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Fans first at sports venue summit

Sports venue professionals came together to share their insights and expertise at the first SVG Europe/Panstadia Sports Venue and Fan Engagement Summit at the ISE exhibition in Amsterdam.

The experts shared their knowledge on a range of subjects from stadium design trends and the future of fan engagement to IP networking and the stadium of the future.

In the Stadiums Present and Future: Design Trends and Operatoinal Challenges panel, experts explored the importance of building flexibility into the design of a stadium or arena.

Peter Ayres, director of buildings and places at AECOM, talked about the importance of the role of the architect and engineer in helping clients make the right choices regarding the design and function of the venue and the importance of using an experienced stadia architect.

Paul Brislin, director and architect at Arup said it was crucial to build in flexibility to a venue, including into back of house variables.

He also stressed the importance of having the right digital infrastructure in place from the outset.

Mark Kelly, Ashton Gate Ltd managing director talked about the lost generation of 17-28 year olds who they struggle to engage with and attend matches.

He said one focus of Bristol Sport is now in targeting potential younger fans, from the age of seven upwards, to try to make them fans for life.

The panel discussed how modern stadia are often designed by TV requirements, while the importance of blending traditional with modern features without detracting from the atmosphere in the stadium was also highlighted.

In a session on New Initiatives to Engage with Fans and Maximise Revenue Streams, flexibility was also high on the agenda.

Jeroen Van Iersel, marketing manager for the Amsterdam ArenA said that as well as making Ajax fans feel at home for every football match, the arena caters for hundreds of other events every year. He said:

This means handling 70-80 large conferences, each with breakout rooms for 20 to 5,00 people. But we want to make every visitor, for whatever reason they’re here feel welcome – and then convert that single visit to multiple extra visits.

For more from the SVG Europe/Panstadia Sports Venue and Fan Engagement Summit panel sessions, see the spring issue of Panstadia and Arena management.