Stadium Industry Updates 29 August

Principality stadium adds rooftop attraction, Club Wembley reports record season, Barrow completes stadium development, FC Barcelona wins opening game in temporary stadium.... and much more in our weekly stadium industry updates!

FC Barcelona wins debut match at Estadi Olimpic

FC Barcelona marked its first LaLiga match at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys with a 2-0 victory over Cádiz. The match attracted a crowd of 39,603, roughly 80% of the overall 54,367 capacity. Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys is serving as the temporary home of Barcelona while the club’s Camp Nou stadium undergoes major renovation work.

Barcelona did play a pre-season friendly at Estadi Olímpic earlier this month but yesterday marked the club’s competitive debut at the stadium, which previously served as the home of RCD Espanyol between 1997 and 2009. Barcelona will be playing at the Estadi Olímpic until November 2024 while the Camp Nou is transformed. The club officially commenced work on the Camp Nou expansion in May, with the project set to add a roof to the stadium and increase its capacity from 98,000 to 105,000.

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Eight venues named for 2025 Rugby World Cup

 The 2025 Rugby World Cup in England will take place in eight stadiums across the country as the women’s tournament expands from 12 to 16 teams. The eight venues are Twickenham Stadium (London), American Express Stadium (Brighton), Ashton Gate (Bristol), Sandy Park (Exeter), AJ Bell Stadium (Salford), Franklin’s Gardens (Northampton), Stadium of Light (Sunderland), and LNER Community Stadium (York). AJ Bell Stadium is subject to final confirmation. The competition will take place from August 22 to September 27, 2025, with the full match schedule and ticketing details to be announced next year. The venues have been announced to mark two years until the start of the tournament.

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Barrow completes stadium development

League Two club Barrow has hailed the completion of redevelopment work which brings its SO Legal Stadium in-line with English Football League (EFL) regulations.The new-look SO Legal Stadium will be fully operational for Saturday’s home League Two fixture against Wrexham. Barrow initially revealed plans to increase the capacity back in May, as part of a renovation project that has taken place over the summer. The away end capacity has been increased to just under 1,000 fans through the installation of 522 new covered seats in the northeast corner of the stadium. Barrow has also fitted 371 covered seats on the West Terrace for the use of home supporters.

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Club Wembley reports record-breaking season

Club Wembley has reported record-breaking sales figures over the last 12 months, with new memberships and renewals driving growth.

Membership sales for the hospitality arm of Wembley Stadium during 2022-23 were up 10% on the previous year while the sales of seats in private boxes rose by 14%. Membership renewals were also well over 70% for the period, which Wembley said is a record amount.

Previously, the 2021-22 season was the most successful year for Club Wembley, but the most recent year’s results have outstripped those figures.

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AFC Bournemouth wants to introduce temporary F&B outlet

Premier League football club AFC Bournemouth has submitted a planning application for a temporary food and beverage outlet at Vitality Stadium. The outlet, which would be located behind the South Stand of the stadium, would include kiosks, an associated store and a covered marquee. The Bournemouth Echo reports that the club is seeking planning permission to house the outlet for five years. This would be in line with a separate application Bournemouth submitted in February to retain the South Stand, a temporary structure that has been in place for almost 10 years. Savills, which has submitted the application on behalf of the club, has said that a permanent food and beverage outlet could eventually be incorporated into a redeveloped South Stand. Alternatively, a wider revamp of Vitality Stadium or a move to a new stadium would mean that the temporary outlet is not required long-term.

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Liverpool FC and Anfield Road Stand uncertainty

Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan has admitted that the club is in a “holding pattern” when it comes to the Anfield Road Stand expansion project, following the news last week that Buckingham Group Contracting had filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators. Buckingham is overseeing the £80m expansion of the Anfield Road Stand, which will add 7,000 seats to Anfield and increase the stadium’s overall capacity to 61,000. On July 26, Liverpool announced that Anfield would operate at a reduced capacity for the opening exchanges of the 2023-24 season due to delays in the delivery of the stand.

As a result, the new upper tier of the Anfield Road Stand was closed for Liverpool’s first home match of the season against Bournemouth at the weekend, although the existing lower stand was open and operational. Liverpool said at the time that the additional capacity would be incrementally phased in during the course of future home fixtures, with a view to opening the new-look stand in October.

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Twickenham Stoop to host landmark United Rugby Championship game

The United Rugby Championship (URC) has announced it will stage its first game in London, with Welsh team the Ospreys taking on South Africa’s Sharks at Twickenham Stoop later this year. The home of English Premiership club Harlequins will host the Round 3 encounter on November 3. The initiative has been led by Ospreys, which plays its home games at Stadium, with the support of Durban-based Sharks, the URC and key stakeholders. The URC, which comprises clubs from Wales, South Africa, Ireland, Italy and Scotland, said its biggest fanbase outside of its core markets resides in London. The URC in May pointed to improved fan engagement campaigns as a means to help it to break attendance records for the 2022-23 season.

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Principality stadium to add new rooftop attraction

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has announced that Cardiff’s Principality Stadium will become the latest major UK venue to incorporate a rooftop visitor attraction.

The WRU, which owns and operates Principality Stadium, has partnered with urban aerial adventure experts Wire & Sky to develop what it states will be a “high flying, adrenaline-fueled visitor attraction” for the Welsh capital’s skyline. Set to open in March 2024, the multi-million pound project will be operated by Wire & Sky on behalf of the WRU Group. The attraction will include full disabled access to the experience, both for ambulant disabled and those in wheelchairs. Wire & Sky, which has worked on similar projects at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Liverpool FC’s Anfield and The O2 arena, has already begun building work in Cardiff which is now visible from Principality Stadium’s riverwalk.

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