Stadium Industry Updates - 09 July 2024

Old Trafford improvements, Osasuna has repaid stadium loans a decade early, Espanyol terminates naming rights agreement with Stage Front, construction started on Kazakhstan’s biggest football stadium, a billion plastic bottles take over Eden Park and much more in our latest stadium industry updates.

Manchester United starts replacing the Stretford End’s executive seating and revamping the player's tunnel 

Manchester United has started replacing 850 executive seats in the Stretford End at Old Trafford with general admission season tickets seats. The refurbishment was first announced back in January 2023. This decision was made after consultation with fan representatives. This included the installation of rail seating and the creation of a dedicated atmosphere section in the Stretford End. The new seats will be in place before the start of the 2024-25 season.  

Work has also commenced on the redesign of the iconic players tunnel at Old Trafford to create a performance environment that will inspire and motivate their players. Existing plaques in memory of former club president John Henry Davis and former owner James W. Gibson will both be given a new place within the tunnel.  

CA Osasuna has repaid stadium loans a decade early 

La Liga Club CA Osasuna settles their 3 stadium loans a decade early worth €16m in total. With these loans, it was possible to renovate their home, Estadio El Sadar. The loans were projected to be repaid by 2034. The club stated: “With this week’s payment, the three bank loans are definitively cancelled and the Foral Community of Navarra is released from the guarantees, leaving the club with 3.2 million of debt from 2003 and 2.7 million of a loan requested in the pandemic”. The renovation has generated in tickets sales alone more than €10m despite capacity limitations during the Covid-19 pandemic. This figure will increase to more than €14m next season.  

The renovation of the stadium included an extra tier of seats on its smaller stands and corners, a new roof, 1,300 safe standing places, a club museum, renovation of the corporate and hospitality areas and improvements to the players’ area.  

RCD Espanyol terminates naming rights agreement with Stage Front

La Liga club RCD Espanyol ends its five-year naming rights deal after 1 year with ticketing group Stage Front because of the non-payments and breach of contract. The club is also taking legal actions against the US-based ticketing group to seek the money it claims to be owed. The deal was made in March 2023 and was worth €1m per year over 5 years but it was reported that the value would be closer to €2m because the club is back in the top division. The contract also stated Stage Front was to provide the stadium with its technology and club needed to offer visibility and promote the different options offered by the company. 

Construction started on Kazakhstan’s biggest football stadium 

The construction of a new 35,000 capacity stadium has begun. The stadium will be the new home for national champions FC Ordabasy. It will replace the Kazhymukan Munaitpassov stadium which opened in 1969. A ceremony for laying the foundation stone took place. Construction will be completed in mid-2026. 

Manchester United considers selling Old Trafford naming rights  

Manchester United is considering selling the naming rights of a refurbished Old Trafford or after construction of a new stadium. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, part-owner of the club, wants to increase revenues to fund the project. The 114 years old home of the club is always known as Old Trafford and the club has never sold its naming rights. The main supporters' group of the club said that fans should be consulted over any plans to sell naming rights of Old Trafford.  

United is also considering increasing the ticket price substantially. The last price increase was during the 2022-23 season with an increase of 5%. Before that, the price stayed the same for 11 years.  

A billion plastic bottles take over Eden Park in Greenpeace's latest campaign 

Eden Park, New Zealand’s National Stadium, played a central role in a new Greenpeace campaign. The campaign marks the start of Plastic Free July in New Zealand. In the CGI-generated video, the stadium is seen filled with a billion single-use plastic bottles. This illustrates the number of throwaway single-used plastic bottles sold in New Zeeland every year by corporations. The stadium itself has made a series of sustainability commitments including the reduction of water usage and rubbish separation. Also, all the food in the stadium is packaged and sold in commercially compostable products.  

Twickenham Stadium has announced revamping Grand Slam Room.  

Twickenham Stadium will renovate the Grand Slam Room in order to improve its events space and hospitality offering. The Grand Slam Room is renowned for hosting product launches, mini expos and meetings. The space will feature an industrial look with an open and airily environment, innovative lighting with lightboxes that create the illusion of natural light and a dedicated reception desk. It will have a capacity for over 100 delegates with networking and lounge areas including an integrated bar and buffet station. The renovation will be completed by October.  

Ospreys announce St Helen’s as new home stadium 

Ospreys, Welsh United Rugby Championship club, announced it has selected St Helen’s Sports Ground in Swansea as its preferred location for their new home. The club will make a multi-million pound investment in the site that includes a new 4G pitch, new stands, a refurbishment of the club house and the introduction of a new fan zone area. Swansea RFA and Swansea University will continue to play at St Helen’s. The aim is to provide fans with an unrivalled match day experience and develop new opportunities for non-match day events and revenue. The club aims to play at their new home from the 2025/26 season.  

Guernsey FA unveils name for new stadium 

The new venue will be known as Victoria Park and will be the first permanent home of the GFA and the new home of Guernsey FC. The name reflects the stadium’s location on Victoria Avenue. The stadium will feature 600 covered seats. There will also be space for standing fans, 3g pitch and training area, a multi-purpose club house, a boardroom and rehabilitation/ physiotherapy rooms. The new stadium will cost £10m. £1.175m is supplied by the football foundation and private donations. The football foundation is a charity partnership between the Premier League, the Football Association and the UK Government. The Football Stadia Improvement Fund will also be funding the project alongside a £250,000 HQ grand from the Football Association. Construction work began in July 2023 and is projected to be competed in March 2025.