Design & Development

#TDS23: New venues in focus during two days of debate and discussion

(from l-r) TheStadiumBusiness co-founder Ian Nuttall is joined by Gené Willis (Operations Director, Bath Rugby Club), Ursula Friedmann (Head of New Stadium Dept, Hertha BSC) and Ben Veenbrink (Founder, The Stadium Consultancy) at our 11th annual Design & Development Summit

Featured image credit: Paul Heyes

(from l-r) TheStadiumBusiness co-founder Ian Nuttall is joined by Gené Willis (Operations Director, Bath Rugby Club), Ursula Friedmann (Head of New Stadium Dept, Hertha BSC) and Ben Veenbrink (Founder, The Stadium Consultancy) at our 11th annual Design & Development Summit

Featured image credit: Paul Heyes

Representatives from Premier League and Bundesliga clubs, major venues and leading suppliers were among the guest speakers and panellists during a strong programme at this year’s TheStadiumBusiness’ Design & Development Summit.

Executives from Liverpool FC, Nokia Arena, NEC Group and The Football Association gave their insights during two days of discussion and debate at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester. Sessions also featured leaders from international organisations such as Buro Happold, Forward Associates, KSS, Populous and PMY and WJHW.

Navigating complexities in stadium development

The Summit programme began with a panel session focussed on navigating the complexities of matters such as cost management, construction timelines and community relations. Liverpool FC’s director – capital projects, Kieron Bacon, gave an update on the progress of work on the club’s Anfield Road End and shared insights from his career in project delivery across other sectors. NEC Group commercial director Andy Price and Edgbaston COO Craig Flindall also discussed progress on the major projects they are currently undertaking.

Liverpool FC’s Kieron Bacon (right) in opening panel

“Risk management is enormous in projects. Risks are not just a list but should be an action plan that needs to be managed,” Bacon said.

Later in the morning, WJHW – a PMY Company, took to the stage and announced its entry into the UK & European markets. “Buckle up – we expect a very exciting time for the market,” said group CEO Paul Yeomans.

KSS director Andy Simons explored the impact AI is already having on design. A recent survey suggested more than 40% of architect studios are already utilising AI – Simons reckons the true figure to be more than 90%!

Bridging a £2m funding gap

Lancs Cricket’s Angela Hodson and Daniel Gidney

An enlightening case study was provided by the home venue as Lancashire Cricket CEO Daniel Gidney and sales director Angela Hodson took us through the process that recently culminated in the completion of the expanded Hilton Garden Inn at Emirates Old Trafford. This was no mean feat as there had been a £2m funding gap even after a successful cost-saving audit that found more than £3m in value generation. Hodson was tasked with arranging and finalising commercial deals that would pay for the expansion and secure the venue’s future.

Day one concluded with an inside view of progress at Premier League club Fulham’s new Riverside Stand. Fulham COO Darren Preston was among those discussing the project alongside contractors and partners. The five panellists and moderator Roy Westwood, CEO of Forward Associates, pulled no punches in their appraisal of how the project had progressed – from what has gone well to what might have been done differently.

Preston revealed that the London-based club has consciously removed ‘football experts’ from some important meetings to ensure new thinking and fresh ideas. Legends’ Martin Jennings said the Riverside “will be the best stand at any stadium in Europe.”

Venue project founds its own construction company

YTL Arena in Bristol came under the spotlight during the opening session of day two in Manchester. CEO Andrew Billingham gave us the latest on the huge campus that will feature not just a major indoor entertainment venue but also a conference and exhibition centre and hundreds of residential properties at the historic site where the Concorde fleet was built.

In order to navigate the challenges of securing contractors in the current climate, YTL is in the process of founding its own construction company. “We will get the project completed at the best quality for the best price,” Billingham said.

Technology again came into focus in sessions looking at project planning with Buro Happold, digital screens with WJHW and digiLED, and sustainability with seating manufacturer Forum by Nowy Styl. The latter recently turned 32 tonnes of waste destined for landfill into 40,000 new seats for Eintracht Frankfurt’s stadium.

The FA’s Hannah Buckley explored the future of venue development to meet the rising demands of women’s sport

The English Football Association’s Hannah Buckley gave an update on women’s sport, focusing in particular on the considerations that may be required to develop venues which are primarily for female athletes and spectators. “Be bold, and don’t be afraid to look to the future because expectations are changing,” she said.

The final session of the two days looked at the importance of putting operational necessities at the heart of design. Bath Rugby’s Gené Willis, Ursula Friedmann of Hertha Berlin and The Stadium Consultancy’s Ben Veenbrink each had horror stories about what can go wrong when too much attention is paid to “pretty renderings rather than what happens when the diggers leave and the patrons come”.

In the era of the 365-day stadium, designers must also plan for the different requirements of both matchdays and busy non-matchdays.

We’ll be sharing more insights and ideas from this year’s Design & Development Summit 2023 over the coming weeks. In the meantime, we must express our thanks to the 370+ delegates who travelled from across the world for our 11th edition – representing over 50 new stadium, arena and entertainment venue projects, with all the leading architects and design firms in attendance.

TheStadiumBusiness team returns to Manchester for our 12th Design & Development Summit and Awards on 3-4 December 2024. Head over to the Summit’s dedicated web site for further details – and Super Earlybird registration offer