First-of-its-kind standing seat system announced for the UK

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A UK first has been announced at a sports venue in Telford. Its grandstand is to become the first in the country to have seating that increases capacity when used for standing.

The rail seats to be installed in the stand at Telford Athletics Stadium will enable a capacity increase of 80 percent when used in standing mode. To be supplied by Ferco Seating from nearby Shrewsbury, this style of seating has been installed previously by the company at Celtic FC and Shrewsbury Town, where the ratio of standing fans to seats is 1:1. Now, for the first time in Britain, the ratio in Telford will be 1.8:1.

Based on a new provision made in the latest edition of the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s ‘Green Guide’, this will be achieved by having an intermediate step along each row, thus enabling spectators to stand in two lines between the end-to-end barriers formed by the rail seats.

Telford athletic centre – rail seats unlocked and lowered for seating

Planned by James Maxwell of the biT Group and due to be built by contractors Welch and Phillips, the ground-breaking stand will house 110 spectators in seated mode and 198 when used for standing.

“The previous stand at the stadium had been badly vandalized, so when it was decided to rebuild it, the client wanted rugged, vandal-proof seats. That’s why they opted for our steel RailSeat,” explains Ferco Seating’s managing director, Michael Burnett. “We were also keen to provide the stadium operator with the flexibility to operate the stand as an exclusively seated area, as all standing or as a mix of both,” adds Maxwell. “By building the intermediate step into the design, we were able to do that.”

When the stand opens in May, the seats’ default position will be tipped back flush between the uprights, locked in place for maximum protection from vandalism whenever the stadium is not in use. When it stages events, they will either be unlocked and lowered for use as seating or left locked so that the stand can be used for standing. In the latter case, the seats’ minimal closed depth of just 50mm and the seating row depth of 800mm will comfortably leave the prescribed space for two lines of spectators.

Example of the intermediate step concept on a 760mm deep seating row

Increasing spectator capacity in this way is an idea that is interesting football clubs too. Both Everton and Lincoln City have recently submitted planning applications with scope for doing this incorporated into their designs.

Ferco’s MD comments “At the Telford Athletics Stadium and at football stadia like these the key to being able to increase capacity in this way is fitting rail seats that take up as little space as possible. If when closed the seats are just 50mm deep, like those to be used in Telford, or just 100mm deep like our RailSeat 100 pictured in the Lincoln City image, then – wherever regulations allow – creating extra capacity in this way is very doable.”

The company is also responsible for providing seats for projects as diverse as the London 2012 Aquatic Centre, all seating at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, VIP seats at Headingley Cricket Ground.

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at magazines and websites around the world for the past 10 years covering everything from technology to motoring and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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