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Innovations in Stadium Design That Elevate the Fan Experience

Some Brighton fans still go on about the famous Goldstone Ground, the previous home of our Seagulls, harking back to the ‘good old days’. Grounds like Highbury, Old Trafford, Anfield, and our own Goldstone Ground will always live in our collective football memory. Who can forget the moments of footballing brilliance, the legendary matches, too many to count.

We all appreciate the history tied to our former home, but viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses can prevent us from seeing the obvious truth: modern grounds offer a far improved stadium experience overall. Yes, they may not have the historic value, yet.

Overall, however, they offer a far improved stadium experience for fans. Recent innovations have taken it to yet another level. Through a look at several modern stadiums in football (including our very own!), we’ll show you why those beautiful grounds of the past may have had their day.

Etihad Campus: More than a Stadium​

The days of going down to the pub with the lads, having a wee kickabout as practice, and then showing it on the pitch are long gone - sadly, in a way. Since the days of Arsene Wenger and the introduction of sports science, we’ve been moving towards a data-driven model to maximise results on the pitch, extend careers, and keep players healthy through proper training and preparation.

The stadium is a key component, forming part of a complete sports complex that’s designed to provide 24/7 facilities for players. With a manager as meticulous as Pep Guardiola, it’s no surprise Manchester City has a Campus, not just a ground.

Comfort and Cover​

The British are known to always talk about the weather, and it’s obvious why: it’s rubbish. We have a lot of rain, and many of our stadium memories involve getting absolutely soaked.

Modern stadiums don’t have this problem, at least for most fans. The Etihad has an ingenious design where the roof covers all spectators, including everyone in the lower tiers.

And no, it doesn’t require the roof to close completely. This allows natural light to continue shining on the pitch, which is always the best way to watch football. The pitch is also heated, so even the nastiest winter will not stop Pep’s tiki-taka from mesmerising fans.

The Amex Stadium​

Also known as the Falmer Stadium, Brighton fans have called the Amex home since 2011. It’s a multi-purpose ground, hosting Rugby matches as well as fixtures from the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022. It’s a world away from the old Goldstone Ground, and a world away from what we had at Withdean Stadium. Our seats are padded, even!

Goodbye, Italia 90​

First, there’s the removal of the athletics track, which is a huge improvement. Many fans have fond memories of the athletic tracks, as they just ooze football history, particularly English fans who witnessed the fantasy of Italia 90. For that tournament, Italian clubs built multi-purpose grounds that are now largely not fit for purpose, with most desperately trying to move to modern digs.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium: Home of the Jags?​

The new ground that replaced White Hart Lane is the very definition of multi-purpose. It’s now not just the home of the Spurs, but also of the NFL team the Jaguars (well, at least once every season for the NFL London Games).

For some, it’s just a little too much. When does a football stadium lose its soul and become something else entirely? That question can probably be answered here. It’s a marmite thing, you either love it or hate it.

60+ Food and Drink Outlets​

Footie food options used to be Bovril and/or a lukewarm burger. At Tottenham Hotspur, it almost feels like fine dining. You get street food-style eats, whether you’re in the mood for tacos, hot dogs or. anything in between. And if you’re vegan, you’ll be catered for.

The drinks at half-time are something to behold. The beers are craft, with The Goal Line looking like a trendy London brewery. It’s Europe’s longest bar and shows how football clubs are looking to provide a full experience, from entertainment to food and drink.

Tours and The Dare Skywalk​

Stadium tours are pretty standard fare these days, but at Tottenham, it’s unique. You can go to the very top of the stadium, 36.8 metres above the pitch, offering an excellent view of London (and the ground below!).

It shows how clubs are thinking outside the box to offer fans a higher-level experience. You can either view it as providing something better and more diverse, or just finding a new way of squeezing an extra quid out of fans!

It’s All About the Fans​

The Qatar grounds built for the 2022 World Cup looked like something out of a sci-fi film. They are spectacular, offering everything for a modern tournament. They even featured air conditioning.

But today, they say that “no one cares about Qatar anymore”. No fans, no matches, nothing. That gives some food for thought, and a valuable lesson:

No matter how fancy stadiums get, ultimately, it’s all about the fans. We make the noise, the atmosphere, what makes the Premier League the most popular (and valuable!) in the world. It’s why a plucky, small club from Brighton captures the imagination of fans all over. Plush chairs with padding or not, rain or shine, Premier League or Sunday League, we’ll be there for the Seagulls.

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