Stadium Guidelines


05 min. reading time

IT (information technology) consists of systems to support the business and operations of the stadium, communications networks, operational technology to support the functions of the building, and spectator information systems such as video screens and audio systems. These systems rely on underlying communications network infrastructure.

There are many components within a stadium that are heavily reliant on the IT systems described in this section, such as broadcast and infotainment installations. This section does not focus on these in detail but they should be considered in the design and overall IT strategy.


All stadiums rely on flexible and adaptable communications cabling infrastructure. Regardless of the size of the stadium, this cabling infrastructure should be compliant with local standards and considered at the design phase.

Reference should be made to ISO 11801 as this contains best practice for the design of cabling infrastructure. In addition, single-mode fibre should be used for all vertical cabling, with UTP (Cat5e min) suitable for use in horizontal conditions.

Stadiums that host top-level domestic international and regular televised matches should consider resilience in the backbone connectivity infrastructure so that any single point of failure only affects an isolated part of the stadium, and continuity of service and operations is maintained.

Figure 5.7.1
Overview of typical stadium IT infrastructure

Figure 5.7.2
Typical LAN backbone topology


IP (Internet Protocol) networking and the infrastructure supporting it is defined as the Local Area Network (LAN). A LAN should be provided in all stadiums, although the scale and topology of the system will vary according to the size and applications running on the LAN.

With the extensive use of smart devices and objects that require digital interconnectivity, the reliance on IP connectivity is increasing. Network resilience of 99.999% should be considered for larger stadiums hosting live broadcasts to ensure that the failure of any event-critical systems (ticketing, broadcast, event services and critical communications) will not result in the disruption or postponement of an event. An overall network topology will consist of the primary (or core) layer part of the network that will connect to the secondary (or access) layer part of the network.

In large stadiums, there should be a three-tier backbone network architecture in the form of core, distribution and access layers to better manage network traffic across the stadium and keep backbone cabling to a manageable level. How this is achieved should be agreed on a project-specific level, and it is down to the choice of the network designer and IT operational considerations.

The interconnections between the core, distribution (where deployed) and access layer are termed as the LAN backbone, which is the information super-highway in the stadium and needs to be kept up and running as multiple systems and applications use it. The general LAN backbone topology is a resilient star configuration, although alternative methods of creating LAN backbones are suitable.

Private Mobile Radio (PMR)

A PMR solution should be considered for stadiums that regularly host competitive matches. PMR systems provide essential communications during events for key operational user groups such as stewards, security and facility management personnel. The main advantage of PMR communications is that when other means of communications fail, the radio system plays an important role for secure critical communications across key user groups and their central coordination points.

Radio coverage should be provided throughout the stadium and key external circulation and entry/exit routes around the stadium.

A PMR solution can be procured in-house or as an outsourced service. Where an in-house system is used, the stadium operator will need to obtain a radio spectrum licence.

Emergency services PMR

PMR for emergency services extends the mobile radio systems used by the fire, ambulance and police services to facilitate coverage within the stadium. The extent to which this enhancement is required is often determined by local regulations and the size of the stadium and the scale of events it will host.

For smaller stadiums, the existing emergency services’ radio networks will usually provide the necessary outdoor and stand area coverage to fulfil their needs. Where radio enhancement is necessary at a stadium, equipment space should be set aside for the radio service provider in a secure technical room.

Mobile communications

Mobile communications provide connectivity to mobile operators’ networks for 3G, 4G and 5G services.

When spectators gather in stadiums in large numbers during events, the demand to access mobile networks is likely to be very high. The stadium will need to provide the necessary space and facilities infrastructure for the operators to install their solution in order to provide sufficient network coverage. Solutions that allow multiple operators to share space and infrastructure will facilitate the best coverage, although commercial relationships will sometimes grant rights to an individual operator. A sufficient number of masts/emitters in suitable locations should be installed to ensure that the desired level of coverage is provided.

It is also possible for stadiums to become mobile phone connectivity hubs that serve their community. Such opportunities should be examined during the design process as the antennas required can be incorporated into stadium structures such as roofs or lighting columns. This can also provide revenue-generating opportunities.

Wireless LAN (WLAN or WIFI)

The availability of WLAN technology is a common expectation of various user groups across different areas of a stadium. However, providing this coverage can be challenging given the scale of the stadium and the use of dense construction materials such as concrete. Therefore, the need to provide WLAN coverage should be assessed by the designers of all building components.

Wider coverage in spectator areas is becoming more feasible as a result of wireless access points with increased capacity being able to support a high density of users, whilst the cost of deploying the technology is decreasing. Each stadium should attempt to measure matchday peak demand and balance the cost of providing this against the potential benefits of providing wireless network services to spectators.

The recommended minimum standard for WLANs is 802.11ax with backwards compatibility with legacy devices, which should provide location-based services using both 2.4 and 5.0Ghz bands. The system should incorporate automatic channel, frequency and power optimisation to manage and recover from device failures as well as to maximise the performance of the system. It should also support separation of different user types so that priority can be granted to certain user groups, such as media and stadium operations. Therefore public and private traffic can be segregated.

Where mobile devices within the venue are required to support mobile VOIP (voice over IP) calls around the venue by roaming staff, the wireless planning should have overlapping coverage from access points so that calls are not dropped.

Wireless networking technology is evolving rapidly and the WLAN protocol should be confirmed by the stadium project prior to beginning design due to frequent upgrades. The most important consideration for wireless networks and associated equipment is compliance with standards – this will ensure interoperability and compatibility with different end-user equipment that may be using legacy protocols.

Wireless protocols are subject to evolution and change. At the point of design, the stadium project should determine a design basis to select the most appropriate prevailing and approved wireless network protocols.

Figure 5.7.3
Stadium site with diverse routes to a single service provider’s exchange

Figure 5.7.4
Stadium site with diverse routes to different exchanges for added resilience, particularly relevant for stadiums that host major international matches

Telecommunications service providers

All stadiums need to connect to the outside world for communications and information exchange purposes. Large stadiums should have two telecommunications incoming service provider routes at separate positions so that if there is an outage or damage leading to one route and link being out of service, there is an alternative communications path so that service continuity is maintained. Service availability targets should be agreed at an early stage of the project as these will inform what should be prioritised and/or provided in order to achieve more resilience.

Smaller stadiums can have one intake position, and this could be further enhanced on event days with additional temporary back-up circuits for specific events, as required.

Private internet connectivity and secure VPNs will be increasingly demanded by various service providers such as ticketing providers, merchandising concessionaires and broadcasters. This will result in the need for network connectivity to be provided by telecommunications service providers at a range of stadiums and therefore should be considered at the design stage.


In the majority of stadiums, IT spaces are typically organised into primary and secondary facilities which provide a network of physical spaces within the stadium for IT equipment. In smaller stadiums, these may be combined.

Primary facilities typically contain more critical equipment and infrastructure connections. Secondary IT spaces are generally distributed around the stadium to support localised connections.

Primary IT facilities

Entrance facilities (EFs) are the point where external ducts physically enter a stadium. This can be a stand-alone location or incorporated into another telecommunications space such as the telecommunications intake rooms (TIR). For large stadiums, two EFs should be considered in separate locations.

TIRs are the location where service providers’ incoming cables are terminated and where the service providers place their network terminating equipment. This is typically a location inside the stadium building and a dedicated space for service providers. It is also a location and demarcation point where the external network service meets the internal distribution network. A TIR should be adjacent to a technology equipment room (TER) to keep the interconnecting links between LAN and wide-area network (WAN) as short as possible. A TIR should be sized to co-locate multiple network service providers. It is generally assumed that service providers are willing to share room space and utilities such as power, earthing and cooling provisions.

Stadiums that host top-level domestic, international and regularly televised matches should consider two TERs to accommodate the core network switching equipment, all of the stadium-wide backbone terminations and any local hosting of servers required by the stadium authority.

A mobile operators’ equipment room (MOER) is a shared space provided in a less prime area of the building where mobile operators install their base stations, associated power supplies and backhaul connecting equipment. The room serves as a co-location point for multiple operators to install their equipment and then to connect onto a stadium in-building coverage enhancement system, which either the operators or the stadium deploys. The sizing of this room is dependent upon the concurrent type of services that the operators provide (i.e. 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) and the number of licensed operators. For large venues hosting more than four operators, the size of this room can be significant.

A radio equipment room (RER) is a shared space that could be separate or part of the TER. The radio equipment room is for the location of in-house as well as the emergency services’ radio base station and associated power back-up equipment.

Secondary IT facilities

Figure 5.7.5
Typical secondary equipment room (SER) arrangements where the PA amplifiers are also co-located with IT equipment

Secondary equipment rooms (SERs) act as the access layer for the final distribution of IT services. These rooms should be arranged to respect the 90m maximum structured cabling horizontal link distance to final data outlets. The rooms will also house mobile operators’ secondary distribution equipment and building/security operational technology equipment. The rooms should be planned to cover the stadium zones used across the stadium for operational control.

The SERs should provide for the maximum power needs of the PoE type (power over Ethernet) devices that it will service.

Certain areas of a large stadium that support critical services such as media, ticketing and VOC should have network services from two SERs so that a switch failure in one SER does not affect continuity of service and matchday operations.


Larger stadiums should provide giant video screens to communicate team line-ups, broadcast match highlights, display advertising and make other announcements. They can also play an important role in terms of safety, as they can be used to transmit instructions in the event of an emergency (see Sub-Section 5.4.3). As a minimum, they should provide the match clock and display the match score, and they should be visible to all spectators and players.

The physical size of the screens will be dependent on many factors.

The definition of the screen (pixel pitch) will impact the clarity of its content and inform the dimensions of the screen when it is considered in conjunction with the maximum viewing distances that are specific to the seating bowl and the screen position.

The aspect ratio of giant screens should be 16:9 or a multiple of this. The key driver for this is that images should be the starting point for the design of stadium large displays. This may comprise a single or composite image, e.g. video plus statistic windows. Management of alternative aspect ratios will generally require enhanced content, video and screen management processing.

Video resolution of the production system should be Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) or higher.

The video program (PGM) output and PA signal output should be made available as a live channel to the in-house CATV/IPTV distribution system.

For larger roofed stadiums, displays are frequently integrated into the stadium canopy structure, and this should be identified early in the design process to ensure that the roof structure can support the additional load. Large display installations should also be capable of operating technically and safely during all weather conditions that are prevalent in the local environment. The objective of a display is to provide the best visual experience for all viewers – or as many as is reasonably practicable within the confines of the stadium’s design and layout.

Sight lines (viewing angle) and legibility (viewing distance, content and resolution) are key in determining the ideal location for a display – or multiple displays. Typically, prime locations are below the spectator canopy and in shadow.

Giant video screen at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Qatar

Where large display screens are installed, they should be managed via a central control system, typically located within a control room with a view of the field of play and at least one of the video screens. This should be located adjacent to, or close to the VOC. Two operator positions are typical – one for scoring and timing, the other for display configuration and control. It is good practice to allow for some spare equipment, operator space and electrical capacity; to facilitate temporary upgrades for larger special events.

Figure 5.7.6
Typical location of giant video screens in a stadium


It is essential that stadium operators can communicate clearly with spectators inside and outside the stadium via a powerful and reliable public address (PA) system.

The PA system should deliver high-quality sound, with highly intelligible speech and clear music, over the specified coverage areas. Objective parameters for speech intelligibility, musical clarity, coverage uniformity, level (loudness) and freedom from noise will be developed for each area served in accordance with the appropriate local and international standards. In some stadiums where music concerts are to be hosted, enhanced “concert-quality” systems should be considered. In all cases, the sound should be suitably uniform in level and sufficiently loud to be heard above spectator noise, except in occasional, very high, short-duration crowd noise levels. The system should be designed to avoid echoes and other electroacoustic defects.

The PA system should also be capable of addressing messages exclusively to individual sectors within and adjacent to the stadium and its volume level increased in response to increased crowd noise to ensure intelligibility of voice messaging.

In larger stadiums, a combined PA/VA (voice alarm) system should be considered. Should this be installed, the PA/VA controls should be in a position where the operator has a clear view of the stadium spectator areas. This control room should have the ability to select audio signals from the PA announcer, stadium video control, outside broadcasters and local sources within the control centre (see Sub-Section 5.4.3 for further details on the use of the PA system for safety and security purposes and its interaction with the VOC).

Internal windows between the video control room, the PA announcer and the VOC (if adjacent) can be installed to allow for direct visual communication.

For stadiums intending to host international matches, space for additional announcer positions and a small hatch to feed temporary cables into the stadium bowl would be beneficial.

5.7.5 CATV/ IPTV

CATV and IPTV are the two common technologies for delivering live video/audio signals to screens across the stadium.

Both systems deliver the same high-quality digital signal formats, CATV (Community Access Television) uses coax antenna cable whilst IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is distributed over LAN.

These technologies allow mixed services of terrestrial, cable and satellite TV programs, as well as locally generated program feeds and in-house channels.

IPTV offers great versatility for content, including features such as digital signage, but comes at higher acquisition and maintenance cost, as well as requiring more complex LAN administration.

CATV is simpler to install, maintain and operate. It is usually reliable; and (with all modern TVs having integrated digital tuners) - cost effective to implement.


Stadium projects should also have intercom systems for internal and site-wide regular communications. These systems will allow operational staff, spectators and permanent staff members to talk directly to the stadium operation team, typically located in the Venue Operations Centre.

Areas that intercom systems should be used for include:

• Delivery compounds

• Car park entrance barriers

• Emergency communications from lifts to control rooms

• Emergency egress refuge points


This sub-section focuses on the IT specifications of the match officials’ communications and other supporting technologies, whereas the competition aspects of these technologies are considered in Sub-Section 6.1.6.

Referees and other match officials may require a secure and private communications system for officiating the match. Whilst these systems are not integrated into the fabric of a stadium building, the frequencies used by these radio systems should be identified and any potential interference or “eavesdropping” should be avoided.

Video assistant referee (VAR) systems should be considered where they are likely to be used during matches. These require additional radio or cellular connectivity, depending on the location of the video assistant referee, along with integration and coordination with the broadcast camera feeds.

A Video Operation Room (VOR) is required to host the hardware and software as well as the VARs. The most common solution is a van or cabin located next to the broadcast compound. The most important requirement is for good connectivity (fibre) between the catwalk camera positions and the operational area.

Football adjudication technologies

Adjudication technologies such as camera-based goal-line technology (GLT) are increasingly being used at professional level. Consideration should be given to installing the power and data infrastructure to allow GLT systems to be installed on a match-by-match basis should they not be required for all matches.

For camera-based systems, the optimum location to install cameras is the roof access walkway, however, other locations can also be assessed. All mounting points should be stable and provide a vibration-free railing where the GLT cameras can be mounted. The system is usually mounted on the catwalk and uses antennas to send a signal to the referee.