For centuries stadiums have been used for all manner of public entertainment. A perfect example is the Colosseum – the famous amphitheatre in Rome where combats between gladiators and wild animals were once the order of the day. The round architectural shape with the field in its center has been a constant. Fortunately, the type of entertainment has changed significantly over the centuries.
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In recent decades the stadium concept has undergone another major transformation. While 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 regarded as a dynamic building which could be utilized for a growing diversity of purposes. Thus today’s stadium might be an office environment and an events venue, where numbers reaching tens of thousands of visitors a day, many days a week, are not an exception.
This demands flexibility from the supporting organization which needs to keep the stadium use on-track daily. In the Netherlands we have had years of experience in supporting 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, and is intended to grow to become 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 period when stadiums only hosted sporting competitions is definitely past.