Stadiums of the future: a revolution for the fan experience in sport

Tottenhams brand-new stadium will have its own microbrewery, while the Atlanta Falcons brand-new home will feature “the worlds” firstly 360 -degree video wall what else does the future hold for sports arena?

With its own dedicated fromagerie, microbrewery and Michelin-star restaurant, it might be easy to forget you have come to watch the football when you are reclining in one of insurance premiums sofas of Tottenham Hotspurs new 750m stadium. The 61,000 -seat behemoth will feature the longest barroom in the country, heated seats with built-in USB ports, a glass-walled tunnel so “youre seeing” the players before the game and even a sky walking letting devotees to clamber over the roof of the arena.

It will be the most technically advanced stadium in “the worlds”, articulates Christopher Lee, an architect with Populous, the athletics and entertainment giant behind the design of the new-look White Hart Lane. It has to provide a reason for people to get off their sofas and leave their 50 -inch flatscreen TVs.

As home entertainment systems become ever more elaborated, permitting followers to watch the action from every conceivable angle in ultra-high-definition, the conventional football stadium is having to up its game to lure people from the solace of their residences. The promise of a tart, a pint and a good singsong in the stands simply is not enough.

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People expect more from the experience and theyre willing to pay for it, supposes Lee. While premium seat tickets to Tottenhams gargantuan silver-tongued spaceship will start at 89, membership of its exclusive H Club which comes with provision for guests to store their personal vintage wines, cognacs and alcohols in a purpose-built, temperature-controlled on-site reserve will cost 30,000 for two. Thats the price you must pay for enjoying a plate of specially sourced half-time cheese.

Besides the fancy catering, the football pitch itself has to work a lot harder, too. This is the first field of its kind designed to split into three parts and slip seamlessly under the seating stands, revealing an astroturf arena beneath for American football game, outlook at a lower level to ensure perfect vision pipelines for both modes of play. Acoustic consultants were brought on board in order to guarantee maximum amplification of crowd interference, ensuring a wall of voice will resonate from the 17,000 -seat south stand, conceived as a single tier to rival the Kop at Anfield or the Yellow Wallat Borussia Dortmunds Westfalenstadion.

So, having arrived at the apogee of transformable robotic tars, exclusive fine dining suites and perfectly tuned seating, what next for the future of stadiums?

Lee, who has worked on major sports venues around the world, tells technology is having a huge impact on how these constructs are being envisaged. Twenty years ago we throw screens into stadia, he supposes. But now we all carry a supercomputer in our pockets, so there are opportunities for layering the viewing suffer from realizing different camera angles in your bench, to tracking the heart rate, velocity and impact of players wearing smart attire on the pitch.

He mentions the next big frontier is holographic representation, describing a world-wide where musicians might be beamed on to the field from thousands of miles away. In the not-too-distant future you can imagine Real Madrid advocates in So Paulo watching the game in their stadium at the same time as the followers in Spain, he announces. Its all about coming together for the collective experience.

Tottenham Hotspurs tone will be designed to split into three parts to disclose an astroturf arena underneath for NFL plays. Photograph: Populous

It may sound far-fetched but information and communication technologies is already here. In its bid for the 2022 World Cup, Japan promised to record plays in 360 degrees with 200 HD cameras and broadcast them around the world live in 3D, letting musicians to appear in the thousands of stadiums simultaneously as holographic projections. Microphones embedded below the tone would have recorded every projectile kick and tackle whimper, adding to the sense of realism.

While Japans sci-fi nightmare lost out to the rippling vaginal vision of Qatars stadium strategies, it is American football in the US that is now contributing the direction in developing new generations venues. Committed the eye-watering sums generated from the sale of Tv rights( with deals worth $27 bn ), each crew in the National Football League is urgently trying to build bigger video screens and furnish faster in-seat wifi than the next, even if most devotees will never have the chance to experience it in person. The new $1.6 bn Atlanta Falcons stadium, currently in construction and due to open subsequently this year, will feature “the worlds” firstly 360 -degree video wall, extending for 335 m around the bowl, as well as a immense a rotating oculus roof, inspired by the wings of a falcon, made of eight 500 -ton moving pieces. At one point it was even going to include vibrating seats.

NFL has become an arms race, announces the architect John Rhodes of HOK, the firm behind the Atlanta project. It used to be about sheer size, but now everyones focused on the convergence of the physical and digital experience, increasing connectivity in the stadium to bring devotees closer to the players.

He says that parametric modelling techniques are having an effect on the geometry of the seating bowl, too, the layout generated by a whole host of interconnected parameters, from acoustics to distance from the bar and proximity to the bench. He ascertains a future where the seating bowl might be fragmented into smaller groups of 50 -1 00 people, making group suites to intensify the physical and social interaction between followers, while dronings will become a ubiquitous aspect for more than furnishing an elaborate backdrop to a Lady Gaga performance at half-time.

I dont imagine monotones will be delivering beers to your bench, as some people gues, he tells, but I can definitely interpret linear bars served by monotones running around the outside of concourse. It could have a revolutionary impact on how we think of concessions and eradicate queuing.

Others are less enamoured with the high-tech daydream. Jacques Herzog of Herzog& de Meuron, the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss designers behind several renowned stadia, from the inflatable froth of the Allianz Arena in Munich to the steel tangle of Beijing Birds Nest, to the gigantic brick cathedral of Chelseas forthcoming brand-new stadium, thinks it might all be a distraction. Everything becomes too artificial, he articulates. Its like when I watch my son playing Fifa on his console. If you have artificial lawns and roofs to keep out the rainwater and snow, you lose the physical authenticity of the moment and make it more of a virtual thing.

A computer made image of Chelseas stadium projects. Photograph: Hussain Nazrul/ Herzog and de Meu/ PA

He says his focus is always on capturing the neighbourhood specificity of the place, designing a venue that somehow responds to the fan culture of the team in question, whether thats a glowing lantern for Munich, a sharp-worded lily-white tabernacle for Bordeaux, or an archaic masonry complex of vaults and buttresses for Stamford Bridge. For every project his practise reinvents the model.

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Our Bordeaux stadium is very refined to fit with the citys elegant urban strategy, but in London this would be absurd, he tells. Evenly if we took our Stamford Bridge project to Munich it would look like Lord of the Rings. He describes his forthcoming Chelsea stadium as virtually Roman in its raw heft, the polar opposite to Tottenhams shiny UFO.

Above all, he adds, both football and architecture need to keep that feel of the real. The smell of the grass, the proximity of the players to the followers. People come to watch plays to have all of their appreciations energized thats what architecture must amplify.

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