Posted by Liv Andersson

An athlete's perspective: Are arenas being built for the people?

My whole life, I’ve been involved in different types of sports on various levels, and the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world performing the sport I love. This has brought me to various different sports facilities in various locations, and those personal experiences are what I will be writing about here.

Whether it is a local derby or a qualification game in the Olympics, it always puts high demands on the arenas and facilities we use. Partly for the comfort of the players, officials, audience, and staff, but also for the security of everyone involved.

I cannot tell you how many arenas I’ve been to that are just not designed for the people. Why are players forced to use walkways that are not properly adapted for their footwear? Why are players sometimes expected to exit though the same doors, taking the same walkways, and possibly clashing with each other after tight games (yes, this actually happens). Or, for example, last week we had a player getting physically abused by a supporter because they had to pass by the opposing team’s supporter bench in order to get out on the arena. Why didn’t anyone realize it was a bad idea to design the space like that!?

And don’t get me started about the design for the audience. Seriously, this is important – make sure opposing supporters can be kept apart. Also, people get lost, a lot! Please make sure to have signage in appropriate places, and that you’re closing off the right streets for access. Finally (at least for this post, I could go on forever!), make sure to get the sizing of the restrooms right! When there’s an intermission in the game, people will use them, and if they don’t get back in time for the next part they will be upset, not to mention the people they inconvenience when getting back to their seats.

Oh, sweet game. If there was only a way to predict the progression of these events, to see how players, officials, supporters and staff are expected to move and behave in such situations, to get a better understanding of what people will see along their journey, and what issues and risks there might be. Oh wait, there is!

Check out our SmartMove agent-based modelling of stadium event crowd flows. By assessing, modelling and predicting how people interact and move we help designers and operators get the most from their venues at every stage of the design process