First use of rail seats to increase capactiy
Safe standing moved up a level in April 2020, as a rail seat installation was completed designed for a standing capacity greater than the number of seats. The small stand at Telford Athletics Club is the first anywhere in the UK to have an extra step along each row to facilitate this extra standing capacity. While the seated capacity of the stand is just 110, the extra step enables this to be significantly increased when it is used for standing. With spectators then stood on two levels along each row, the capacity goes up to 178. For the stadium industry this small stand is thus big news.
To date, all previous rail seat areas in the UK that are used for standing, i.e. those at Celtic, Kilmarnock and Shrewsbury Town, have had a ratio of standing fans to seats of 1:1. Now, utilising the extra step concept provided for in the latest edition of the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s ‘Green Guide’, the ratio in Telford is a pioneering 1.6:1, i.e. a 60% capacity increase.
When not in use, the new metal seats will be left locked upright to provide maximum protection from vandalism, which the previous conventional seats used to suffer at the often unattended venue. When events take place and spectators are present, the seats will either be unlocked and lowered for use as seating or left locked so that the stand can be used for standing. In the latter case, the seats’ minimal closed depth of just 50mm and the seating row depth of 800mm will comfortably leave the prescribed space for the required additional step.
The concept illustrated on a 760mm seating row
Increasing spectator capacity in this way is an idea that is interesting football clubs too. Everton for example, have plans for doing this at Bramley Moore Dock and Lincoln City have incorporated the idea into their stadium expansion plans.