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Flexibility in function

Max Rich, director of sales at Audience Systems Ltd, discusses the trends emerging in stadium seating, why flexibility in design is important and how VIPs are increasingly impacting design considerations

 

What services does your company offer to the industry?
We provide a complete range of seating for stadia from GA to VVIP seats. For arenas, we also specialise in retractable and removable seating. We offer design expertise in the initial stages as well as a full project management, installation and after-sales care package.

Could you tell us an interesting fact about your company?
2012 is our 40th anniversary year – Happy Birthday to us!

What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
Seat style - a continuation of the trend away from seating as a commodity to seating as a design feature. Visual style of the seat and perception of the seat by the end user are more important than ever.

Flexibility - We are increasingly being asked to create seating areas, which could be adapted for VIP use at a later date. The use of a flexible rail-mounted design, and removable ‘add-on’ features such as onserts, armrests and cupholders are all key to achieving this.

Can you tell us about a recent success story for your company?
As part of our work at the new 13,000 seat Leeds Arena, UK, we designed and manufactured mobile retractable units, which will be some of the largest worldwide. All have been adapted and specially designed to be opened, closed and manoeuvred quickly and reliably, despite their size! As a result, venue reconfigurations will be fast, safe and more or less automated. This sort of close work with clients and specialised design is key to our success with major venues.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
The challenges we face are common to many sectors: budget pressures, timelines and demand for flexibility. These can be overcome by working with architects and general contractors closely – and early.

What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
Seats mounted on a continuous rail are now extremely popular with major venues. Seats can be placed anywhere along the rail meaning that the absolute optimal layout can be achieved, and seats can also be re-spaced if extra VIP areas are needed. There are also major advantages during installation, as legs can also be placed anywhere on the rail – helping us to easily work round services or less than perfect concrete on site. We can also install everything up to and including the rail while other trades are on site, just adding the seats later when the site is clean. The result is an installation that is slicker and quicker.

What’s your favourite stadium/sports venue and why?
Adelaide Oval. I have fond memories of going there as a boy, and it’s still a wonderful venue.

Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
Increasing multi-purpose/combined use. The work Gensler have done on Farmers Field is a good example of this – better facilities, greater spectator comfort, and therefore greater revenue generation.                                         www.audiencesystems.com

 

Audience Systems will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8-10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 3050

 

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