Entering from the urban jungle that is London’s Holloway Road, my first impression of Arsenal’s new Emirates Stadium (designed by HOK Sport) was ‘wow’ – here is a true temple to the beautiful game. Seeing it took me back to the first time I visited Wembley with my father.
I should, though, declare that I have been an avid Arsenal supporter for over three decades. There is a real sense that, like good retailers, Arsenal has been truly customer-focused – or, in this case, supporter-focused. It has considered the whole customer journey and developed the entire experience of visiting the stadium, watching the game and being entertained. And it’s certainly not designed just for the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’. The restaurants and bars offer spectacular views through the glass walls externally over London, as well as internally over the playing area. These areas are light, spacious, and far removed from the normal football club polystyrene cup queues.
Yet, this is all as nothing compared to walking into the arena. The low-slung seating allows for uninterrupted views of the whole playing surface with marvellous sight lines. The roof structure is inspired – a real landmark with both great style and build quality. The stadium is sleek and elegant (like the team) and nothing like the straight lines and aggression of Old Trafford. On time and on budget – phrases the Wembley fiasco could only dream of. It’s just a shame that the new corporate graphic and logo, by 20/20, do not live up to this dream setting.
Andy Scott is managing director of Vivid Brand
Arsenal’s new Emirates Stadium is due to open in August 2006