Sporting venues are providing increasingly versatile spaces and adaptable packages for conferences and meetings. H&E North considers why they are proving to be such popular event destinations.
Hole in One
It’s no secret that top level sport is big business, so it’s only fitting that that the stadiums and courses which house such heavyweight brands, teams and athletes reflect their status with facilities fit for a king, queen or…corporate event. But what is it that gives sporting venues the edge as events venues?
From Manchester’s iconic Old Trafford and Etihad stadiums, to Liverpool’s famous Aintree Racecourse and Leeds’ Emerald Headingley Stadium, which is home to both Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos rugby, the north of England, along with Scotland and Wales, has a proud and rich sporting heritage. Whether it’s the thwack of a leather ball or the sound of an elite engine tearing around a track that’s your cup of tea, its often hard to pigeon-hole these varied venues – such is the range of options; there is a sporting space for every occasion.
With versatility in mind, Debbie Rigney, Marketing and PR Manager of Stadium Experience, which is a not-for-profit marketing collaboration of major football and rugby clubs, points out that stadia are “convenient for large scale events and exhibitions, as well as more intimate meetings, thanks to its adaptable spaces. In addition, there are boxes which can be used for smaller meetings and even include fantastic pitch views.”
The Business of Sport
As a nation that loves its sport, there is no shortage of prestigious venues, with other prominent northern cities such as Newcastle, Durham, Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham and York all possessing sporting landmarks. Venues are now as competitive off the pitch or track as the teams, riders or drivers are on it, meaning event planners can often cherry pick from an array of adrenaline fuelled flexible packages and weigh up which one best suits their needs.
Used frequently for high profile, large scale events and activities, both indoor and outdoor, which require security, safety and infrastructure for thousands of people, sporting venues are among the most equipped in the country. As Mark Onion, Marketing Manager at Totally Wicked Stadium, home to St. Helen’s rugby club, notes: “Sporting venues offer incredible versatility, size and space that many other types of venues cannot match, particularly in city areas. Extensive parking allows larger and more complex events to be accommodated and allows a smoother experience for guests and organisers alike.”
Space for events can often be at a premium in big cities but cricket grounds, football and rugby stadiums, race tracks and golf and racing courses can offer breathing space aplenty. Being built with accessibility for both home and away fans and spectators in mind, they are often easy to reach for delegates via trams, train, car or by walking from city centres, with swift links to motorways too. While, hotels and specialist conference centres are often a mere stone’s throw away, along with activities and entertainment for delegate downtime.
With built-in bars and on-site catering facilities, which often include highly rated restaurants, as well as access to top class amenities and equipment, such as PA systems and audio-visual aids, it’s possible to take care of all of your events’ needs under one roof, without hiring in outside help and arranging different suppliers. The expert and dedicated teams on hand, who are equipped to deal with everything from planning to marketing, along with slick service and trained waiting staff, can also help relieve the burdens on event organisers.
All In The Game
Although the polished hospitality offerings and exclusive suites can seem a world away from the mud on the pitch or the hoof marks in the turf, and are perhaps more akin to a luxury hotel, sporting venues can offer the best of both worlds. There is something to be said for channelling the character of the space, to imbue your event with a little more personality and impact. These are, after all, stages that have seen it all; ecstasy, agony, glory and some of the world’s most famous sporting personalities and occasions.
“Originally created to host thousands of people on matchdays, stadia now provide the perfect option for event profs searching for a unique space and welcoming hospitality,” says Tracey Chappell, National Sales Manager of Stadia and Concessions at events management company, Venuelior. “Commonly boasting a variety of facilities within each site, space is never an issue at sporting venues with plenty of capacity for any type of event, from team building activities to drinks receptions.”
Synonymous with success, from great leaders and teams to memorable achievements by athletes at the top of their game and defiant examples of groups working to be more than the sum of their parts, there are plenty of inspirational narratives to be taken from the corridors or changing rooms of your venue and applied to your own meeting.
After a hard day’s work, there are usually plenty of options for treating, or further testing your team; be it utilising the facilities or coaches on hand to indulge in a spot of sporty and competitive team building as part of your package, touring the grounds, watching a game or indulging in a day at the races – choosing a sporting venue can provide teams with all the amenities they require to knock all aspects of an event out of the park.