Our podcast host, James Dickson, recently filmed at the home of Crucial FX and its Origin experience. Here, he was joined by Nils Braude, the director of catering, conferences and events at Twickenham Stadium where the brand-new East Stand opened in Autumn 2018.
Twickenham is the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world and, due to the new “bolt-on”, now seats 8,500 people. Aside from hosting rugby matches, the stadium is also the venue for: music gigs, Christmas parties, corporate events, exhibitions, meetings and summer parties.
The new stand was a huge undertaking that covered five floors and took the capacity of the stadium from 4,500 to 8,500. The whole footprint and floor space of the building was extended with the addition of two new floors and the addition of 3,000 hospitality covers.
Describing the consultation process, Nils explained the stadium used a “collaborative approach” with its principal sales partners, Compass Group, RFU and Keith Prowse. They drew inspiration from similar-sized venues and researched the “rugby-goer” to create ideas that would fall in line with their budget.
Nils went on to describe the flexibility of the stadium: the majority of the days at Twickenham aren’t match-days so the new stand needed to be adaptable to ensure it can be used for other events, both professional and personal. For this reason, it was designed with “dividable” rooms – a room may be used for a seated conference for 1,000 people one day, and a food area for 100 people the next.
Progressing from the traditional round, covered tables with the usual three-course meal, Twickenham now boasts a variety of options from interactive street food to five-course Michelin star-styled taster meals. Again, this was to add to the stadium’s offering, ensuring events of all sizes and styles could be catered for.
Touching on the customer experience, Nils explained that the external areas were also developed to become much more “fan-friendly”, allow visitors’ experience to start sooner and bring people to the stadium earlier.
With the East Stand being essentially a huge extension, it was possible to shut it off from the rest of the stadium during its 18-month construction. This was “advantageous” to keeping the stadium open for business without negatively impacting other events.