The first major difference is that in most cricket matches (Twenty20 games excluded) are longer and have natural break periods (bowling change of ends, fall of a wicket etc) and often 45 minutes for lunch. Even the bish-bash of the Twenty20 games has some of these breaks. This takes away the crowd rush and pressure on ancillary facilities (particularly toilets) in the 15 minute half time break for football and rugby. Equally because of the length of the game, spectator arrival is more relaxed and casual, although this has a different effect on movement around the stadium which we explain later.
The second major difference is viewing time. A Twenty20 game lasts for around three hours which is the shortest format, but normally a day’s cricket is 6-7 hours. The consequence of this is that seats and seat spacing (including terrace goings) are more generous. There is no necessity for crowd segregation either, which has a significant effect on spectator movement (although the SWALEC has been designed to accommodate spectator segregation). Get these wrong, and you have the unpleasant consequences such as those that have troubled the new London City stadium (previously the Olympic Stadium) as West Ham’s new ground has seen sadly evidenced in its early use.
The drama of arrival is an important part of designed movement flows. It is generally considered that to arrive at an upper level and then migrate downwards, reveals the pitch or the sporting theatre in a way in which enhances that arrival experience. Unfortunately, the budgets at both the SWALEC and Ice Arena Wales (IAW) allowed this movement pattern – there was no natural topography that facilitated this particular sequence, even though the IAW was conceived as having a first floor arrival, this was sadly “value engineered” out.
However, within the two main stands at the SWALEC, this arrival sequence was manufactured by the use of vomitories. These stair devices lead you up from the ground floor concourse from where the oval is still hidden. The flight takes you up half a level at which point you cross the threshold from the enclosed space of the concourse to the open bowl of the oval. This transition is a key aspect of that sense of arrival – that sense of theatre.
There is an ebb and flow between when the crowd inspires the players and when the players inspire the crowd. This is facilitated by several things – acoustic properties are important, but good sight lines and an unobstructed view of the action, combined with a terraced section that provides those good sight lines but with physical intimacy to the playing area, are perhaps even more significant. Here, the Green Guide again provides useful design criteria for establishing a good spectator experience. The measurement is called the ‘C’ value and is calculated by using the diagram shown.
In both the SWALEC and IAW, they enjoy an excellent ‘C’ value and even in the case of the IAW, where because of the crash boards around the ice, proximity to the action and sightlines are exemplary. The pragmatics of people flow within the stadium fabric can be assessed on a simple level against the following design criteria (again, as defined within the Green Guide);-
- Entry capacity – determined by the number of persons capable of entering the ground in 1 hour – 660 people per turnstile per hour
- 10% of the ground can be “unreserved seats”
- Stair widths – 1.2 – 1.8m (1.2 preferred)
- Concourse capacity – 20 persons per 10 sq m
- Reservoir exit – 40 persons per 10sqm
- Stepped exit – 66 persons per minute per metre (width)
- Flat exist – 82 persons per minute per metre (width)
- 95% of the stadium must have unobstructed views
- The stadium must be able to be evacuated to the safe zone within 8 minutes
The playing area can be a designated safe zone but only on a short temporary basis. Even given the above, the way in which any stadium or arena operates in terms of movement requires careful consideration of both the pragmatic and the poetic. It must consider the arrival sequence that starts long before turnstiles, the way in which the players enter the field of play, the interaction between the crowd and the players – all are participants in the theatre and the performance. The IAW has been well received by the fans of the Cardiff Devils as well as visiting supporters. The SWALEC Stadium was voted in the top three sporting venues in the UK by both the public and industry experts immediately after the first Ashes Test, alongside Wimbledon and the O2 Arena