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Monetize, commercialize and “Americanize” the stadiums of Europe? I say “Be careful what you ask for”

Jan 10, 2013, 9:02 AM EDT

Emirates Stadium

In terms of transfer news happening overnight – It’s not really “overnight” in Europe, see? So things, you know, “happen” – there were no big haymakers, only a few little jabs here and there.

In terms of potential U.S. players moving overseas, there wasn’t even that.

But one prominent newspaper took the opportunity to evaluate how a significant element of American sports definitely is being transferred overseas, if only bit by bit.

It’s the American ability to monetize a facility.

Personally, I do enjoy the older world European model, where a stadium is actually a place to play an athletic event, and for fans to actually get lost in an athletic event (rather than getting lost in a gooey bowl of nachos). You might get a beer or a hot chocolate before kickoff, and if you’re fast, you can sneak in a bonus refreshment at halftime. If you’re fast – because those lines inside the cramped concourses get long in a super-big hurry.

I don’t need to stock up on chicken tenders and all beef doggers or purchase bags full of memories. And I certainly don’t need to be up-sold the “premium experience,” whatever that is. (Jeezey-Pete, it’s a soccer game, not a Caribbean Cruise!)

But some people clearly like it and are willing to pay for it. Hence, the massive American football grounds with massive opportunity to throw down as much green as you darn well please. We enjoy our excess in American, and this is the reality of modern sports.

Now, the author of this piece in the Guardian, who works for a design firm that specializes in facility research, says Europeans are slowly getting better at emulating their American counterparts.

He uses Arsenal’s relatively new Emirates Stadium as an example, and says the new ground recently announced for AS Roma (you go, Michael Bradley!) will feature much of the same lucrative fancy-schmancy.

It’s not just the premium pricing where Americans excel, it’s also the overall commercialization aspect. Over here, of course, we probably are thinking, “Be careful what you ask for.”

Where I live, the big colossus of a football stadium includes a store just to sell freakin’ women’s panties. Panties! At a football stadium.

Any-who … here’s what Joshua Boren has to say about it in this morning’s Guardian (linked above).

Given the overall success of the business model it was only a matter of time before it was imported and replicated by overseas clubs seeking new – and renovated – stadiums. The most notable and easily recognizable example is that of Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal and opened in 2006.

Emirates, boasting American influence and design elements, became the model for UEFA and other European clubs seeking ways to maximize revenue and better the overall fan experience. Emirates has been hailed for its success and has highlighted another area where clubs could compete beyond the pitch in the ever-growing arms war that is football; stadium development and commercial rights.

  1. pmacd82 - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were two stadiums built to maximize the “fan experience.” Yankee Stadium, that luxury only exists on the levels where people have money, and in both stadiums’ cases, there are areas that have poor sightlines or obstructed views, something that shouldn’t happen in a modern stadium especially when being able to watch the game should be most important. So, agreed, be careful Europe.

  2. dfstell - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I mostly miss watching with other people who are passionate fans. But….the blow of the good, old-fashioned stadiums going away is that we have much better televisions than we used to and do things like stream games on our iPhones. It’s not a true replacement, but imagine how awful it would be if we didn’t have technology making it better.

  3. archlobster - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    I have to say, with American Football at least, it is better to watch on TV, so the big American stadia argument makes more sense because, like dfstell said, we have awesome TVs now.

    But with soccer… eh. What do people expect? The wages being demanded require cold, hard cash to be paid. Supporters, fans, merchandise are all just individual pieces to a massive paycheck.

    Or you can be a league 2 team I suppose.

    This is reality, and will continue to be. Running away from it and throwing temper tantrums only serve to delay the inevitable. I hate it but I’ve accepted it as the fact that it is.

  4. dws110 - Jan 10, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Just finished the original article, and what bothers me most about it is that it accepts as a given that the future of soccer in England (and by extension, the rest of the world) is to increase the gaps between The Big Number of clubs with insane resources and the rest of the league. The article reads like the sales brochure of an instruction manual to, say, Chelsea, on how to keep up with Man City in terms of $$$ to spend, and vice versa.

    That’s the kind of thinking that drove wages/transfer fees/ticket prices into the stratosphere in the first place.

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