It’s an exciting time to be involved in the beautiful game, as football’s popularity continues to soar in both the UK and across Europe. The latest figures on attendance reveal that over 13.5million people attended Premier League matches, 11million went to Championship games and a further 4.3million attended League 1 ties, in the 2016-17 season alone. In Europe, Germany’s Bundesliga also achieved notable success, with a whopping 12.7milion attendances, despite having 150 less games.

It all paints a very positive picture for clubs, who continue to look for ways to drive engagement, encourage attendance and to find innovative ways to increase matchday revenue.

Next generation stadium design

One area where such innovation can be seen is within stadium design.

  • Retrofit enhancements

There is a growing trend among clubs for the creation of dedicated ‘fan zones’. These areas – usually situated within the grounds and open before and after each game – will commonly provide live music and family entertainment, along with a range of shops, bars and eateries.

They are designed to make the whole visit an experience to be remembered, providing an area for fans to come together and soak up the atmosphere, while encouraging them to spend longer on site with more opportunities to spend – therefore increasing the likelihood of matchday sales.

To see some examples of fan zones in action, check out: Spotlight on stadium fan zones

  • New builds and redevelopments

At the other end of the spectrum are multimillion pound new builds and major redevelopment programmes – and it is here that the bar is truly being raised.

The design of these stadiums of the future, is often focused on three core elements:

  • Technology
  • Sustainability
  • Fan experience

Each stadium is striving to provide a world-class experience for visitors, which utilises the latest in technology and is delivered in a sustainable way.

That’s because fans today have high expectations. Stadiums need to be far more than just a place to sit and watch the game, they need to provide a positive, immersive experience. They are becoming a destination venue in their own right – diversifying into new areas and providing year-round revenue streams, which maximise their potential.

Technology is naturally playing an increasingly large role, helping to enhance both the online and offline experience – from artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to personalize and tailor the fan journey, through to the physical environment and the acoustics, lighting and special effects that help create atmosphere, excitement and take each event up to a whole new level.

Alongside this is a growing global consciousness for sustainability and environmentally-friendly working practices. Making considerations about carbon emissions, waste, materials and renewable energy are all now forming part of the mix.

‘Legacy’ was a term often mentioned about the London 2012 Olympic Games and it is a concept that’s proving equally important for World Cup hosts, who are thinking of both the present and the future when it comes to their designs.

The result is proving to be something quite spectacular.

Tottenham Hotspurs, UK

One of the most impressive and ambitious stadium builds of this generation, Tottenham Hotspurs’ highly anticipated new £750m development has already got pulses racing.

Dubbed as a ‘stadium for everyone’, the project will see the creation of a world class sports, leisure and entertainment destination. It will cater for both football matches and NFL games, as well as hosting concerts and a range of other events.

Atmosphere and providing an ‘incredible fan experience’ sits at the heart of the stadium’s design.  Once complete, it will have a capacity of 61,559 with a 17,500 single tier home southern stand, which it’s claimed will generate a wall of sound.

The seating bowl has been arranged to place fans closer to the pitch than at any other comparable size stadium in the UK. All seats have an uninterrupted view, with comfortable modern seating and more leg-room.

There will be a significantly enhanced experience for spectators walking round the stadium too, with a wide choice of catering and retail options, hosted in generous and welcoming concourse spaces. A public square will provide a focal point for supporters, offering a range of activity zones for fan-themed events, as well as hosting community events run by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

Technology will be used to enhance the fan experience, with connectivity across the whole venue. The club also understands that the ‘game day’ experience starts long before the match itself, and technology will be used to support and enhance this journey at every stage.

Beyond matchdays, the stadium will be active 365 days a year. There will be a museum and stadium tours, plus retail experiences, first-class conferencing and banqueting facilities, and other high-quality leisure facilities, including cafes and a hotel.

Excitement is already building, thanks to an impressive website that allows you to follow the progress of the project in real time, with time-lapse video and drone photography.

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Qatar

The 2022 World Cup is heading to Qatar and work is underway on eight striking new stadiums.

The design of Abu Aboud Stadium is already the source of much discussion, as it looks set to raise the bar dramatically, when it comes to sustainability. It will have a truly unique design that is unlike any FIFA World Cup venue that has gone before it.

The stadium design is described as combining ‘tournament experience and legacy planning in a revolutionary way to create a truly unique venue’. So, what’s so special about it?

The ground-breaking and innovative construction will have a capacity of 40,000 and once the competition is over, it will be capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety, or could be used for numerous other small sporting and non-sporting projects.

Its flexibility comes from the way it is being constructed, which is based around shipping containers. These will form removable seats and work as modular ‘building blocks’. The seats, roof and other components of the arena will all be reusable and repurposed following the end of the tournament.

This unique method of construction is expected to require fewer materials, to create less waste and to reduce the total carbon footprint of the building process. The time taken to build it is also expected to be short – just three years in fact – with the project on track for completion in 2020.

Across the whole portfolio of new Qatar World Cup stadiums, the most environmentally friendly practices and materials are being used. Renewable and low energy solutions are being incorporated wherever possible, helping each stadium become energy self-sufficient.

Another key feature will be advanced cooling technologies and smart design features, which will keep fans, players, officials and everyone else inside the stadiums cool.

Find out more about the 8 Qatar World Cup stadiums here.

New Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona

Another stadium that is moving forward with a strong focus on its green credentials, is Barcelona’s home ground Camp Nou. Situated around 5 km east of Barcelona Old Town, Camp Nou has been FC Barcelona’s home since September 1957. It is one of the world’s greatest football venues and the largest in Europe.

The stadium is being extensively remodelled, with the project expected to complete in 2021. It is already the largest in Europe but will expand to an even greater capacity, with seating for around 106,000 fans.

Supported by an expansive Wi-Fi network, the finished stadium will offer enhanced hospitality and public areas. There will be a spacious Skywalk with 360-degree views of Barcelona and the seating bowl.

Three open concourses will be protected by pitched eaves and level access to the street will be maintained around the stadium.

The stadium will use smart water harvesting solutions and also solar technology to capitalise on sustainable and renewable energy sources.

For more details, click here.


How to enhance your stadium on a small budget

Of course, most clubs won’t have millions and millions to spend on a new stadium or major upgrades. But they will still want to ensure they are optimising attendance figures and maximising matchday sales.

For more ideas about enhancing a stadium on a small budget, see:

For over a decade, Rapid Retail has been working with retailers, brands and sports clubs across the UK and Europe.  For more information and examples, check out Fan Zones, view our gallery, or call the team at Rapid Retail on 01386 555044.