For centuries stadiums have been used for all kinds of public entertainment. Take for instance the famous amphitheatre the Colosseum in Rome, where combats between gladiators and wild animals were once the flavour of the day. The round architectural shape with a field in its centre has always been the norm. Fortunately, the type of entertainment has changed significantly over the centuries. The stadium has been transformed from hosting ‘pools of blood’ to a ‘home for entertainment’.
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In recent decades the stadium concept has undergone another major transformation. Where at the start and in the middle of the nineteenth century stadiums were often built around the characteristic dirt track and velodrome (like the Olympic Stadium in Munich), the first multifunctional stadiums appeared at the beginning of the 1980s. The stadium was increasingly considered as a dynamic building which could be utilised for a growing diversity of purposes. Thus today’s stadium might be an office environment as well as an events venue, where numbers reaching tens of thousands of visitors a day, few days a week, are not an exception.
This demands flexibility from the supporting organisation which needs to keep the stadium use on-track daily. In the Netherlands we have had years of experience in exploiting multifunctional stadiums, such as the Amsterdam ArenA and the Gelredome in Arnhem. The Amsterdam ArenA, which wants its unique Stadium Management Concept to make it the ‘world’s leading stadium’, has recently opened the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center. The Innovation Center is focused on innovations to ‘smarten' the stadium and the city of Amsterdam. The intention here is to grow to become one day the ultimate knowledge and innovation centre in the Netherlands for smart and sustainable stadiums and cities.
To achieve this ambition, the Amsterdam ArenA Innovation Center is working closely alongside several market-leading parties on a variety of innovative solutions involving stadium development, mobility, waste, energy and connectivity. To create more transparency and flexibility within the facilities company, the stadium is integrating all the facilities partners in one IWMS platform which will facilitate the day-to-day use of the stadium premises.
The Amsterdam ArenA has taken the first steps towards the new stadium concept. This will steadily be expanded in the years to come. For my part, I am really looking forward to the future developments. The Colosseum may indeed be the birthplace of all stadiums, but the Amsterdam ArenA is proving that the time when stadiums only hosted sporting events is definitely a thing of the past.