Prior to Brentford's Sky Bet Championship match against Preston North End earlier this month, senior Club officials held another meeting with a fans consultation group as part of the process to plan for the final games at Griffin Park and the move to the Brentford Community Stadium. Last year the Club pledged to put together a consultation group to discuss the stadium move. This group will meet regularly to ensure fan opinions are considered when the Club makes the switch to the new ground.
The minutes from the meeting can be seen below:
Mark Devlin (MD)
Cliff Crown (CC)
Kurt Pittman (KP)
Alan Walsh (AW)
Madeleine Tarrant (MT)
David Hayes (DH)
Sally Stephens (SS)
Ryan Murrant (RM)
Jon Bishop (JB)
Ron Cooper (RC)
Minutes of last meeting and action points/update
MD reviewed the action points from the last meeting. The planned visit to West Bromwich Albion to see how they’ve displayed memorabilia from the Club had to be postponed again but will hopefully take place shortly. MD introduced Ryan Murrant to the group, the Club’s new Fan Engagement Manager.
New stadium update
DH provided an update on the legal, planning and construction elements of the project. We secured our revised planning permission and revised Section 106 agreement that outlines the obligations to the local community and to London Borough of Hounslow on 1 February 2018. We are now in the second week of a six week statutory judicial review period which is due to finish on 16 March. We are also starting work on a revised S106 agreement for the Griffin Park site.
Site clearance and soil remediation work on the main site has been continuing – there has been more soil contamination than expected which is taking some time to address but shouldn’t hold up the start of stadium construction which is likely to begin in earnest in late March/early April.
AW provided a detailed update on the progress being on the design and operations elements of the stadium project. The RIBA Stage 4 Technical Designs are progressing well. (Note: this is the fifth of eight Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages that will take the project from Stage 0 through to Stage 7 where the stadium is in use).
AW provided an overview of some of the key design issues that are being addressed including:
- How to maximise the number of points of sale so that we can minimise queues.
- How to optimise the space and flow of people on the concourses e.g. by using the outside space on the northern concourse road.
- Whether to go for a centralised or local cellar option. The former is space efficient but operationally higher risk and can result in higher wastage so we’ve decided to go for local cellars wherever possible even though more space in each area is required to support this and it may mean that the choice is restricted in some areas.
- Whether we can extend the number of seats beyond 17,250 – but taking into account that sightlines must be maintained and some seats are taken out by plant and mechanical equipment.
- How much flexibility we can build into the service points on the concourses. Each concession will be equipped for both food and drink although those which prioritise food options may have bottled beers rather than draught options.
- Where to include water fountains so that people can fill up bottles easily.
- Progressing the security plans to have Lionel Road South closed for a period of time before, during and after matches as part of matchday operations and counter terrorism measures.
- What changes are required to ensure that all of our guests with special accessibility requirements can easily get to and from their seats, to refreshments options and to the toilets?
- Crowd flows and queuing systems around toilets and maximum provision for men, women – with accessible and ambulant toilets in line with recommended guidance.
- Whether we could make a real post-match entertainment area in one of the premium lounges – to show late matches and maybe have bands and other entertainment.
We discussed briefly whether food options for children could be provided away from the main concessions (either via vending machines or mobile sellers and that we would like to include healthy options as well as sweets and crisps).
The discussion about whether the catering will be managed in-house or contracted out is still ongoing. Some people felt that an in-house option would enable us to provide greater variety e.g. vegan options, healthy food options – as opposed to a contracted-out supplier who may prefer instead to limit the options provided to improve their profit margins.
AW will bring along the 3D model of the stadium for review at the next meeting.
AW also gave an update on the issue of safe standing and reiterated that we would like to be considered as the first Championship Club to pilot safe standing – if the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) allows this. AW/MD have a meeting with the SGSA soon to discuss this. A number of measures may be required as part of this pilot including an agreement to have zoned safe seating as opposed to fully free seating or perhaps to only allow Season Ticket Holders into this safe seating trial area – to ensure that they can all be fully briefed on how the trial will work and the particular safety measures in place.
It was suggested that we should try to work with the Football Supporters Federation on our plans for safe standing – BG to help with this.
Stadium ground-breaking event
SS provided a short update on the draft plans for the stadium ground-breaking event – currently being planned for Monday 19 March and involving a drinks/lunch reception followed by a short event at the site.
This is the first in a number of key milestones – but the importance of this for fans is not being underestimated. We plan to have a couple of competitions for fans to enter to win the chance to attend the stadium ground-breaking event and indeed to play a significant role in the proceedings. This will include one competition to find the Brentford FC family with the most impressive family history to attend and perform the ground-breaking and another to win the ground-breaking spade.
The group felt that it was important that the attendance at the event reflected the real diversity of the supporter base – both current and future and is as inclusive as possible. It should also mark the start of an ongoing ‘nothing can stop us now’ campaign rather than just fall quiet following the event.
We discussed the attendance at the event. Anyone with suggestions should send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org . Post-meeting note: The health and safety issues on site need to be investigated and confirmed before any invitations can be issued and may impact on the type of event we can hold at this point.
There was some discussion around whether One Over the Ait is the best venue for the pre-ground-breaking event – although it was acknowledged that this site is symbolic in terms of where Brentford FC was founded. SS/MD will investigate this further. Post-meeting note: we have discussed One Over the Ait’s policy with Jonathon Swaine, Managing Director of Fuller’s Inns and a long-term Brentford FC supporter. Jonathon apologised for any lack of clarity in their policy with regard to football supporters since their opening which may have resulted from several changes in management of the venue during that time. However, he confirmed that football supporters (both Home and Away) are welcome at One Over the Ait and colours are allowed. Fuller’s will employ the appropriate security according to the category of the match but have experienced very little trouble from football fans to date. Jonathon is very keen for One Over the Ait to be seen as one of the ‘watering holes of choice’ both now and when we move to the new stadium and will ensure that this is a priority for the management of the establishment going forward.
Farewell to Griffin Park survey
KP walked through a summary slide showing the main results from the Farewell to Griffin Park survey. It was agreed that the full report will be circulated to attendees to enable a more detailed review.
Season Ticket migration/access
KP provided a summary of the latest thinking so far on how the Season Ticket migration/access will be managed. The priority will be for Season Ticket Holders (STHs) during the 18/19 season to be able to get access to tickets for themselves and others – that way we will enable each STH to become an ambassador and advocate of the Club, taking this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to encourage friends and family to come and sit with them at the new stadium. An additional level of priority will also be given to 18/19 STHs who have been STHs for the longest time and with the most Ticket Access Points.
KP stressed that the new stadium is not a replica of Griffin Park and it’s important that fans see the new stadium as a blank sheet of paper – rather than trying to work out the equivalent seat based on where they sit currently.
Some discussion points at the meeting:
- We need to make sure it’s really clear what each area will be like e.g. where fans are likely to stand/sing.
- We should protect the seats with the fewest steps for those that really need them.
- We need to encourage people to get themselves together in groups that want to sit together – and nominate a ‘seat champion’ to find the best position in the ground for them.
- Will it be possible for every STH to buy two tickets?
- Can we have a system where blocks of Season Tickets can be put on hold for 48 hours so that a group ‘champion’ can coordinate and organise payment for tickets?
- Can we learn from what has worked/not worked at other Clubs? Members of this group could reach out to fans from other Clubs to support this process.
We will send out an Expression of Interest survey to fans to capture as much information as possible about where they want to sit and with whom – to feed into their appointment to discuss Season Tickets. A draft version of this survey will be provided to fan consultation group members for review in advance of wider circulation.
Ticketing system changeover
KP confirmed that our new ticketing partner has now been chosen and we will be switching over to the new ticketing system with the launch of the 18/19 Season Tickets. A data cleansing process will be undertaken as part of the switchover and a number of important messages about this will be sent out to fans over the coming weeks/months.
Premium seating headlines
KP explained that the prices for the premium lounges have not yet been finalised. MD confirmed that we are investigating what positive price intervention we can make to ensure that regular fans benefit when they decide to upgrade to a premium seat at the new stadium. KP also mentioned that STHs will get first priority on the purchasing of premium seats.
Technology is seen as critical to the success of the new stadium – we would like to understand what fans see as the most important elements and will consider a specific survey on this topic. MD stressed that he wants the new stadium to be seen as one of the most engaging in the country and technology will play an important role in achieving this.
Audit of GP
Jon Bishop offered to help with an audit of memorabilia and other items around Griffin Park that could be sold off as part of the Farewell to Griffin Park.
Summary of action points
- RC/MD – look at the way West Bromwich Albion have displayed memorabilia inside their stadium as a well executed example.
- All – send through any further suggestions of people to include at the stadium ground-breaking event
- SS/MD - Check with One Over the Ait what their policy is/will be in regard of Brentford FC fans on matchdays.
- KP - Circulate Farewell to Griffin Park full report for review.
- Share a copy of the draft Expression of Interest survey to be sent out to fans for review.
- All – continue to feedback thoughts and suggestions via email@example.com
- All - if other fans would like to join this forum, please also email at the address above.
Next meeting: Saturday 17 March 2018 10:30am-12pm in the Hive.