On Wednesday 27th February the New Stadium focus group on Atmosphere and Locations took place.
Representatives from the club started with an introduction explain the club and Mathew Benham’s view on the atmosphere. Emphasising on the fact that we have an owner who is a fan and he has strong views on this, he wants to see a full ground with noise. He would like a non-sanitized experience (no drums/clappers etc)..
The design of the stadium is such as to promote acoustics rather than dampen it, It is constructed of a material that is less insulating and more reverberating. Empty seats kill atmosphere, so it is important that the stadium is full and loud. We do not want this to be like West Ham or Arsenal.
The group commented on the good work carried out by the West Stand Alliance handing out postcards before the Hull City map. This demonstrated a good plan for allocating people into areas of the ground depending on preference for singing/standing etc. It was also asked about the possibility of being able to map people directly into a new seats automatically, however it was explained that although this is possible for some areas (ie Ealing Road = West Stand), it was not possible for everyone/everywhere.
The importance therefore that fans are able to easily understand the different locations and have good information available so they can choose the correct place was then discussed. It was also reiterated the importance for people to be able to change seats, if they wish to move after purchasing.
The representative from the blind scheme asked where the blind supporters would be located, as they are currently in Braemar Road. Could there also be an opportunity to provide a support for blind away fans as well?
There was some discussion about purchasing eligibility and pricing, timescales. As this overlapped with the Ticketing Focus group there was just a recap on the key milestones. (Our notes from the January ticketing Focus group can be found here).
- Pricing will be released in May
- View from seat facility will then be available shortly afterwards
- Priority windows will be announced in August
Discussions about the atmosphere in the West Stand mainly focussed on the ability to provide unreserved seating, The WSA (West Stand Alliance) carried out a survey before Christmas and unreserved was one of the most popular responses. The group unanimously agreed that this should be a course of action to explore.
It was also discussed that unreserved seating doesn’t have to be for the whole stand, it could potentially be for a block (similar to Millwall) or in a given Zone. The configuration of the west stand is such that the stand is divided into six zones, it is not expected to be possible to move between zones during the match via the concourses.
The club confirmed that unreserved is an ongoing conversation, the key is the capacity implications and also from a ticketing perspective, both logistically and also having fewer tickets available to sell. They did agree that unreserved seating can be effective in creating a good atmosphere but there is a lot to do and to consider, for example more stewarding and/or security would be required.
The capacity would have to be reduced our capacity to be able to implement this, it is expected this to be around 90% of capacity, however the club could carry out a risk assessment and then discuss with the Local SAG (Safety Advisory Group) and the SGSA (Sports Grounds Safety Authority) to see if this is possible.
With regards Safe Standing, the seats that have been ordered are the same that Tottenham are fitting at their new stadium. They will be installed without a rail at first however the rail can be added later with minimum disruption. These are different to Rail Seats which are currently in use at Celtic.
Where possible the same stewards will be deployed to the same place each week so they are able to familiarise with the regular attendees and also their habits.
The need for unwritten rules and clear understanding about groups of people who want to stand was reiterated by the group. We need to think about how we communicate this to other fans, groups like the West Stand Alliance have started to get the word out.
With regards to flags and banners, existing flags and banners should be able to be moved from Griffin Park and will go on the translucent wall at the back of the West Stand (see pic below).
Other topics that were discussed were as follows:
Griffin Park is visited regularly by football tourists, mainly from Europe who come to experience the unique environment (Pubs, fans, the ground, atmosphere) It is important that is still that attraction in the new ground.
If we are going to fill the ground (particularly if in the Premier League), then how can that people will have somewhere to move to when they outgrow the family area.
The size of the roofs are directly in line with the front of the stand, therefore it is possible that people in the front three/four rows may get wet if there is wind and rain.
The multi-coloured seats in the ground have already been ordered and it is now not possible to change this, the configuration is two reds, green, yellow and white. The main reason for this is for the stadium to appear full when on TV. The Gabba Cricket ground in Brisbane was stated as having a similar configuration. Please see our statement here on this issue.
Next meeting is expected to be in the next three to four months