Stadium Industry Updates 22 August 2023

Popoulous unveils refereeing facilities at Stockley Park, Real Betis select architects for stadium expansion plan, Manchester United rolls out Extreme Networks new Wi-Fi system, Leinster Rugby gets approval for stadium expansion and much more in this weeks Stadium Industry Updates!

Lord’s cricket ground to boost recycling efforts

The global resource management company will assist the London venue in boosting its sustainability credentials and recycling rates by capturing key materials through the introduction of onsite systems to manage the streams covering food, dry mixed recycling and glass, and implementing new initiatives for processing coffee cups and hand towels. Collected food waste will be used to generate low carbon energy and soil improvement products.

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ESSMA Partner Populous unveils refereeing facilities at Stockley Park

Architecture and design firm Populous has unveiled its newly created Video Assistant Referee (VAR) facility at Stockley Park, with the space to serve as a hub for match officials working in the Premier League. The bespoke facility has been built by the Populous EMEA Design & Build team, with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) organisation having an input into the design. The space includes preparation and debrief areas for pre- and post-match, and a dedicated VAR hub for each match being covered by the VAR and assistant video referee. It also includes an elite conditioning space and a designated recovery area for officials to maintain physical training in line with schedules.

The opening of the new building has been facilitated by investment in the Elite Referee Development Plan. It is hoped the facility will provide an “elite environment” for VAR teams to best support on-field officials.

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Sunderland esports arena wins planning approval

A new esports arena is set to open in Sunderland close to the UK city’s Stadium of Light after the local authority approved a planning application for the development.

The arena is expected to open early next year on the site of a former car showroom off Stadium Way, in the shadows of the 49,000-seat home of EFL Championship football club Sunderland. The facility will be part of a wider performance and education campus linked to the British Esports organisation. Although the development was initially expected to open this summer, revised plans were submitted for planning approval in June, including a scaled-down extension to the existing building. The National Performance Centre for British Esports (NEPC) will include a 200-seat gaming arena with a raised stage area and ancillary spaces for studios, broadcasting and editing. There will also be a separate retail space and a function room with arcade games, screens and a DJ booth, as well as a bar and kitchen, a green room, a VIP area and other facilities.

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RDS Arena expansion approved by City Council

The Royal Dublin Society, owner of RDS Arena, has been given the go-ahead for a €50m expansion of the stadium, which serves as the home of United Rugby Championship team Leinster. The RDS submitted a new planning application to Dublin City Council for the redevelopment of the stadium back in June. The project would raise the capacity of the stadium from 18,500 to 21,500. The Irish Independent newspaper has now reported that Dublin City Council has given the green light for the project, which will centre on a new 6,775-capacity stand. No objections were filed against the application and it is estimated that the expanded stadium would provide around €254m in additional tourism revenue over 25 years.

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ESSMA Partner Extreme Networks delivers new Wi-Fi system at Old Trafford

United has worked with cloud-driven networking company Extreme Networks to fit the new system, which is designed to enhance connectivity for fans on match days. Extreme Networks was named United’s official Wi-Fi network solutions provider and Wi-Fi analytics provider in January 2022 as part of a multi-year deal. United said the system, which uses under-seat Wi-Fi 6 technology, has seen over 1,600 access points installed, making it the largest project of its kind in the UK. Over 4,000 holes have been drilled, over 10,000 seats temporarily removed and replaced, and over 90 miles of cabling installed across the Old Trafford. The roll-out of the new system came after test events were held in the closing games of last season, when over 120,000 fans benefited from more reliable connections.

Extreme Networks will support United in accessing real-time network analytics to drive more personalised and informed decisions around the fan experience and overall venue operations.

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Sturm Graz seeking to buy home stadium

SK Sturm Graz president, Christian Jauk, has said the Austrian Bundesliga club wants to buy its Merkur-Arena in order to make the improvements necessary to stage elite European football. Jauk told Kleine Zeitung: “We want to buy the stadium. We are deeply convinced that this will be the best solution economically for the population as a whole. And we believe that this will eliminate a large number of discussions and problems. It would be a win-win solution.” The newspaper said Sturm intends to invest “an amount in the double-digit millions” for the purchase and acquiring of development rights, while the City of Graz would remain the owner of the land. The club could then carry out renovation work while also operating the venue.

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“Mace” to support London Stadium solar energy project

Mace, the international consultancy and construction company, has furthered its connection with London Stadium and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park by announcing it is providing project management support for the venue’s solar energy project.

London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), owners of London Stadium, are seeking to install an innovative ‘solar membrane’ on its roof in a move that seeks to reduce both carbon emissions and energy bills for the facility. The contract, which comes off the back of an appointment to a LLDC framework, continues Mace’s longstanding presence at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which has been unbroken since 2006 and also sees the firm currently leading on the development of the Stratford Waterfront cultural district.
Supporting the project from the outset, Mace has worked with the stadium operator, LS185, to develop a clear and compelling business case for LLDC. This involved analysis of the environmental benefits, economic viability, return on investment and overall feasibility of the initiative.

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Real Betis select Rafael de la-Hoz and Gensler for stadium renovation

Rafael de la-Hoz and Gensler have seen off competition from six rival proposals to land the contract to design a complete overhaul of Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarín – a project that aims to create a new icon for the Spanish city of Seville.

The proposal made by the Spanish architecture firm and the American studio will develop this key project for the LaLiga club’s growth under its Strategic Plan 2022-26 after winning an international competition launched by Betis on March 7. Betis’ board of administrators decided on the Rafael de la-Hoz/Gensler proposal as the best way to proceed with its vision of transforming the Benito Villamarín, which first opened in 1929, into one of the “referential football venues” at a national level.The new complex will boost club revenue through a new stadium concept that is designed to be open and modern, along with increasing the commercial activity of the club throughout the whole year through the addition of new spaces.

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Man Utd remove hospitality space to open new players’ lounge

The Premier League club’s players previously met at the stadium’s No.7 Suite ahead of home games, however they had to vacate 90 minutes before kick-off so hospitality guests could enter. They have also used facilities at the Lowry hotel in the past. Reports claim Ten Hag requested a bespoke players’ lounge a year ago, telling club executives that it would help to monitor diet and build team spirit. A similar request from former managers Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal had been rejected in the past, but it is believed that chief operating officer Collette Roche signed off on the change because of a renewed “football first” focus under chief executive Richard Arnold. The players’ lounge, which has been installed adjacent to the home dressing room in the stadium’s south stand, has taken about 12 months to get ready because of a reconfiguration of the area in which it is situated. It opened for the first time ahead of the friendly against Lens earlier this month.

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