Times are changing in the world of corporate hospitality. The traditional corporate box at a stadium or arena is giving way to more casual dining experiences.
Shared spaces are the theme. This seems to be a global phenomenon and it’s as true in the US as it is Europe. New baseball parks in the US are increasingly being designed with communal areas for fans to gather during games. In UK stadia, traditional boxes offering sit-down three-course meals are losing popularity. Open spaces with chef’s tables and small plate offerings are on-trend.
North London rivalry
When Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opened its doors at the end of last season, there were more open dining areas and less corporate boxes on offer than in the past. Now North London rival Arsenal Football Club has continued to follow this trend with the opening of new hospitality spaces at Emirates Stadium for the current football season.
Emirates Stadium has been extended over the last two summers to increase its capacity to 60,600 with an additional row of seating at Club Level. The 780 extra seats were constructed in the 2018 and 2019 close season, with the project completed on time this summer. To cater for this increase, large open areas, including Highbury Restaurant and the Champions Bar, were introduced.
This summer the last two areas to be updated on Club Level have also been completed on time – Highbury Restaurant and Champions Bar. Celebrating Arsenal’s original north London home at Arsenal Stadium – affectionately known as Highbury – Highbury Restaurant has been redeveloped from a seasonal dining space offering an a la carte menu to a lively and informal street food market with burgers, burritos, Asian fusion and macaroni cheese on offer. Highbury measures 1410m2 with a capacity of 505 seated.
Tom McCann, Arsenal’s Premium and Venue Experience Director, said: “There’s been a shift away from more formal dining and corporate boxes. People want more informal, shared spaces where they can come whenever they want.”
Arsenal also introduced a new members’ club. The private members’ club was constructed at the expense of 14 executive boxes which were converted into open areas. The space, which measures 700m2 with a capacity of 217 seated, has panoramic views of the pitch and showcases locally sourced seasonal produce along with fine wines, champagnes and soft drinks. To accommodate the Avenell club, a new structural mezzanine floor was built over the top of the Emirates Lounge, something which has never been done before in the stadium.
Venues need to adapt to survive and it will be interesting to see how other stadia choose to keep up with the changing times.