Stadium Industry Updates 02 May 2023

The latest updates from the European stadium industry!

London Irish reportedly considering move to Cherry Red Records Stadium

Premiership Rugby club London Irish has contacted AFC Wimbledon about using its Cherry Red Records Stadium, with reports suggesting a groundshare deal could be in the offing. In a statement, Wimbledon said it had been approached by London Irish about utilising its 9,000-seat stadium – known to fans as Plough Lane – although no detailed discussions have taken place. London Irish has not made a statement following Wimbledon’s claims. London Irish has played at Brentford FC’s Gtech Community Stadium since it opened in 2020, but it has been suggested this partnership could be severed when it concludes in three years’ time as there are concerns that rugby has had a detrimental impact on the pitch.

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Real Betis to develop a virtual stadium in the metaverse

Real Betis and Crypto Blockchain Industries (CBI) are to develop a virtual universe dedicated to the high-flying LaLiga club within the French technology company’s Football at AlphaVerse (FAV) platform. According to a statement issued by the partners, fans entering Betis’ digital world will be able to move through different 3D spaces, including a digital replica of the club’s the Benito Villamarín Stadium and the city of Seville itself. Visitors will also be able to purchase both digital assets and real products and services. The metaverse, which is due to go live ahead of the 2023-24 season, will be developed through the technical collaboration of 60 specialised studios in the video game and Web3 sector.

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New stadium plans revealed for CSKA Sofia

CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria’s most successful football team, has unveiled plans for the reconstruction of the Bulgarian Army Stadium in its centenary year. The stadium, first opened in 1923, will be rebuilt as a UEFA Class IV venue with a view to hosting major matches. Plans were unveiled by CSKA, Sports Properties Bulgarian Army and engineering company IPA, who gave technical details and information about the financing of the project and the potential benefits for the general public. However, no details of the upgraded stadium’s capacity, which is presently 23,000, were revealed.

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Italian stadium projects lose EU “COVID recovery” funding

The European Commission has confirmed that Italy has been barred from directing almost €150m of Covid recovery funds towards major stadium projects in Florence and Venice. Italy had earmarked €93.5m of European Union-backed National Recovery and Resilience Facility (PNRR) cash for the Bosco Dello Sport project in Venice, and €55m for the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The latter is the home of Serie A club Fiorentina and is one of the stadiums put forward to host UEFA EURO 2032 matches should Italy’s bid be successful. The PNRR cash for Venice was to be put towards the wider sports forest project rather than the stadium itself. Italian ministers confirmed that the two Integrated Urban Plans (IPP) would be among the beneficiaries of the PNRR cash back in April 2022, and it was only in late March 2023 that the Commission challenged the decision. Now a statement issued by the Italian Government has confirmed that the stadium projects cannot be the recipients of funds.

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to host 2024 European rugby finals

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is to finally stage European club rugby’s biggest event next year after it was confirmed as the host of the 2024 EPCR Finals Weekend. The Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals will take place on May 24-25 at the 62,850-capacity home of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs’ stadium had been due to host this season’s finals but they had to be switched to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium because of complications caused by the Premier League finishing later because of last year’s FIFA World Cup and the impact of the rugby fixture schedule because of the Rugby World Cup in France later this year.

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FC Barcelona rounds up funding for Espai Barça project

FC Barcelona has finalised €1.45bn of financing to complete the Espai Barça project that will include the remodelling of the Spotify Camp Nou. The Spanish LaLiga club said in a statement that the funding has been sourced from 20 investors, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, and meets the criteria approved in the referendum of members by avoiding an equity guarantee from the club or mortgage on the stadium.

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Orange deploys new 5G system at Olympique Marseille’s Orange Vélodrome

TOTEM, a subsidiary of telecommunications company Orange, has deployed a 5G network at Orange Vélodrome, the home of French Ligue 1 football club Olympique de Marseille.New antenna infrastructure at the stadium will allow customers of telco operators Bouygues Télécom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR to utilise the technology. “Connecting an indoor environment to the latest generation of 5G, which can be used by almost 68,000 people at the same time, is a real technical challenge,” said Thierry Papin, CEO of TOTEM France.

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Allianz Arena to expand capacity by adding standing places

Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena is set for a capacity increase that will close the gap on Borussia Dortmund’s status as the club with Germany’s biggest stadium. Reports in Bild claim the stadium’s north stand will undergo a redevelopment project over the summer that will see the capacity lifted by 2,000 to 77,000 as an area in the lower tier of the north stand with 2,500 seats is transformed into 4,500 standing spaces. The increase will come in time for the next Bundesliga season and UEFA Euro 2024, when the Munich venue will stage games through to the quarter finals.

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Wimbledon Tennis focusing on renewable energy strategy

Wimbledon tennis championships is expanding the use of renewable energy and reducing plastic waste and water usage as it aims to meet its sustainability targets. In an update on plans for the 2023 Grand Slam event, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said it was working with partner Evian to develop the pilot of an on-court refillable water solution to reduce waste and the use of plastics. Players will be provided with reusable bottles that they can refill during their time at the championships. Officials said another initiative is to connect its renewable electricity supply to facilities in The Queue, allowing it to accelerate the phase out of generators used during the event. In the area of food and beverage, all food menus for all guest groups will have low CO2 dishes highlighted to help guests make environment-positive choices if they wish. The AELTC will again host its Environment Positive Panel on Thursday, July 6, and take the opportunity to highlight this theme throughout the day.

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