When developing products, our approach is very much like the airline announcement, “we’re here primarily for your safety, also for your comfort,” and never more so than in the world of stadia and grandstands, where nothing but a safety first approach would be appropriate.
With the horrors of the Hillsborough disaster and the findings of the recent inquest still so raw; the lessons learned from the tragedy, along with many incidents since occurring around the world, mean that the design and safety of stadium infrastructure has rightly been subject to immense scrutiny and debate.
Subsequent reviews, commissions and regulations have unanimously and meticulously set out to ensure that nothing like the events at Hillsborough could ever happen again. Meanwhile, football fans are increasingly demanding that clubs and regulators review the rules around spectator seating, calling for the highest possible safety standards in fulfilling large numbers of supporters’ desire to stand throughout matches.
All around the UK, fan groups are sensitively and eloquently posing questions around the issue of safe standing during sports events. It’s an interesting, and a fair question. Can we develop an approved system that allows fans to stand safely? In many ways, it’s something of an academic question: at many matches, in certain all-seater stands, large numbers of spectators routinely disregard the arrangements provided and spend more time on their feet than sitting down. But long periods of standing in seated areas can be contrary to ground regulations.
Besides, for every standing fan, there’s another visitor who wants, or needs, to sit. And while many supporters are currently choosing to stand in designated seating areas; others are forced to take to their feet in order to achieve a view of the game. Supporters are calling for designated standing areas within stadiums, giving ticket-holders a choice and clubs the opportunity to satisfy everybody. This growing trend is reflected in the latest Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, known as the Green Guide, a best practice guide that outlines specifications for safe stadia operations.
So, how to meet the regulations while allowing safe standing that is reassuringly and unambiguously safe?
Well, GL events UK, in partnership with our development partner, KH Stadium Seating, has designed a convenient and cost-effective solution: the Raptor, our safe standing stadium seat.
As with all the best designed products, the answer is simple. The raptor is a stadium rail seat that offers a ‘stand first’ solution, with comfortable seating as an option.
The all-steel, galvanised rear guardrail creates a robust barrier between rows of standing spectators and is integrated into every tip-up seat. Our safe standing design meets and supports capacity regulations, with each traditional ‘seating’ position allocating space for one standing fan. Spectators can then stand, with the option to lean against the rail of the row in front, in a nod to the old-fashioned style of terracing.
While the Raptor was originally conceived to compliment GL events UK’s range of stadium and event seats, which benefit from a deserved reputation for quality and comfort; our rail system can be retro-fitted onto any existing stadium seating product, quickly and cost-effectively transforming all-seater stands or sections into safe standing areas.
Because the Raptor rail is as easy for our stadium installation team to remove as it is to attach, we are able to offer the perfect solution for clubs looking to trial safe standing without substantial financial commitment. Our Raptor product can also be incorporated into temporary grandstands, or as part of GL events’ temporary infrastructure solution for outdoor events.
The Raptor rail system has been developed using all the skills and experience of GL events’ in-house team of design and production specialists. This means it delivers our highest, award-winning standards of quality and safety. This is incredibly important to stadia operations teams, giving them the confidence to choose the Raptor system for their venues.
Stadium managers, event organisers, and trusted events and stadia suppliers like GL events UK are incredibly sensitive to what has, at times, been a tragic past for standing audiences; but the time is right to move forward and look to new, safer measures to deliver what much of football’s live audience desires. The Raptor could be the design solution that everyone is looking for.
Chris Mansell, GL events UK Director and General Manager, Seating and Stadia
Contact us today to speak with a member of GL events UK’s seating and stadia team.