> Ashton Gate Stadium
A 27,000-Seater Modern, Multi-use, 365-Day-A-Year Venue
A 27,000-Seater Modern, Multi-use, 365-Day-A-Year Venue
In 2016 the first phase of a masterplan to develop Ashton Gate was completed. At a cost of nearly £50m, Ashton Gate Stadium was rebuilt and transformed into a 27,000-seater modern, multi-use, 365-day-a-year venue and of course the proud home of Bristol City FC, Bristol Bears Rugby and the Bristol Sport group HQ.
Ashton Gate Chairman, Martin Griffiths: “In the last two years the rebuild of Ashton Gate has injected an additional nine million pounds into the local economy. With a staff payroll of more than a thousand people, we are proud to be one of the largest employers in the city, with 80% of those living within five miles of the stadium itself.”
With the stadium rebuild a success, and an economic pathway for financial sustainability established, the second phase has been put into action. Extending the stadium footprint to create a state-of-the-art 4000-seater Sports & Convention Centre (SCC) and a whole new “Sporting Quarter” for the city of Bristol.
At the heart of the new SCC would be Bristol Sport’s pro-basketball team ‘The Bristol Flyers’. Competing in the British Basketball League, the Flyers have traditionally had their home at SGS College, Filton. With sell-out crowds every week for the last two seasons, the need to bring them to BS3 with a bigger and better home is critical to their growth.
Alongside providing a home for the Flyers, the SCC will also have two hotels; a multi-storey car park; residential and retail space plus an improved outdoor fan village.
The second phase is a unique opportunity to build on the success of Ashton Gate as a sports, leisure and events venue and deliver to the city, a true multi-purpose site attracting national and international events.
Martin Griffiths: “Since the redevelopment, Ashton Gate has become synonymous with hosting the ‘big’ sporting and entertainment events. Starting with a small fan village in 2015 for the Rugby World Cup there were just a few hundred fans. By 2018 and the FIFA World Cup – the fan village had grown to encompass all of the stadium’s outdoor space. Six thousand ticketed fans per match and a global reach of millions as news clips of England celebrations went viral – right the way up to the semi-final!”
Griffiths began the project with technology at its core. “Before we drew the stadium outline, we designed the technology platform. We wanted to future proof the stadium’s network and associated infrastructure as it was obvious that data, streaming and mobile devices would dominate interaction on matchday. Right from the start, we searched for local innovation which has led us to work with some of Bristol’s most interesting tech start-ups as well as Bristol University Computer Sciences lab. In turn, this has led us to set up our own “laboratory” within the stadium where we have been (and will continue to) work with local tech companies to develop new, leading-edge concepts to enhance the experience of visitors to Ashton Gate.
“We have mixed and matched when it comes to hardware deployment. From industry standards like Cisco to bare metal switches, software-defined network technology, leading-edge Wi-Fi installations, 5G and now in a new phase – experimental work on Internet of Things’ software and the federation of control systems.”
2019 saw Ashton Gate host its first Summer Series of concerts. The stellar line-up of Rod Stewart; Take That; Muse and the Spice Girls, secured in the knowledge that there was a four-week window in the “off-season” in which to establish the stadium as a viable concert venue capable of attracting the biggest acts to Bristol.
“There have been many highlights since the rebuild, perhaps though, of all of the incredible moments, it was actually the acknowledgement by the South West business community of the tremendous positive impact the stadium has had on its local environment. What makes us unique is Ashton Gate is a part of a bigger picture.” Reflects Griffiths.
Owned by Stephen Lansdown, CBE, the Bristol-born businessman and co-founder of financial investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown had a vision to put Bristol on the sporting map. By investing in his sports teams – Bristol City men & women; Bristol Bears men & women and Flyers Basketball, along with the plans for the stadium, he could fundamentally improve the lives of people in the city.
As a previous winner of “Business In The Community” at the SW Business Leader Awards Lansdown’s vision has been recognised as “making a significant positive impact within the community and to the lives of individuals around it.”
Mark Kelly, Ashton Gate’s Managing Director concludes: “Delivering matchdays and the concerts is fantastic but this was a proud moment for the whole sporting group, not least for our community programmes – all of which are headquartered at the stadium. They were a significant contributor to us winning the award.
“We want Ashton Gate to be the beating heart of sport in the city and a beacon for the community. It isn’t just of benefit to a bottom line or a league table – it is of benefit to all of us who live in this amazing city.”- Mark Kelly, Ashton Gate’s Managing Director
“The stadium is not only their home but also provides them with unique opportunities for the programmes they run. Be it the Bristol City Robins Foundation education programmes giving students an incredible classroom space overlooking the pitch; or Bristol Bears Community Foundation’s Spectrum Work Experience which has been able to tap into various parts of a working stadium to gain invaluable experience. From using the Ashton Gate media team’s facility for its Disability Journalism course or working on the Store’s shop floor alongside our retail team.
“We want Ashton Gate to be the beating heart of sport in the city and a beacon for the community. It isn’t just of benefit to a bottom line or a league table – it is of benefit to all of us who live in this amazing city.”