STADIUMS OF THE FUTURE: A REVOLUTION FOR THE FAN EXPERIENCE IN SPORT

  ©Populous

©Populous

With its own dedicated fromagerie, microbrewery and Michelin-calibre restaurant, it might be easy to forget you have come to watch the football when you are reclining in one of the premium lounges of Tottenham Hotspur’s new £750m stadium. The 61,000-seat behemoth will feature the longest bar in the country, heated seats with built-in USB ports, a glass-walled tunnel so you can see the players before the game and even a “sky walk” allowing fans to clamber over the roof of the arena.

“It will be the most technically advanced stadium in the world,” says Christopher Lee, an architect with Populous that lies behind the design of the new 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 allow fans 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 comfort of their homes. Spectators expect an experience, as the promise of a pie, a pint and a good singsong in the stands is just not enough. 

Technology is having a huge impact on how sport is experienced today and how these stadiums are being imagined. “Twenty years ago we put screens into stadiums,” Lee says. “But now we all carry a supercomputer in our pockets, so there are opportunities for layering the viewing experience." Smartphones offer the possibility to show different camera angles or to track the heart rate, speed and impact of players wearing smart clothing on the pitch. Similar to what the Formula 1 with Snapchat and the NBA with Nike are trying to achieve. 

Across the pond, the brand-new $1.6bn Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is home to Atlanta Falcons and due to open later this year, will feature the world’s first 360-degree video wall and a vast a rotating oculus roof, inspired by the wings of a falcon. John Rhodes of HOK, one of the architects behind the Atlanta project says: “It used to be about sheer size, but now everyone’s focused on the convergence of the physical and digital experience, increasing connectivity in the stadium to bring fans closer to the players.”