Play the game: EIN sporting venues feature

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1. Introduction

The popularity of using sporting venues as event locations has boomed in the last few years. With many new stadia having been constructed – and existing venues undergoing modernisations and refurbishments – the options available to event organisers is huge.

The attraction of using a sporting venue for an event is often down to romance associated with the location, whether it be a famous football stadium or an iconic cricket ground. However, with sporting venues themselves identifying the rich business potential of hosting events, even the most traditional of locations is still likely to offer all the requirements of the modern event organisers.

In our latest sporting venues feature, Event Industry News looks at a selection of great locations that combine iconic sporting names with great event opportunities.

2. Emirates Old Trafford: All your business needs in one venue

Emirates Old Trafford is now proud to boast one of the most all-inclusive venues for business in Manchester, thanks to the completion of a £60m redevelopment project.

The stadium, which was once purely home to Lancashire Cricket Club, now also offers a flexible, multi-purpose events venue, Hilton Garden Inn hotel and Caffè Nero all on site.

Business guests who come to benefit from over 3,600m2 of intelligent spaces can discover a treasure trove of features, enabling them to tick all their event goals without ever stepping outside.

So, what exactly can you expect to find at the complete Emirates Old Trafford?

Guests are greeted with an abundance of intelligent business and event spaces on arrival. Catering from ten to 2,000 people, from small meetings to large exhibitions and conferences, our impressive facilities are fully supported by dedicated in-house services, such as duty managers, IT support and experienced event planners.

Emirates Old Trafford’s flagship event space is ‘The Point’ – offering a seven-metre ceiling with floor to ceiling windows and panoramic views of Lancashire’s world-famous cricket pitch. The blank canvas is designed to inspire creativity and, with a capacity of up to 1,200, the options are endless.

Highly customisable, The Point can also be divided into three separate spaces, thanks to retractable walls – ideal for creating intelligent breakout rooms or smaller functions.

Just next door is the award-winning Pavilion, which combines the finest traditions of cricket with modern, high-quality hospitality. The building, which originally dates back to 1895 before undergoing a £7.5m redevelopment in 2013, can accommodate up to 700 guests thanks to eight striking suites and nine executive boxes.

Uniquely, both multi-purpose sections of the stadium are connected via an internal footbridge, meaning delegates never need to step outside to access their breakout sessions or meetings. This walkway also provides direct access to Emirates Old Trafford’s Hilton Garden Inn.

The four-star hotel, which opened in September 2017, boasts 150 bedrooms across five floors, with 85 overlooking the Lancashire cricket pitch, which can be converted to hospitality boxes on match days and for concerts.

For both hotel guests and one-day delegates, there’s always a delicious dinner on site at the Garden Grille and Bar. Why not relax with your favourite cocktail or cold craft beer in the Lounge? Before enjoying one of our Hilton Garden Inn favourites such as our pan-roasted chorizo chicken Ballantine or try the classic Mobley burger which is served on a toasted brioche bun, all lovingly prepared by our Executive Chef and his team.

Delegates who do stay at the Hilton Garden Inn can enjoy the perfect start to a busy day with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast, prepared by our professional kitchen staff.

The hotel also includes direct access to a vibrant Caffè Nero. The coffee house stands at 170m2, and customers can benefit from plenty of seating to enjoy the traditional Italian espresso-based drinks and a range of food, including pastries baked fresh in store, delicious lunch options and indulgent cakes.

The theme of quality refreshments is one which spreads throughout the venue, with the addition of Aroma coffee – an Italian brand, part of The Nero Roasting Company. Aroma coffee is 100% Arabica and Rainforest Alliance Certified, sourced from the best growing regions in South and Central America by a team of experts.

The coffee is served across all meetings, conferences and events, as well as through the Hilton Garden Inn and cricket hospitality areas.

Cricket hospitality also makes Emirates Old Trafford a completely all-inclusive venue for business. The stadium has a distinguished tradition of hosting international and domestic cricket, with unrivalled views across a range of premium packages, making it the perfect place for businesses to network and host clients.

If that wasn’t enough, Emirates Old Trafford is supported by over 700 car parking spaces and easy transport links. Located just three miles from Manchester’s centre, guests can jump on the Metrolink at Old Trafford, which can be accessed just outside the venue, and be in the city within minutes. The airport and major motorways are also only a short drive away.

So, if you think Emirates Old Trafford is just about cricket, think again!

3. Croke Park

Extraordinary awaits at Croke Park Meetings & Events in Dublin where the venue completely reimagined its key events spaces and upgraded their digital and network infrastructure to be voted Best Purpose Built Venue at the Event Industry Awards. Their award-winning in-house events team offer a powerhouse of innovative ideas to take events to the next level.

An iconic Dublin landmark, Croke Park is located in the heart of Dublin city, a 15-minute drive from top transatlantic hub Dublin Airport and 5 minutes from the city centre. The venue is easily accessible from the M50 and the Port Tunnel and offers 600 free parking spaces.

The re-imagination at Croke Park featured the launch of Ireland’s first high-density WiFi deployment with the network operating across the meeting and events spaces for visitors and organisers. This ultra-fast high-density Wi-Fi infrastructure can support up to 40,000 devices and was a first for venues in Ireland. Connectivity developments continue apace at the venue with these capacities set to more than double over the coming months!

The stadium venue offers meeting and event planners a total event solution in a sustainable venue that includes catering, AV, entertainment, event tech, unique time-out activities and 4-star hotel accommodation. With 110 meeting and event spaces, the venue can cater for a board meeting for 10 or a reception for 2,000 and the campus combines more unique attractions, tour and time-out options than any other venue.

The Ericsson Skyline offers a 17 storey rooftop walkway with breathtaking views around the capital and for adrenaline junkies, the Skyline abseil takes you from the roof right down into the stadium bowl below. The campus features the GAA Museum and Stadium Tours, dressing room pep talks and healthy pursuits such as the Stadium Steps Challenge – all in a day’s work!

Croke Park is a recognised trailblazer in sustainability best practice.  It was the first stadium to obtain certification to the international Environmental Standard ISO 14001:2015 and the ISO 20121 for Sustainable Event Management Systems and has maintained 0% waste to landfill for the last four consecutive years. The venue has award-winning operations and events teams and took the Best In-house Events Team at the Event Industry Awards for two consecutive years in 2016 and 2017 and the Best Purpose Built Venue Award at the same awards in 2017.

No two events are alike at Croke Park and the flexible spaces feature over 5,000 square metres of event space including a range of meeting rooms right up to the All Star Suites. The Hogan Suite is the flagship event space accommodating up to 2,000 for a reception or 800 for a theatre-style conference. It is brimming with high tech features including motorised trussing and dramatic LED lighting with natural daylight pouring through its 6m floor to ceiling windows. Its luxury foyer overlooks the hallowed playing ground below and bespoke pieces of Irish art evoke the history of the stadium making the foyer a dramatic settling for receptions, registration, exhibitions or refreshment breaks.

In 2017 the team at Croke Park developed the Event of the Future and hosted 300 corporate, association and agency event professionals to explore the power of live events and how they are evolving. The key take outs were that while events will continue to be immersive, engaging and technology-driven, face-to-face is going nowhere and in fact, the more sophisticated our tech, the more we’ll crave the tactical reassurance of real people, real places and real time.

Catering is central to the Croke Park Meetings & Events offering and menus are designed to complement every occasion and accommodate discerning palates and the expanding range of dietary requirements. The menus feature emerging superfoods, healthy indulgences and genuine farm to fork practices. Executive chef Ruairí says “there’s one golden thread linking everything we do – the provenance of our product. It’s all sourced as locally as possible from suppliers with whom we’re on first name terms. Farm to fork may be a bit of a gastronomic cliché but it’s the aspiration and inspiration for all we do at Croke Park.”

Popular menus include their Working Lunch offering, a new concept Stadium Street Food menu and Healthy Options which include nutritional information.

4. The Kia Oval

The Kia Oval has become a hidden gem for organisers looking for the perfect spot for their conferences and events. A stone’s throw from the river and situated just outside the congestion charge zone, this venue surprises all with its proximity to the City. Benefiting from parking for up to 50 cars onsite and 4 minutes walking time from the transport hub of Vauxhall you won’t find a central London venue with such accessible transport links and free parking.

The Kia Oval boasts an incredible array of rooms in two separate stands which are less than 3 minutes’ walk from each other. Our more traditional side of the ground is our Pavilion which was completed just in time for the start of the 1898 season and even though there has been many adjustments, additions and renovations the original footprint and bones still exist to this day. This gorgeous building houses the beautiful historic, wood-panelled and chandeliered Long Room which has its own private bar attached as well as our exclusive committee room; perfect for director dinners or impressing key clients

On the opposite side of the ground is our purpose-built OCS Stand which cost £25m and was constructed in just 77 weeks (this includes the time spent demolishing the existing stands). The new stand was opened on 12th July 2005 by the Duke of Edinburgh and was completed on time and to budget – a miracle by modern construction standards. This building houses over 25 separate rooms each built to be flooded with natural daylight. Our Jardine Suite spreads over the ground floor of the building which over 1500m2 of exhibition space and vehicular access. All other rooms can be reached by two central staircases meaning each room is minutes from one another. The OCS Stand has the great advantage of having stand access and outside space for each of the rooms with 6 rooms leading out onto covered terrace areas. In fact, the entire OCS stand is topped with the magnificent Corinthian Roof Terrace with sweeping panoramic views across London.

Here at the Kia Oval we live by the ethos that the customer deserves the best and should get the best; every enquiry is treated with the same level of dedication and each event is dealt with by one event coordinator from the point of enquiry right through to the morning of your event where our experienced operational team take over. This means that the client gets the best possible experience without having to repeat their requirements; this also gives our team the opportunity to learn the event inside out; understanding the intricacies of a client’s event. Our catering and operations are in the safe and experienced hands of Compass who, being a world leader in catering, bring passion, creativity and excellence to each and every plate and have a wealth of experience in all things events. Our devotion to service and passion for events means we offer each client a bespoke experience because your event is one of a kind so your service should be too.

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.