London Stadium: Positives after the pandemic and lots to look forward to

By Graham Gilmore, chief executive of London Stadium

In a year of uncertainty, one constant has been our aim to improve the offering for visitors to our Stadium. It has been an incredibly challenging time, not just for us, but across the event landscape. However, the appetite from the consumer for something to look forward to and attend has been incredibly encouraging, with rising attendances at our venue and hugely positive ticket sales for our summer series of events in 2022.

We understand that after a year of difficulty, people still want that shared experience, whether that be music, sport or any social gathering. This helps bring a sense of purpose to all that work in our industry to ensure we give visitors the best possible experience.

Most recently, we were delighted that planning permission was given for an increase of the capacity of our venue for West Ham United matches, from 60,000 to 62,500. This may seem a small increase in a venue of our size, but it will make London Stadium the second largest football ground in London and the third largest in the Premier League — behind Tottenham (62,850) and Manchester United’s Old Trafford (74,140). Not only bragging rights for Hammers fans, but an increase in match-day trade for food and beverage outlets and a step closer to realising the full potential for the venue’s capacity at football matches.

It is no secret that the improved fortunes of the team have had a comparative effect on the match-day atmosphere, with the success of recent European nights at the Stadium bringing a new dimension to the event experience for home fans.

We unveiled the full capability of the new LED floodlights, installed during lockdown, to the first Europa League crowd in September – resulting in our most engaged posts across social media, and an overwhelmingly positive response from viewers, in the ground or through the clips shared online. These lights will be available at all events, including those in our summer schedule – which continues to grow for 2022 with world class bookings.

Looking towards next year, we added two nights of Red Hot Chili Peppers to the 2022 concert line up, with the group coming to London Stadium on Saturday 25th June and Sunday 26th June. This followed the Foo Fighters announcing a return to our venue as part of their world tour, playing two nights on Thursday 30th June and Saturday 2nd July. If anyone was at the 2018 shows they will know what special nights they were. Not forgetting our other huge show - The Hella Mega Tour - which sees Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer playing on the same bill on Friday 24th June. This concert has been postponed since 2020 but now sits brilliantly alongside the other huge acts, delivering an incredible roster so far for summer ‘22.

Less glamorous but just as important, are the significant improvements we have made for the safety of our guests while in the Stadium.  The installation of safety rails for more than 3,000 spectators in the South Stand, following consultation with the Sport Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), is a positive move to ensure a safe experience for all football spectators at the venue.

Back of house, we have completed work to upgrade our access control systems, to improve safety and security at the venue, with over 150 existing locations replaced during the install. This work was completed on time with minimal disruption to day-to-day activities, as the Stadium welcomed back visitors to a variety of events across the summer and autumn of 2021.

Our ongoing commitment to be more sustainable has seen all plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery removed from the Stadium. We have 15 water points available throughout the venue, with further locations available on the island for summer events. Our electricity is supplied from 100% renewable sources and 95% of the urinals are waterless, with reclaimed water supplying sanitation and irrigating our immediate landscape. We promote ourselves as a public transport venue, with measures in place to make it as easy as possible to plan your journey to us. From monitoring our crowds, we estimate only one in eight people (12%) travel by car to watch matches.

While the recovery to our industry is undoubtedly encouraging, an enormous amount of work continues to go into the preparation and management of events at our venue, in an ever-changing environment. We look forward with positivity towards 2022 across our multi-event calendar.

 

Kind Regards,

Graham