Close view of pitch action in London Stadium


London Stadium July 2020 Image: West Ham United

The London Stadium repurposing work will result in fans being significantly closer to the scene of action for Premier League matches. The objective is to enhance the game day experience for the fans who sit behind the goals at both ends of the pitch. This whole exercise will make the arena more ‘football-friendly’.

London Stadium is a multiuse outdoor stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the Stratford district of London (UK). It was constructed for the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Paralympics — serving as the track and field venue, and as the site of their opening and closing ceremonies.

The seats will be installed at the end of the current Premier League season, with West Ham United’s last game to be held behind closed doors coming Sunday versus Aston Villa FC. The objective is to welcome supporters back to the modified seating in time for the new season to begin later this autumn.

Fans have been notified of the changes and how it may impact their current seating position, with some seats a full four meters closer to the pitch. The seating arrangement is being constructed in a way that would be compatible with rail seating, should Government guidelines on all-seater stadiums change.

An advantage of the new seat set-up will be an improvement in seat transition times for other events, which are a hallmark of the Stadium’s summer schedule. The venue has played host to world class rugby, multiple concerts which have been total sellout, regular Major League Baseball (MLB) season fixtures, apart from its noticeable role as a global home of athletics, with the popular Anniversary Games a regular in the Diamond League calendar at the Stadium.

This time-saving conversion will offset the cost of the new seating system for the north and south stands, paying back the c£5 million investment within five years.

Remarked Graham Gilmore, CEO of London Stadium, “We are always looking to build on our reputation as the country’s most successful multiuse venue, so while we have had to deal with the disappointment of postponements and cancellations to our scheduled 2020 summer events, we are delighted to make improvements to the seating, specifically for Premier League football matches. This work will enhance the customer experience and bring fans closer to the action. It will also allow us to adapt the venue for our other events in a reduced timeframe, saving significant costs. We look forward to welcoming fans back in the very near future.”

The move, paid for by stadium operators E20, will have no impact on the 60,000 capacity. However, with seats moving forward by as much as four meters, the primary tenant of the stadium English professional football club West Ham United hope fans will notice an improvement at the stadium, which has come in for huge criticism for the distance of its seats from the pitch.

West Ham Vice-Chairman Karren Brady noted, “Reconfiguring London Stadium to bring the stands closer to the action was always something we have wanted to do, and we understand how important this is for our fans.”

The work will cost £5m, but the stadium operators claim it will pay for itself within five years as the new arrangement will improve seat transition times when the stadium is being changed for non-football events.

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