Alternative Uses of Sports Grounds

The Front Cover of the Alternative Uses of Sports Grounds Publication

Alternative Uses of Sports Grounds is the latest guidance from the SGSA, designed to support sports ground management in planning alternative events at their ground. This new guidance is the fifth in the series of Sports Grounds and Stadia Guides and builds upon the broad advice in the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide).

The music industry is evolving, consumers are increasingly accessing music online and much of it for free. As record sales continue to decline, promoters are looking to live performances for income generation and are using concerts to help promote record sales.

The popularity of using sports grounds for events is on the rise. Both the event promoters and the grounds themselves are looking to utilise the facilities to maximise revenue opportunities. The type of sports grounds holding events is varied with horseracing tracks, cricket grounds and stadia all being used to host concerts each summer.

The Event Safety Guide, HSG 195, is an HSE publication known as the Purple Guide and has recently been updated. Whilst it is particularly useful for planning concerts in greenfield sites it does not address some of the key challenges for events held within a sports ground.

Alternative Uses has been written specifically to meet the needs of the sports grounds industry to help enable effective planning and management of an alternative spectator event.

Particular attention has been given to live music events, as these are often complex and extravagant productions that can introduce specific additional risks and hazards to the sports ground.

The guide addresses the essential elements needed to plan for a successful and safe event. It covers legislation, the roles and responsibilities of people and agencies involved in the project, event and venue design and overlay, use of the field of play (pitch or sports activity surface) as viewing accommodation, existing spectator accommodation and the development of an event specific operations manual to support the safety management plans for the sports ground.

Key factors for consideration when hosting an alternative event at a sports ground;

  • The site plan - take account of the additional equipment and resources needed to support the activities or event.
  • Calculating the safe number of people who can stand on the pitch or field of play.
  • Determining the appropriate crowd densities for standing areas on the pitch or field of play.
  • Barrier layouts to be determined by the age profile of the anticipated audience.
  • Preparation of the Event Operations Manual (Event Safety Plan).
  • The impact of enhanced sports presentation for some sports.
  • Integrated safety management planning.

The guide introduces a number of new terms and concepts that may be unfamiliar to sports ground management but are widely used in the events industry. Most notably the need for event planners and organisers together with ground management to consider the arrival and dispersal of spectators through “the last mile” as part of the AIMED (arrival, ingress, movement, egress, dispersal) model of crowd management. The “last-mile” concept was successfully used during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is now widely regarded as an essential part of the event planning process.

Alternative Uses of Sports Grounds is designed to be used by a competent person with experience of spectator safety and read in conjunction with the Green Guide and Safety Management.

The Alternative Uses guide like all the other SGSA Sports Grounds and Stadia publications, expands upon the strategic and high level guidance set out within the Green Guide and Safety Management.

Alternative Uses of Sports Grounds is at the printers and can be pre-ordered for £30 plus £3 postage and packaging within the UK, £7.50 postage overseas from the SGSA website