Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Despite Troubled Past, Stadia Warm Up to Standing Areas

This piece from Pitch Invasion examines the history of standing areas in soccer stadia, especially in the UK, where they have been stigmatized by a crush of fans that resulted in 96 deaths in 1989. But as this piece counters, it wasn't the standing area that caused the problem, it was lax enforcement and monitoring of crowds.

Now some stadium planners are warming up to the idea of including standing areas, as many find these areas to be much more vibrant spaces -- and most people are standing at the games anyway.

With the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster approaching, it would seem to be curious timing for a return to standing to be on the national agenda again.

But that’s exactly what is happening.

The movement towards reintroducing standing at the top levels of English football is gaining momentum. A little lower in the ladder, this month it was announced that League Two’s Morecambe are set to become the first English league club to incorporate safe standing areas into their new stadium.

Perhaps more significantly, especially given their proximity to Anfield, Everton’s chief executive Keith Wyness told a parliamentary seminar his club would consider including safe standing areas at their new ground.


Meanwhile, the model of the Bundesliga — with their technologically impressive convertible standing/seating areas to meet UEFA mandates for European matches — has been much praised by advocates of standing. Schalke 04’s amazing Veltins-Arena can accommodate 61,524 spectators (standing and seated) for Bundesliga games, and 53,994 for European matches. Domestically, the North stand provides standing (capacity: 16,307) and is converted to seats for European competition (capacity: 8,600).

Safe Standing, Twenty Years On From Hillsborough
Pitch Invasion
March 22, 2009