Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Varying the capacity of stadiums

Posted by John Beech on February 9, 2010

Last week I was at the FH Kufstein University of the Applied Sciences Winter School in Austria, and, among a number of very interesting presentations from both academics and practitioners, was one given by Rainer Quenzer, Managing Director of Nüssli International AG, a Swiss company which specialises in building temporary and semi-permanent  modular stadiums (see the Nüssli International website).  I must admit that I had little idea how sophisticated this branch of the construction industry had become, with modular designs that can be very quickly assembled and dismantled.

My thoughts turned to the London 2012 stadium, which is designed so that its capacity can be reduced once the Games are over, and which Karen Brady is eyeing for West Ham.

I was also reminded of the clubs who have become embroiled with unrealistically high capacity stadiums, the most obvious example being the white elephant at Darlington.  Currently Southend United, Plymouth Argyle and Worcester City are working on designs for new stadiums which, at least to my mind, the intended capacity is arguably high, Plymouth being particularly so, with a planned capacity of 40,000 (1). I think there are more appropriate adjectives to describe this particular project than ‘audacious’ and ‘sensational’, which the Western Morning News chooses.

Given the sophistication of designs from, for example, Nüssli International, I wonder to what extent this option for a new stadium has been considered in English football.  I can’t think of an example where this approach has been seriously considered by an English club (corrections please if you can think of one), and, given the increasing criteria for stadiums and their seating capacity that are needed as a club climbs through the middle levels of the pyramid (which are no longer necessary or supportable financially if the move upwards turns into reverse through relegation), it strikes me that this is perhaps short-sighted.

A key issue is, of course, costs (stands can be bought or rented by the way).  Does any reader have any knowledge on whether this approach stacks up financially?


4 Responses to “Varying the capacity of stadiums”

  1. Dave Boyle said

    I was at a seminar on stadium construction a few weeks’ ago and up to about 10K, the cost is around 1K per seat. The next band covers you from then to 40K, and above 45 or thereabouts, the price rockets. Essentially, the crucial issue is the number of tiers, and there didn’t appear to be any real economies of scale.

    • John Beech said

      Many thanks Dave. I’m assuming you are referring to the costs of a permanent structure.
      The very limited data I have on cost per seat is broadly in line with this, but shows considerable variation.
      Do you know if anyone has investigated or even tried the modular semi-permanent approach, and what the costs of such structures is?

  2. Great post, would you mind if I linked to your fine words from a handful of UK focused blogs I run?

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