have marked the start of work commencing in earnest on Arena for Milan.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project, which was also attended by Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala, was held on the venture which seeks to not only create a new landmark for Milan, but also boost Italy’s sports and live entertainment scene.

The Arena, which was designed by David Chipperfield Architects in collaboration with Arup, remains on course to be finished on schedule by the end of 2025, ready to host ice hockey and para ice hockey competitions during the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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Bochum commits long-term future to Ruhrstadion

German Bundesliga football club VfL Bochum has expressed its commitment to staying at the Ruhrstadion and outlined plans to modernise the venue, with expansion deemed infeasible.
The Ruhrstadion has served as Bochum’s home venue since 1938 and underwent a major rebuild in the late 1970s. Its current capacity is around 26,000.
There have been suggestions that Bochum would seek to move to a new stadium but the club has stressed that playing at the Ruhrstadion has “never been an issue”.
Bochum issued a statement in response to “intensive public discussion” surrounding the future of the Ruhrstadion. The club said it has no plans to take part in discussions regarding a potential stadium move and is focused on converting the Ruhrstadion for future use.

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Austria Wien considering stadium sale to address financial woes

Austrian Bundesliga football club FK Austria Wien is considering selling its home stadium, Generali Arena, to address its financial issues.

The club announced this week that it posted a loss of €6.85m for the 2022-23 financial year. It cited an “extremely negative” interest rate development and high depreciation on infrastructure as reasons for the figures.

Austria Wien’s liabilities currently stand at €66.73m and the club’s chief financial officer Harald Zagicek has admitted that the financial situation is “very difficult”. Zagicek pointed to high energy costs and the overall economic situation as factors.

Compared to the previous season, the club’s debt has also risen by almost €2m. Zagicek has discussed the club’s plight in an interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard and revealed that a sale of Generali Arena is being explored.

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium provides financial boost to London

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has helped contribute to a near three-fold growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) and additional jobs supported each year across the local area, with further growth estimated for the coming years, according to the findings of a new report.

The Premier League football club has released an in-depth analysis of its socio-economic impact through the report conducted by consulting company EY. The opening of the £1.2bn Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in April 2019 has seen, in addition to Tottenham Hotspur matches, events such as NFL, concerts, boxing and rugby arrive in the London N17 area.

The study focuses on the 2021-22 season – the first full 12 months of events with fans in attendance since the stadium’s opening, following COVID-19. EY found that the club contributes around £900m of gross output to London’s economy, generating an additional £478m of GVA in London.

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Ministers intervene after rejection of London Sphere project

The UK Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has sought to intervene in an effort to prevent the collapse of the project to deliver a Sphere arena in London.

The move by the Department, led by Michael Gove, comes after the plans were last month rejected by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on the grounds that the proposals would have an “unacceptable negative impact” on local residents.

Sphere Entertainment, formerly known as Madison Square Garden Entertainment, had been seeking to build a venue with 17,500 seats in the heart of Stratford, East London. The company recently opened a Sphere venue in the US city of Las Vegas, with the arena featuring the world’s largest LED screen.

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