The FBA Stadium Operations Course Powered By ESSMA - written by The FBA Candidate Taylor Adler

Taylor Adler, a Candidate of the FBA Professional Master in Football Business, about his experience and learnings 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. 

The FBA curriculum encompasses a wide variety of topics related to the football industry. One of the areas covered is Stadium Operations with the help of FBA partner the European Stadium and Safety Management Association (ESSMA). This partnership allowed for FBA students to learn first hand from industry leaders with a variety of different expertise. Cyril De Greve, ESSMA Business Intelligence Manager, hosted the first session where he introduced us to an overview of ESSMA operations and gave a course outline. As mentioned in or introduction session the following lectures would be related to one ESSMA’s six areas of expertise.

In relation to other course offered at the FBA, the Stadium Operations course was structured in a different manner. Each lecturer presented practical lessons from one on the above areas allowing us to cover a wide range of topics related to stadiums and venues.

Development and Construction

In relation to Development and ConstructionJohn Barrow of Populous presented practical cases related to Stadium Development and the impact on the wide range of stakeholders. We covered a variety of projects in which he lead including but not limited to Emirates Stadium, Wembley Stadium, the London Olympic Park, and Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa.  

Key concepts when it comes to stadium development and construction:

  • The importance of understanding stakeholders
  • Legacy planning
  • The implementation of multi-use stadiums to maximize benefit

Sustainability and SMART

Venues that attract large sums of people, like football stadiums, have the potential to produce a lot of waste. The presentation of this case study related to Emirates Stadium and how Arsenal FC approached the journey of becoming a more sustainable club. Michael Lloyd, Deputy Stadium Manager with Arsenal FC, walked us through what it means to be sustainable and how to approach sustainability within stadiums. 

  • The importance of a company wide approach to change
    • In particular, support from the senior level
  • Creation of a Sustainability Policy
  • Implementing new technologies and processes to cut back of emissions

Safety and Security

John Beattie, Stadium & Facilities Director at Arsenal FC and President of ESSMA, lent us his knowledge and expertise related to stadium safety. His presentation detailed the challenges faced and measures taken to maintain safety in a venue like Emirates Stadium. In this day an age a task that becomes more and more complex. The hard and detailed work was simply summarized by, “If the spectators go home in the same conditions they arrive then I feel we have managed the event successfully and safely”, but in reality a much more complicated task. 

In order to accomplish this goal the following should be considered:

  • Importance of preplanning
  • Importance of steward training, in particular communication
    • Stadium staff awareness not limited to game day → non match days just as important
  • Stay up to date with technological advancements and leverage this technology to increase stadium safety

Fan Experience and Hospitality

Julio Tárrega Díez from Valencia CF presented a case study related to implementing technology within a stadium in order to increase Fan Experience. Valencia CF had the goal of integrating the stadium into the clubs digital strategy. He led efforts to implement the most advanced audiovisual systems known to La Liga into Camp de Mestalla. This technology is ultimately used to improve fan experience and offer new activation models for sponsors, a win-win situation for all stakeholders. 

Create a club vision related to technology and digital platforms:

  • What happens around the match can be as attractive as the game itself
  • New technology is a new opportunity to connect with fans and sponsors
  • Use technology to make fans fall in love with every match day

A lecture from George Vaughan continued the theme of implementing technology into stadiums. This case highlighted the challenge of keeping up with the dynamic expectations of fans, many related to technology, and how this is dealt with at a large venue. Twickenham was able to introduce contactless payment, intelligent POS systems, and messaging systems all designed to make the customer experience more enjoyable while simultaneously maximizing revenue for the venue. 

The importance to Connect → Communicate → Conduct when it comes to technology:

  • Use developing technology to connect with fans
  • Use this new connection to communicate with fans
  • Use these new developments to gather information and act on trends

The FBA students gained interesting perspective and insight from Balint Mate, International Project Manager at Ferencvarosi TC. His presentation allowed us to explore different fan cultures from different countries and the impact this had on stadium environment and safety. The projects at Ferencvarosi TC allowed us to explore and discuss how clubs deal with these complex challenges.  

Tournament planning

Dimitri Huygen, Managing Director of ESSMA and Project Director EURO 2020, led the following session related to the road map of tournaments. This session covered key milestones of Euro 2016 and how successes of tournaments are measured. The discussion then went on to the development of the EURO 2020 bid book and creation of the project management roadmap. Further related to tournament planning Matthias Eiles, Advisor on Football Infrastructure with Deutscher Fussball-Bund (DFB), discussed the bidding process of German cities to potentially host EURO 2024 matches.

Key takeaways from tournament planning:

  • The need for transparency in bidding/planning process
  • Importance of stakeholder management 

Overall, the stadium operations course powered by ESSMA was unique but highly effective. This was a helpful format as the stadium industry is unique. Each stadium is unique with a different set of challenges and solutions, so learning from experts in different situations allowed us to establish a broad understanding of how this industry operates. The exposure to leaders from different areas of the stadium industry exposed us to a vast amount of knowledge and practical scenarios from which we could all learn from.