One of the most historic and iconic sporting venues in the world, Wembley Stadium is 100 years old this year.
And although the stadium was redeveloped and rebuilt just over 15 years ago, the original stadium known as the Empire Stadium, was built in 1923 to host the British Empire Exhibition. Back then it was used for both athletic events and football matches and had a capacity of 125,000!
Over the last 100 years, there have been many innovations in stadiums, both in terms of architecture and design, as well as technology and fan experiences. So to mark the anniversary we thought we’d take a look at some of the upgrades that Wembley and stadia around the world have undergone during that time.
The comfort and safety of fans has been something that has become more of a focus for stadium operators over the years, and has come a long way since the days of wooden benches and terraces. With more spacious and ergonomic designs and better sight lines seating has become a key part of the fan experience. And with the advent of screens and interactive displays, USB charging ports and built in speakers the humble seat has become seriously hi-tech.
Newer stadiums, including Wembley, have been built with sustainability in mind, featuring energy-efficient lighting and heating systems, renewable energy such as solar panels and wind turbines, waste reduction measures, as well as a rainwater harvesting system to conserve water and help reduce environmental impact. Over the years there has also been an increasing emphasis on eco design in the construction of new stadiums using sustainable building materials.
As the technology has improved and installation costs reduced, retractable roofs have become more widespread providing stadiums with greater flexibility and the ability to host a wider range of events. Stadia including the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam have roofs that can completely close and even Wembley Stadium has a partial retractable roof.
The ability to open and close the roof in stadiums has provided fans with the ability to enjoy games in all types of weather, during rain or extreme heat, and can make the fan experience more enjoyable by controlling temperatures. Plus operators can help reduce maintenance costs and weather related damage.
Audio Visual Systems
The new Wembley Stadium is equipped with the latest technology, including high-definition video displays, state-of-the-art sound systems, and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the stadium. The integration of technology into stadiums has revolutionised the fan experience, with everything from mobile apps to augmented reality experiences being used to enhance the overall experience of attending a game.
Advances in audio visual technology have led to the development of more sophisticated sound systems in stadiums, providing fans with a clearer and more immersive audio experience. And the advent of large, high-definition video displays has transformed the way fans experience live sporting events. These displays are used to show replays, scores, and other important information.
Enhanced F&B and Hospitality Experiences
The emphasis and quality of food and beverage options has dramatically improved over the years and have become an integral part of the fan experience, helping stadiums attract and retain fans, as well as generate additional revenue. The range of eating, drinking and hospitality options at stadiums such as Wembley is considerable with most stadiums now offering premium and VIP options, including private boxes and executive lounges. Some stadiums also use technology to enhance the fan experience, such as mobile ordering, in-seat delivery, and digital menus.
Smart Stadiums and Internet of Things (IoT)
The use cases and benefits of IoT are significant ranging from helping to create better in stadium experiences by engaging and connecting better with fans, helping visitors to find their way more easily, monitoring and recording facility usage, identifying any malfunctions and equipment breakdowns as they happen, monitoring energy usage, tracking and managing visitor flows and understanding visitor behaviour.
Indoor positioning technology and beacons can also be used to provide visitors with real-time information about their location, as well as to help them navigate the arena. This can be especially useful for visitors who are unfamiliar with the arena layout or for those with disabilities and can assist with security and crowd management.
Safety and Security
Over the years stadium operators have implemented a number of measures to improve safety and security for visitors and fans to mitigate potential incidents, ensuring fans can enjoy their experience in a safe and secure environment. This includes the use of modern security systems, CCTV and surveillance systems, access controls, digital ticketing, facial recognition technology and body scanners, as well as improved emergency planning, evacuation procedures and crowd management systems.
Venue Management Software
Many stadium operators have invested in technology platforms and software to help them automate existing processes to streamline their operation to drive efficiencies. Such platforms aim to ease the pain points, solve the issues and overcome the challenges that venue operators face on a daily basis to help deliver a more effective and efficient operation.
VenuePro is one such global technology platform that simplifies the management and operation of venues and events. It’s made up of 21 distinct modules which together create a powerful end-to-end platform. But clients can also select individual modules that are relevant to their operation, to create a tailored solution that fits their specific requirements.
The last 100 years have seen dramatic changes and have transformed Wembley Stadium into one of the most modern and technologically advanced stadiums in the world, providing fans with an improved experience and making it one of the most recognisable sporting venues.
As innovations develop and the costs of technology become more affordable and accessible for venues of all sizes they can provide visitors with better and more immersive experiences, improve fan engagement and provide new opportunities for monetisation.