Soccerex Business - Thinking Outside the Box

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Should clubs and venue owners look beyond the box or bowl shaped facilities that have proven most cost-effective in generating new revenues?

The extent of the impact of stadium design on revenue generation is one that is guaranteed to divide opinion among football business professionals.

While the integration of premium suites, hospitality boxes, conference and dining facilities and retail outlets are commonly factored into the design of any new stadium, greater claims for the economic power of stadium design tend to be greeted with scepticism.

Stadium cost consultants, in particular, are not shy of expressing their views on the subject. As John Dix, an independent consultant with 20 years experience in the stadia, sports and hospitality sector, recently warned: “I live in fear of one word, a little word, but one that makes me quake in my boots. That word is ‘iconic’. In the world of new sports facilities every time I see that word I know that what it usually means is ‘expensive’.”

Yet some high-profile new builds and proposed builds have eschewed the straightforward bowl or box solution to the cost-revenue equation by emphasising innovative exterior design and including new interior features to add brand partnership value into the blueprints.

The Allianz Arena in Munich, designed by Herzog and De Meuron, is in the vanguard of this change. Not only is the entire exterior of the stadium able to transform in colour according to which team is playing at home - red for the shirts of Bayern Munich, blue for those of Munich 1860, and white for the German national team - the outer shell made of transparent air cushions draws attention to the sponsor, which brands the stadium.

Inside the Allianz Arena, the design adds another tier of value to the sponsors with the ‘World of Brands’ concept on Level 3 of the stadium, where stores are operated by Medion, T-Com, Audi and Festina. T-Com’s T-Home is the shirt sponsor of Bayern Munich, while car-maker Audi and electronics retailer Medion are secondary sponsors. Watch-maker Festina is a long-term sponsor of Munich 1860.

The integration of brands into the fabric of the Allianz Arena has been an inspiration to the marketing stakeholders in the proposed new Liverpool FC stadium. In May, the club gained their third planning permission for the revised Stanley Park scheme, which has been designed by the architectural firm HKS, Inc. and is scheduled for completion in time for the season starting in August 2011.

Although there remains some doubt about the club’s ability to raise the £350m debt required to pay for the stadium, marketing director Ian Ayre, says that revenue generated by the new stadium is key to Liverpool becoming ‘the biggest club in the world’. As he explains below, this is not just about revenue from extra seats that will take the capacity up to 70,000.

Moreover, the stadium will be be recognised globally as something unique to the club. As Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry adds, “The asymmetric design sets it apart from other new stadia, as it is a clear move away from what is becoming the traditional bowl model. This new design will be unmistakably ‘Liverpool’ and instantly recognisable as our stadium.”

In other words…‘iconic’.

So how to untangle the ever-changing relationship between design and revenue? Soccerex Business sought the views of two at the sharp end of the business. Liverpool’s Ian Ayre, who joined the club last year and Ulrik Ruhnau, Senior Director Rights Development, Sportfive GmbH & Co. KG. Among Sportfive’s wide-ranging portfolio, the agency recently teamed up with consulting firm Deloitte to provide consulting to the City of Wroclaw on the construction of its Euro 2012 stadium. Sportfive is also a consultant for the Euro 2012 stadium in Poznan.

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Article first appeared in issue 1 of Soccerex Business. For all queries relating to Soccerex Business please contact: email

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ISG is the market leader in forecasting and maximising revenue from seating in stadia and arenas, and enhancing the spectator experience. ISG's uniquely experienced senior executive team has been responsible for generating more than $2 billion in revenues at more than 15 projects.