How the FBA Candidate Francesco Gizzi experienced Part I of the Stadium Operations Course - Powered by ESSMA

Francesco Gizzi, a Candidate of the FBA Professional Master in Football Business, about his learnings from Part I of the Stadium Operations Course - Powered by ESSMA. The FBA, an ESMMA Partner, offers its students a Professional Master in Football Business with the objective to deliver them all the necessary tools and an optimal learning environment in order to succeed in the passionate and dynamic football industry.

Part I of the module focused on the development and construction phase of a stadium, that is the very early stages when a renovation or a construction project is being thoroughly considered by the club management. Guest speakers included John Barrow, an international architect with over 30 years of experience in the field of sports and entertainment venues, and Birger Nass, Head of Stadium Infrastructure and Stadium Security at DFL (the German Football League).

"The Stadium Operations course - Powered by by ESSMA - is perhaps the best example of what I was hoping when applying for the FBA Master. A great combination of insightful presentations and case studies to look at, which really allows the FBA candidates to get closer to the field and to get an overall understanding of the football business itself. As well as the chance to talk to stadium industry professionals." 


First and foremost, we took a closer look at the main stakeholders involved in this lengthy and quite complex process: owner, sponsors, funders, municipality, naming rights partners, federations, developers, contractors, local and national politicians and many others which have huge interests at stake and are to be taken always into consideration especially in this first stage in order to avoid serious issues later on. What’s more, all the details and requirements must be stated clearly since the very beginning: from the seating capacity to food and beverage, spaces allocated to media, hospitality, suites, lounge, fan zones, security and safety provisions, etc. 

Case studies on construction and design

Furthermore, John Barrow shared case studies including Groupama Stadium of Olympique Lyonnais, Emirates Stadium, several venues of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Fisht Stadium, etc. All venues show what a modern and successful stadium is supposed to deliver nowadays: lots services and entertainment which go beyond the football match itself and is therefore capable of creating a reliable stream of revenue from the matchday activity of a club. 

Impact of stadium development

With Birger Nass, we had to change the perspective on the matter. In fact, the compliance with the national federation requirements, in this specific case the German Football League, is also an important factor to be taken into account and sometimes can be a boost to renovate or construct a new stadium as we’ve seen in his presentation. Among the 6 licensing criteria which ought to be fulfilled every year by German clubs, in fact, one is about the infrastructure. Clubs in their respective league have to present facilities which are deemed suitable to host fans when it comes to safety and security. Interestingly, we saw how the process of renovation and construction did not end with the World Cup in 2006, quite the opposite. Since 2007, the year immediately after, in Germany 10 brand new stadiums have been built. And this comes as no surprise if we were to give a glimpse to the figures. Just to put this claim into context, Mainz opened its new stadium, the Opel Arena which cost around € 60 million, for the 2011-2012 season and in only one season had accounted for a percentage growth in its revenues of roughly 61%, from € 41 million to €68. A figure which points out immediately how much benefits a club can get from owning a modern new stadium and highlights, even more, why it is so crucial for young future professionals like us to be acquainted with this increasingly important aspect of the football business.

Part II of the course will focus on Operations & Exploitation with guest speakers Ben Veenbrink and Balint Maté.