Past and current trends

Traditionally the sports stadium was a modest facility with a capacity of perhaps a few hundred, serving a small local community and forming part of the social fabric along with the church, town hall and drinking house.

As communities grew larger and more mobile, with ordinary people able and willing to travel great distances to follow their favourite sports, stadia became larger and much of the new capacity was needed specifically for visiting spectators. The presence of multitudes of 'away' supporters created problems in crowd control for which no one (whether the local communities, their police forces, or stadium managers) was adequately prepared. We tend to think of this as a recent problem, but it goes back many decades. Evidence can be found in any book of social history, or in an account such as this, made all the more astonishing by its source:

along the track ... were returning coaches. We conscientiously demolished them with stones. We had broken everything breakable in our own train. The trains that followed, hastily pressed into service and waiting behind us in a straggling queue, were inspired by our methods. We also demolished the signals. Towards four o'clock the massed officials of the suburbs mobilised the firemen to intimidate us ... the mob, one knows, generally becomes inspired when it is necessary to take action. As our train did not leave and other trains arrived in the night, filled with would-be spectators ... we set to work to demolish the station. The station at Juvisy was a big one. The waiting rooms went first, then the station-master's office ...

The passage describes events at an aircraft show in France in 1933 and was written by the famous architectural visionary, le Corbusier.1 Even allowing for the habitual hyperbole of the author it shows that the destructive impulse which may arise in crowds of otherwise civilized sporting fans is, alas, nothing new.

Crowd control proceeded on a 'trial and error' basis, and many mistakes were made; but we have finally begun to evolve a more systematic understanding which can be applied both to the design of stadia and their management. The lessons for stadium design are incorporated in the various chapters of

Aircraft, Le Corbusier, Trefoil Publications, London.

Figure 4.1 The Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadia at the Truman Sports complex, in Kansas City, overcome the difficulty of providing good viewing for the contrasting configurations of baseball and football by giving each sport its own dedicated stadium.

Figure 4.1 The Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadia at the Truman Sports complex, in Kansas City, overcome the difficulty of providing good viewing for the contrasting configurations of baseball and football by giving each sport its own dedicated stadium.

Truman Sports Complex

this book; but an additional response has been a locational one - to move major stadia away from town centres to open land on the town periphery.

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