5.2 Seating and Standing Areas
Stadium Guidelines


05 min. reading time

Section 2.3 looks at the range of factors that need to be considered in designing the stadium bowl, including sightlines and best practice for calculating the capacity and addressing circulation. In this section, the types and specifications of seating inside the bowl are examined in more detail. Finally, spectator standing accommodation is considered.


The choice of seating and its configuration within the stadium bowl should be evaluated at an early stage of the design process because the type of seating used could have significant implications on the design of the terracing, as well as impacting the spectator experience in terms of comfort and safety.

When choosing suitable seating, the local climate and operating conditions of the stadium should be considered, together with the cost and the aspirations of the stadium project for comfort and spectator experience.

The local climate can influence seat choice and colour, with the effectiveness of certain materials and methods of construction varying depending on the conditions. Therefore, consideration should be given as to whether the seats are liable to be subjected to extreme weather conditions such as heat, cold, sunlight and/or precipitation. Prolonged exposure or overexposure to UV light can change the colour of the seating, and so in conditions of high UV levels, the UV stability of the materials used should be reviewed.

Safety including flammability, is another important factor to consider when choosing seating. All seats used in a stadium should be fire-retardant so that the stadium bowl and fixings are fire-sterile.

The general robustness of seats should also be bourne in mind, including the method by which the seats are fixed to the terracing. Different levels of robustness may need to be considered for different areas of seating, such as in designated areas for visiting (away) fans, where the seats may see heavier usage compared to those in areas for home fans. Good maintenance will extend the life and appearance of the seats over a longer period.

Basic seat types fall into two main categories: fixed and tip-up seats. Fixed seats can offer a robust, lower-cost solution due to having no moving parts. They do, however, tend to require more regular cleaning and can restrict the clearway, affecting easy egress and emergency evacuation unless the tread depths of the terracing are increased. Tip-up seats tend to be more expensive but often provide more spectator comfort, while also maximising space for spectator movement along the rows. Seat selection will most likely vary across the stadium bowl, with different users having different requirements. In hospitality seating and occasionally in general admission areas, seats can be cushioned. If this is the case, it is generally advisable that these seats are based on a tip-up design, and made of weather-resistant materials to prolong life and aid maintenance. Hospitality seating typically require much larger tread depths to achieve a minimum clearway to accommodate the armed and cushioned seats as specified in Sub-Section 6.3.1 and to provide greater comfort.

Figure 5.2.1
Clearways on tipup seats indicated between seats, seats and rails/walls, and seats with fixed arms.


The setting-out of seating is driven by the need to achieve the desired levels of comfort/spectator experience, together with safety considerations. However, it is worth remembering that these factors may affect the overall cost of the stadium, as its size and cost will increase with larger seat widths and tread depths.

For general admission areas, the tread depths of the terracing should be 800mm (minimum), with seat centres at 500mm (minimum), if designed to best international practice. Premium seating centres and tread depths will usually be greater to allow for additional comfort and to allow for larger seats, particularly those with fixed armrests (see Sub-Section 6.3.1).

When reviewing tread depths and seat types, it is important to maintain a minimum clearway of 400mm between seats and/or another fixed element in the bowl, such as a barrier. The minimum clearway, as illustrated and explained in Figure 5.2.1, is required for safe egress and emergency evacuation and to create a safe dimension for spectators to pass each other during a match to access seats. This is particularly important in steeper tiers such as the upper tiers in larger stadiums, where a safe clearway is required to mitigate any risk of significant falls by spectators.

When setting out the seating, the number of seats between radial gangways is important in the early design of the stadium bowl, as it may inform the set-out of the structural grid of the bowl and stadium.

The number of seats between gangways may vary depending on local regulations and may be affected by the methodology of either unit widths or flow rates (refer to Sub-Section 2.3.2). In principle, the number of seats between gangways should be set to achieve a safe and comfortable number of seats that may need to be passed by a spectator wishing to exit the row. A figure in the range of 28 seats between gangways is accepted as good practice internationally. When the row is accessed via only one gangway, this number should be halved.


The four primary categories of accessibility seating are outlined below. The amount of accessible seating that is required as a proportion of the overall stadium capacity is outlined in Sub-Section 2.3.1.

Designated positions for wheelchair users
Refer to Sub-Sections 2.3.1 and 2.3.3.

Easy access seating
Easy access seating is seating for spectators with limited mobility who are not wheelchair users. It is set out in the same manner as general admission seating and should be accessible via no more than three steps from the concourse or lounge it is served by. These seats should ideally be aisle seats adjacent to the gangway, and a companion seat should be located next to each easy access seat.

Easy access amenity seating
Easy access amenity seating should be set out with minimum seat centres of 500mm and should be accessible via no more than three steps from the concourse or lounge it is served by. Additionally, the tread depth of the terracing should allow for a minimum clearway of 650mm in front of the seat when the seat is down if it is a tip-up seat, or from the front of the seat if it is fixed. This additional space is to allow for an assistance dog where required by spectators. These seats should be fitted with arms to aid the spectator in standing and sitting. A companion seat should be located next to each easy access amenity seat.

Easy access extra-width seating
Easy access extra-width seating is seating for obese adults with limited mobility and/or requiring additional seat widths. These seats should be equivalent in width to two standard general admission seats and should be accessible via no more than three steps from the concourse or lounge they are served by. Additionally, the tread depth of the terracing should allow for a minimum clearway of 650mm in front of the seat when the seat is down if it is a tip-up seat, or from the front of the seat if it is fixed. The seat design should have a minimum load-carrying capacity of 250kg.


Standing areas within stadiums are customary in some parts of the world. This can be due to cost factors, spectator preferences and the perceived impact on the matchday atmosphere. Whilst FIFA does not specifically recommend the incorporation of standing areas into new stadium designs, it recognises that in some circumstances the provision of standing accommodation reflects the preferences of the local market.

When looking at the introduction of standing areas in a stadium, local and regional codes and regulations, as well as tournament requirements should be considered. If standing is to be included within the stadium, these areas must be designed to ensure a safe environment for all spectators.

Figure 5.2.2
In standing areas, C-values are calculated using every other row.

For larger stadiums, FIFA would recommend that any standing areas be designed in a manner that allocates a designated space for each spectator. These areas should also have the capability to be converted back to all-seated tiers. This is usually achieved using “rail seats”, which are tip-up seats fixed to a dividing barrier between the rows, or standalone seats with independent barriers (see Figure 5.2.2). For more details on creating safe standing areas, refer to the SGSA ’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (6th Edition) and Supplementary Guidance 0:1 Safe standing in seated areas.

Smaller stadiums might contain more traditional standing terraces that are not convertible to seats, but they must be designed in a safe manner, such as the method outlined in the SGSA’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (6th Edition).

These principles are reflected in the stadium categories detailed in Section 7.1. For Category 1 and 2 stadiums, any seating accommodation should be individually allocated and convertible back to seating. Other standing areas cannot be included within the overall capacity calculations required for each category of stadium.


When setting out sightlines for standing areas, the C-values are calculated using every other row as it is assumed that standing spectators can more easily adjust their viewing position in relation to the spectators in front than spectators in seated areas. When incorporating seats with barriers, the sightlines should initially be calculated for seated spectators and reviewed in standing mode to ensure compliance with the desired C-value.

One crucial aspect in locating and designing standing areas is to avoid or mitigate any sightline restrictions to any adjacent seated areas. This is to avoid causing spectators in these areas to stand unnecessarily to maintain views of the field of play.