Spotlight on West Ham United: Investing in the future of the workplace

04 August 2016. Feature.

The Premier League returns on August 13th and usually there are not many comparisons between the super wealthy premier league clubs and regular business. However, this season sees the first year of West Ham United’s 99-year lease at the London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and their relocation from the Boleyn Ground has all the makings of a traditional office relocation.

Although on a slightly different scale, West Ham’s relocation sees their club take new space just 4 miles from their original space. There were a number of factors that contributed to this move but in an effort to grow the club’s brand, finance and future prospects, this stadium move has all the traits of an office relocation. Ultimately, successful businesses and corporations thrive on similar assets and we take a look at how West Ham’s move to the London Stadium represents everything in a traditional office relocation and why companies need to take note of West Ham’s intelligent decision to take a new space in E20 to help support their club, and their prospects.

Similar to an office relocation, the move demonstrates everything that is essential to the success of a business. Irrespective of the large sums of money thrown about by football clubs, this move is an inspired business decision that reflects on the club’s goals going forward, their players and their fans and also their commitment to using a space intelligently to maximise the space and create a bright and positive future for the club.

 

Growing their brand

As West Ham United look to mount a challenge to qualify for the Champion’s League, the move from the Boleyn Ground to the London Stadium has created a promising opportunity for the Hammers. As well as there being a huge opportunity that supports their goals as a club, the financial growth that comes with the opportunity is also expected to significantly benefit the club. The capacity of the London Stadium will be 60,000 which will be the third highest stadium capacity in England. What this means in terms of growing their brand and identity is that over the season, home attendance will register at over one million.

The London Stadium provides West Ham with almost double the capacity of the Boleyn Ground (35,000) to attract more fans from the area as West Ham look to make tickets more reasonably priced in order to make the most out of ticket revenue.

One of the most intelligent parts of this relocation is the club’s ability to stay true to their roots. Not only does the London Stadium have an iconic status, it is only 4 miles away from the Boleyn Ground which has played such an integral part to their history. By staying so close to their roots, fans haven’t been isolated and the travel to and from the games has not been dramatically impacted. Ultimately, by being able to stay in the borough of Newham, it is a practical solution that is perfectly suited to aiding West Ham to develop and grow as a club and a business without turning their back on their proud traditions.

 

 

A positive client experience

The biggest challenge for the club was the initial concerns displayed by supporters who were not convinced that the London Stadium was the right place for the club, worried that the size of the stadium would detract from the quality of the atmosphere during home games. These concerns have been adequately addressed and resolved with ground-breaking design solutions that provide the perfect answer to the issues raised. For example, the new roof that has been installed is one of the largest in the world and provides cover for every seat in the stadium. It has been created to ensure the acoustics for the stadium are maximised and the minimum amount of crowd noise is lost across the site. The roof design will amplify the voices of the West Ham fans to create a loud and energising roar to inspire the players on the pitch. West Ham will also use retractable seating technology to cover the surrounding running track and bring 21,000 fans even closer to the action on match days.

The entire selection of 52,000 season tickets has been sold, so with this resounding amount of support comes a huge amount of expectation. By making the pitch five metres longer and four metres wider than the Boleyn Ground, West Ham fans will expect to see exciting, technical football to match the new environment. Behind the scenes is no different as every space has been considered and designed based on the needs of the coaching staff. Having consulted the back-room staff, their entire club can thrive in their new space and achieve success off the pitch by including the latest sports science technology and increasing the size of the changing rooms by 80% in comparison to what was available at the Boleyn Ground.

As for the existing stands and fixtures such as the floodlights from the games, they too will be put to use and repurposed for the stadium rather than completely replacing them. As outlined on the club blog, the seats will be rebranded to proudly display the club’s emblem and colours to show off their identity. Approximately 490 floodlights that were used for the Olympic games were removed while the new roof was fitted and then reinstalled to provide light to the pitch. There has been an incredible effort to reuse the existing stadium infrastructure and optimise their design.

 

Investing in the future

West Ham United will pay £2.5 million per year in rent, the actual contribution to be made by West Ham towards the £272m total conversion costs, is only £15m. The old stadium will be sold and the capital from that sale will then be used to clear existing debts and still have enough left over for further investment.

This move forward makes their intentions clear and delivers a very positive message about their ambition to grow as a business. With this ambition comes their hunger to attract the most talented players in football as they show a commitment to securing a bright future for the club and if they can succeed in securing a spot in the Champions League next season, West Ham United will be able to further enhance the image of their club in such an iconic stadium. West Ham will now be in a position where they can keep their best players and bring in more, rather than relying on transfer fees like they have done in previous years.

The club has entered a very exciting cycle that if successful, which it clearly can be, will inspire more success. With such an attractive stadium and modern facilities for the club to operate out of, the backing of at least 52,000 loyal supporters and the promise of being able to attract new, talented players to their prestigious club, West Ham United’s new stadium is the foundation that will spring the club, business and players to a new level of success.

Despite being slightly different to a traditional business, the values remain the same. When businesses out grow their space or require a new environment to help them achieve success, where they choose to relocate to needs to consider multiple aspects of the business. Whether this is how to retain and attract new talent, or how to maintain the loyalty of customers, your new space needs to embody your brand, your culture and your ambitions for the future.

 

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