1.7 Multi-Use
Initiation and Feasibility


05 min. reading time

Due to the scale and complexity of the structure and its large footprint, a football stadium is relatively expensive to build when compared to office or retail buildings. Stadiums with only one football team are often used 20-30 times a year for a few hours on each occasion, whereas office or retail buildings are used daily throughout the year. This creates an imbalance between high capital expenditure and infrequent operational income.


It often makes sense to use the stadium for other purposes to improve the stadium’s financial feasibility and to justify the high capital expenditure. Ideally, stadiums should be used on a daily basis to exploit the infrastructure and to generate regular operational income. This is sometimes referred to as “sweating the asset”, which means getting the most out of the building.

Increasing the use of stadiums will also make the building more sustainable.

Although a multi-use approach may increase the use of the stadium and its operational income, it could also lead to higher capital costs. Moreover, it is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to multi-use. What works in one location, cultural setting or environment may not work in another. Multi-use should therefore always be based on a sound business plan (see Section 1.6 for further details).

There are three levels of multi-use which have an increasing impact on user requirements, stadium design and capital costs:

1. Using the stadium building for conferences and events
2. Staging commercial functions within the stadium building
3. Using the pitch and stadium bowl for other sports or events


Although there is usually a financial motivation to maximise the frequency of use, there are many other aspects to consider with regard to multi-use stadiums.

As indicated, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for multi-use. In addition, the potential negative consequences of multi-use must be fully understood and identified. In many cases, compromises need to be made in terms of the football experience, for example by creating larger entrances into the stadium bowl and larger viewing distances. It is important to define a clear concept for multi-use, based on a sound business plan in which football use should always take priority and not be compromised. Otherwise, there is a danger that a stadium will fall between two stools, being neither a good football stadium nor a good venue for other events.

In some cases, a retractable roof may be proposed as part of a multi-use concept. A retractable roof offers some clear advantages in the organisation of non-sporting events at the stadium and may also be used for football matches.

However, the increased capital costs of a retractable roof would need to be justified by a significant increase in operational income from additional events potentially held over many years. Further aspects relating to retractable roofs are covered in Section 2.5.

Figure 1.7.1
Overview of advantages and disadvantages of a multi-use approach

The Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy. The stadium is shared by Genoa C.F.C. and U.C. Sampdoria, and has two home ends and two visitor (away) ends.


The average number of home matches played by a football team is between 20 and 30 per season. In some cases, it may be possible to have multiple football teams using the same stadium.

Possible multiple football users could be as follows:

National Team

In addition to a club team being the main stadium user, the stadium could also be used by the national team. In most cases, this would see high-profile matches added to the event calendar, which could generate additional income for the stadium in the form of rent, hospitality and catering, and parking.

Other aspects to consider in this case are:

• the ease with which the stadium can be rebranded and converted into national colours, before reverting back to club branding;
• the requirement to provide the stadium free of any commercial agreements, such as sponsoring and seating rights; and
• the (potential) additional requirements for the media and broadcasters and in relation to hospitality and floodlighting.

Two Different Club Teams

From a purely financial feasibility point of view, it is attractive to have two different clubs as the main stadium users. This could double the number of events and, in turn, the stadium’s operational income without requiring a significant increase in facilities or the construction budget.

However, having two different clubs from the same city who are likely to be major rivals use the same stadium is very challenging. Some of the key challenges are:

• resistance from, and rivalry between, the supporters of both clubs;
• rebranding and conversion of the stadium on a weekly basis;
• conflict between the club’s match calendars;
• some facilities need to be duplicated (e.g. home dressing room, home fans’ section, VIP/VVIP);
• maintaining the quality of the playing surface, given the high levels of use;
• potential conflict between the clubs’ sponsors with regard to commercial rights within the stadium such as beer-pouring rights; and
• decision-making with regard to priorities concerning stadium maintenance and investment, especially when there are major differences in the clubs’ financial situations.

A record crowd gather to watch Atlético Madrid Women v. FC Barcelona Women at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid.


Different teams from the same club

Stadiums can also be used by different teams from the same club, e.g. by the women’s team or youth teams. This could avoid the need to rent or build facilities elsewhere for these teams, but it must be balanced against the operational costs of running a football event in the main stadium. In some cases, it may be useful to close certain areas or sections of the stadium to reduce operational costs.

Another important aspect to consider in the event that other teams use the main stadium is maintaining the quality of the pitch for the first team.

For some specific events, a club’s reserve or youth team may need to use the main stadium, e.g. in the event that there is a high-risk match or due to competition requirements.

Community Use

In some cases – mainly in relation to smaller stadiums – facilities and pitches could also be used for community sports or by recreational teams. Although in most of these cases there is no direct financial benefit for the stadium, this may strengthen the relationship with the local community and, in turn, generate indirect benefits. In some cases, the provision of facilities for community use is also a condition for obtaining planning permission or gaining access to public funding.

Regular community use is likely to impact pitch quality and, if this is foreseen, an artificial surface might be appropriate.


Multi-use by other sports could be on a regular basis or in the form of one-off events. For many years, the NFL (National Football League) hosted the NFL Europe competition in football stadiums. Many stadiums are also used for both football and rugby.


In 2014, the Hockey World Cup was hosted by ADO Den Haag’s stadium in a 13-day event. An artificial pitch, certified for hockey, was temporarily laid for the event.


Football stadiums can, in principle, also be used for some other sports played on a rectangular pitch, such as rugby, American football or hockey.

The dimensions of the playing surfaces in these sports usually fall within the area covered by a football pitch. However, as these dimensions deviate slightly, the use of the stadium for other sports requires careful planning at the design stage.

Although these sports can be played in a football stadium, the following should be assessed:

• Sightlines and viewing distances for these sports could potentially be compromised
• Hockey and American football are played on artificial surfaces which are not FIFA-approved, although American football can be played on natural grass too. Hosting these sports may therefore involve the conversion of the playing surface, which is a time-consuming and costly operation
• Due to the nature of these sports, rugby and American football may cause greater damage to the playing surface, which may require considerable recovery time before it is suitable for football again. If regular use by other sports is foreseen in the business plan, consideration should be given to pitch reinforcement (refer to Section 2.4). In addition, it could take some time for the line markings used in these sports to disappear
• Rugby and American football teams have more players than football teams and often require larger and/or several dressing rooms


Some football stadiums have been successful in hosting events such as concerts and shows, or religious and cultural events, as well as large corporate gatherings and even motorsports. These events usually involve a significant production element with the construction of large stages and audiovisual show equipment and the need to cover and protect the pitch against the impact of vehicle movement and spectators.

From a commercial point of view, these events may generate significant revenue from stadium rent, hospitality and catering. Visitor dwell-time is usually much longer and less concentrated around specific times such as half-time. Visitors to these events also have a higher propensity to spend as they are attending a one-off event rather than a regular club football match.

However, the build-up and stadium conversion for the event usually takes two to three days and one day to reconvert, not including work that needs to be done to the pitch. This makes it more difficult to integrate such events within the football calendar. Moreover, the impact of these events on the pitch can be considerable. In many cases, the pitch might need to be partially or completely re-turfed after these events. Planning for a summer concert season, after which re-turfing or seeding of the pitch can take place before the start of the following season, is an option used by many clubs and stadiums.

From an operational point of view, it is extremely important that large trucks and cranes are provided with easy access to the pitch area to allow for an efficient operation in terms of the preparation and conversion of the setting. In addition, large backstage areas for staff, storage and space to park trucks are normally required.

Figure 1.7.2
A typical stadium layout for a concert


A stage set being installed at Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt, Germany

Lastly, during these events, a large number of spectators will be on the pitch. This will have an impact on additional access and (emergency) exit routes and additional (temporary) welfare facilities at pitch level (first aid, toilets and catering).

These requirements have a significant impact on the stadium design and result in increased capital costs, which ultimately would need to be recovered through additional income generated by these events.

Although it may seem attractive to plan for and design these international events, only a few major cities around the world have the potential to host them. Offering a central and densely populated location with a large catchment area, along with the possibility of being able to efficiently convert the arena from a football stadium to a concert venue and vice versa, makes a stadium attractive to a promoter or organiser.

A stadium hosting a business meeting


One form of multi-use that can be adopted by most stadiums is to use parts of the stadium building (not including the pitch) for smaller private or corporate events. These are referred to as “conferences and events” in this section and may also include private functions and parties, such as weddings.

Typically, stadiums may rent out hospitality lounges or executive boxes for such events, but in some cases, this could extend to other areas that potentially lie dormant on non-matchdays. The aim should therefore not be to design specific facilities for conferences and events but to optimise the use of those already required for football matches.

Although a typical stadium competes with local hotels and convention centres for some of these events, by its nature, a stadium offers something unique and attractive: football history and culture, the pitch and an impressive building. On the other hand, a large-scale conference in a stadium would not be possible without the proximity of hotel accommodation for the attendees.

The advantage of organising conferences and events is that it makes use of existing rooms in the stadium, whilst also providing additional business for the stadium’s catering provider on non-matchdays.

Figure 1.7.3
Above: examples of layouts for conference and events in a lounge area

Above: dividing walls in a stadium lounge

To successfully host conferences and events, it is important to be able to provide rooms of various sizes and layouts. For example, this may include the use of flexible acoustic divider walls to turn a larger lounge area into multiple smaller rooms (ideally, these will be controlled by an individual lighting and climate control system).

Other important aspects to consider include acoustics, the option to darken the rooms, the available room height for large audiences and presentation screens, storage rooms for furniture and seats, and the design of the back-of-house logistics for catering during these events.

The stadium can become a destination in its own right. This can be informal, with visitors seeking an iconic photo opportunity, but it can also be formalised (and commercialised) by attracting visitors for a stadium tour, a visit to the museum and merchandise store, or even a roof walk.


A football stadium’s large footprint and the geometry of stand designs often mean that space is available for other purposes.

These areas could be used for other non-football-related functions. Examples include retail outlets, health and fitness centres, bars, restaurants, leisure facilities or hotels.

The advantage of this is that the natural space within the stadium envelope is filled, so capital costs are relatively low while additional income can be generated from renting out such areas.

Figure 1.7.4
Typical cross-section featuring commercial space underneath the concourse

Both single-use spaces and double-use commercial spaces can be used. While the first approach would imply a permanent use (e.g. a supermarket or fitness centre), the latter example would require a transformation on a matchday. An example could be a hotel room which converts into a hospitality box.

For single-use spaces, it is important that these functions are fully self-contained and can be operated completely independently from the stadium
in terms of the following:

• Visitor access and (emergency) exits
• Internal circulation
• Welfare facilities
• Back-of-house area and goods receipt

Multi-use spaces are challenging as the logistics on a non-matchday should
be largely separated from other stadium operations, whereas on matchdays
they should function in an integrated way.

However, in both cases, there might still be restrictions on matchdays and
event days due to the use of these spaces as a result of the following:

• A potential additional outer security perimeter
• The high-risk nature of certain events
• Accessibility issues such as capacity restrictions on parking and public transport
• The need to offer the event organiser a commercially clean stadium, which means that branding and advertising might need to be covered up or a facility might have to be closed.