Fans invited to shape the venues of the future
Wembley Stadium, The O2, Centre Court at Wimbledon and Lords Cricket Ground have been voted the most iconic UK sports and entertainment venues according to a survey of over 2,000 sports and entertainment fans. The survey commissioned by Arup also reveals the improvements the public would like to see in the future. This includes more comfortable, spacious seating (49%), better planning to make it easier to move around busy venues (32%) and safe standing room (27%). Lengthy toilet queues have the most negative impact on visitor’s experiences of major stadia at 41%.
Fans would also like to see more investment in technology to show replays and different camera angles (30%) and improved access at venues through faster ticket checks as well as better venue design to allow entertainment to take place in all weather conditions.
Based on the views of sports and entertainment fans, Arup has created a model of the venue of the future.
“The UK is aiming to attract 80 international sporting events by 2015 and with the 2012 Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee this year, it is critical to look at the expectations and experiences of the tens of thousands of spectators who’ll visit our venues,” explains Nic Merridew, sports leader, Arup UK, Middle East & Africa. “Ergonomics, usability and accessibility play a huge role in shaping visitor’s enjoyment of events and innovation in modern stadia design is incredibly sophisticated.”
Arup is currently involved in projects exploring how enhanced mobile networks, near-field communications and in-venue Wi-Fi are enabling fans to interact with players, performers and each other. High definition and 3D footage are playing a major role as modern stadia cater for the demands of 24-hour media and fans’ use of social media. The firm is also using advanced software modelling and usage analysis to find ways of reducing queues at turnstiles and congestion around venues.
SMG, which runs Manchester Arena and many of the UK’s most successful indoor venues, is incorporating many of these innovations into current and future projects.
In 2008, SMG was chosen by Leeds City Council to manage and operate its long awaited new arena, which opens next year, enabling the company to play an influential role in the design process. By specifying an unique shape for the venue, every seat has optimal sight-lines bringing fans much closers to the action than other arenas. At Manchester Arena, the company has installed a state-of -the-art blanket mobile WiFi wireless communication platform. It is currently exploring and developing applications to exploit this ground-breaking technology and launch exciting new services to enhance the entertainment experience and bring fans closer to artists.
“There is increasing demand for bandwidth as more performers seek to engage more closely with fans during live events. Often graphics and video content have to be downloaded by the artists’ production team just hours before a performance, so at Manchester Arena we installed a high-speed broadband fibre network using wireless connectivity throughout the venue. This enables us to innovate with the event experience and create a more engaging spectacle for fans to enjoy,” says Ben Williams from SMG.
Outside the UK, Madison Square Gardens in New York, Nou Camp in Barcelona, the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing and Bernebau Stadium in Madrid are seen as the most iconic venues amongst spectators.