Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium is hoping to repeat its pitchside dining experience after tasting success with its launch over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Around 200 diners enjoyed eating at the side of the pitch on Sunday at the home of English Football League club Bristol City and Premiership rugby side Bristol Bears.

Some 30 tables were used for lunch and dinner services, with each able to cater for four people. Families enjoyed the opportunity to sit at the side of the pitch in the afternoon for a pizza lunch, with a date night and steak night theme in the evening.

Diners were able to walk through the tunnel and out into the stadium bowl, before enjoying photo opportunities before being seated for al fresco dining on pitchside picnic benches. They could also display a red card if they required attention from staff.

“Lunchtime was more of a family event – the kids loved running out of the tunnel. We played 7 Nation Army about a thousand times for them! We had a lovely email from a couple enjoying their anniversary as well,” said Jenny Hutchinson, head of venue & events, Ashton Gate Stadium.

Lunchtime diners could choose from a selection of Pizza Workshop pizzas, while those in the evening were offered a package including a welcome drink of Prosecco, beer or soft drink, followed by a sharing tomahawk steak, potato salad, green salad and a selection of breads.

Ashton Gate also hosted a comedy night over the weekend, which was also a first since lockdown as the venue looks at opportunities to attract customers and drive revenue with doubts over how much can be generated in the coming months with fans still banned from sporting events.

Hutchinson said the events were inspired by the need for creative thinking in the post-lockdown era of social distancing.

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“We took inspiration from other venues doing all sorts of different things,” said Hutchinson. “Possibly the glasshouse restaurant in Amsterdam was one that struck us when Europe was first emerging from lockdown and restaurants were trying to attract diners back we saw it and thought we could perhaps recreate something similar at the stadium because of all the space that stadia naturally have.

“We definitely hope to repeat it as so many people had such a great time and it is a unique space. Naturally the pitch side area is exposed to the elements so it’s always going to be more of a summer event plus of course we are home to Bristol City and Bristol Bears so our opportunity to fit these experiences in around their sporting calendars can be challenging!

“That said, it is great to have the stadium back in operation – albeit us having to think differently about the events we can put on.”

Image: Ashton Gate Stadium