Stadiums as studios: How the media shape space in the new Juventus Stadium
First Monday

Stadiums as studios: How the media shape space in the new Juventus Stadium by Pietro Palvarini and Simone Tosi



Abstract
In recent years, Italy has been engrossed in a large debate concerning the construction of new stadiums owned by football (soccer) clubs. Far from being a local issue, this debate is occurring in most Western countries (Trumpbour, 2007). Through the analysis of the new Juventus Stadium in Turin — the first “private and integrated” stadium in Italy — we will shed light on the role of media in the decision to build new stadiums and in their spatial configuration. The role of the media is important for several reasons. First of all, they contribute to creating a favourable climate of opinion regarding the need to build a new stadium. In addition, the needs of the media influence the architectural characteristics and spatial layout of the new stadiums. Finally, innovative marketing and media–intensive campaigns play a central role in the construction of the relationship between fans and stadiums (topophilia).

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Transformations of football, media and stadiums
3. The media and the space in the Juventus Stadium
4. Conclusions

 


 

1. Introduction

In Italy, an intense debate on the management of football (soccer) stadiums has started in the past few years (Teotino and Uva, 2010). The emphasis of this debate is mainly on the opportunity to build new stadiums owned by football clubs. This debate is not an Italian peculiarity, as it is widespread in most Western countries (Trumpbour, 2007; King, 2010), and is focused on two main points.

The first concerns the ownership of the facilities (Delaney and Eckstein, 2003). Unlike the traditional model, based on the public ownership of stadiums, current trends promote a model based on private property: new stadiums are often built by initiative of football clubs and owned by them. The reasons behind this approach are primarily economic. First, the new private stadiums (NPS) should increase the efficiency of management and ensure substantial savings for public finances (DeMause and Cagan, 2008; Bennett, 2012). Other arguments also appear relevant: this model is imagined to ensure the security of stadiums by eliminating violent behaviour by fans and by bringing families — which have supposedly drifted away due to the dangerous atmosphere surrounding matches — back to stadiums (Tsoukala, 2009; Armstrong, 1998); in addition, new facilities are seen as a means to bring sports clubs up to high level standards, allowing clubs to compete on an international level; finally, new stadiums are required to enable towns and cities to compete for the organization of sports mega–events (Giulianotti, 2011; Giulianotti and Robertson, 2012).

The second point in this debate is the role of sport and sports facilities in urban areas (Bale and Moen, 1995; Bale, 2001) and, more recently, the spatial, physical and design features of the new stadiums (Frank and Steets, 2010). The NPS model is based on “integrated” stadiums in which traditional sporting functions are merged with a range of additional spaces dedicated to consumption and entertainment (shopping centres, museums, cinemas, hotels, etc.). Consistent with the process of commodification taking place in sport (Giulianotti, 2005a) [1] the NPS are increasingly taking the shape of places of consumption, or ‘cash machines’, while fans can increasingly be seen as consumers (Palvarini and Tosi, 2012; Zinganel, 2010; Giulianotti, 2002).

A field of interest, though still little explored in the literature, is related to the role of the media in the NPS. Specifically, we can observe three different domains revealing the influence of media in this field. First, the need to build NPS is strongly sustained by a favourable climate of opinion created by mass media (Delaney and Eckstein, 2008; Buist and Mason, 2010). Media also influence the physical space of the NPS because of the requirements connected to television broadcasting (Schnell, 2010; Gaffney, 2008). Finally, innovative marketing and media–intensive campaigns are mobilised around stadiums in order to reinforce a sense of belonging between fans and stadiums, in a way quite similar to the one indicated by Bale as “topophilia” (Bale, 1994).

The new Juventus Stadium (JS) in Turin, the case study that takes centre stage in this paper, is a significant example of the abovementioned dynamics. This paper is based on qualitative research carried out in 2011–2012 through various methodologies. Eight sessions of participant observation have been held, both at the stadium and in the surrounding areas. Observations were conducted in the match day, during the guided tours organized by Juventus and during specific visits arranged with Juventus and accompanied by the stadium managers. This research is complemented by an analysis of project documentation, the official Juventus Web site, marketing products and official press conferences. In addition, interviews have been carried out with a set of key actors involved in the construction of the stadium: two Juventus managers (the venue director of the stadium and the real estate director); two architects in charge of the stadium planning (the one in charge of urban planning issues and the expert of media infrastructures in stadiums); two stewards working as security during the matches; a councillor of Venaria, a municipality adjacent to Turin and strongly interested by the spill–over effects of the new stadium [2]. Finally, these data have been integrated by information retrieved from newspaper articles. In particular, an archive of 804 articles from two national newspapers (“La Stampa” and “La Repubblica”) citing the term “Juventus Stadium” between January 2000 and September 2012 was built. Data from newspaper have been used for: a) objective reconstruction of the history of stadium building; b) monitoring of critical/favourable positioning in the mass media debate with regard to the new stadium.

 

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2. Transformations of football, media and stadiums

For a better understanding of the debate on NPS it is appropriate to give a brief account of some important transformations that have affected football in the last two decades, and that can be interpreted as an expression of wider globalization processes (Giulianotti, 2005a).

A first point concerns the growing importance of the economic sphere. There is continuous growth in the business volumes generated by football. The number of people employed in professions involved in this sport is also increasing, as well as the number of players being signed (Slack, 2004). Furthermore, football is undergoing a process of financialization. Today, many clubs are listed on stock exchanges, with a great variety of different shareholders holding interests in many different sectors (Deloitte, 2011; 2012).

A second point concerns the growing internationalization of football, both in terms of the global circulation of players and the importance of international championships played by local teams. The ownership of football clubs is also evocative of this tendency. Up until just a few years ago football was based on local or national owners, while ownership now tends to be delocalised, as in the cases of Paris Saint–Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and, more recently, A.S. Roma (Williams and Hopkins, 2011).

The transformations described above constitute a process of commodification of football, which runs in parallel with a deep change in the way the sport is followed by fans. Media have played a key role in this process — in fact, football has progressively shifted from a sport followed in stadiums to a show being watched from the sofa (Giulianotti, 2005b) by fans who have gradually assumed the characteristics of consumers (McGill, 2001).

The turning point in this respect was the marketing of television rights carried out by the football clubs. During the 1980s and 1990s there was an enormous increase in the importance of television revenues in the budgets of clubs (Real, 1998). This phenomenon has become more pronounced over the last decade, to the point that television rights now form the main source of income for top level clubs. Manchester United, for example, tripled its business volume between 1996/1997 and 2009/2010, while revenues from television rights in the same period increased sevenfold, coming to account for 37 percent of the club’s total budget. During the same period the income share of proceeds from ticket sales substantially decreased (Deloitte, 2011).

This process of growth is not likely to stop, given the development of new media platforms.

“During the 1990s, maturing broadcast markets, and in particular the development of Pay TV, brought a step change in broadcast capacity, allowing premium channels to offer the extensive live coverage, analysis and other exposure which now makes football an integral element of popular culture. More recently, continuing technological advances, the proliferation of delivery platforms, and in particular the development of high speed Internet connections to the mass market have extended the range of methods which connect the global consumer with top class football on a 24/7 basis.” [3]

The increased weight of television rights represents both a useful resource and a limit for the development of the business of each club. Dependence on television rights exposes football clubs to the risk of a massive contraction in revenues in cases of unsatisfactory results. In fact, television networks only consistently remunerate the few teams participating to the most attractive media events, especially international tournaments such as the UEFA Champions League (Andreff and Bourg, 2006).

NPS try to provide an answer to this need for clubs to diversify their income, and to emancipate themselves from “TV rights dependence”. New stadiums, built by merging traditional sports facilities with ancillary activities (shopping centres, cinemas, restaurants, museums etc.) aim exactly to generate new revenue flows and attract new audiences [4], as shown by Deloitte’s annual report (2011; 2012).

“Football clubs generate revenues from day to day football operations from three separate broad sources: 1) matchday revenue — largely derived from gate receipts (including season tickets and memberships); 2) broadcasting revenue — from both domestic and international competitions; and 3) commercial revenue — including sponsorships and merchandising. It is desirable for clubs to have a balanced revenue model, whereby each source contributes a relatively equal share of total revenues. This ensures that clubs diversify risk, reducing the potential impact of factors not wholly under the business’ control, such as a weaker on–pitch performance or adverse conditions in the broadcast or sponsorship market.” [5]

The new Juventus Stadium in Turin, on which we focus our empirical analysis, is a representative case of the above mentioned trends. It provides an innovative example for the Italian context, where the prevailing model consists of public sports facilities rented by private football clubs and exclusively devoted to sporting activities. The JS is the first Serie A team football stadium to apply the model of the club–owned stadium [6], integrating activities other than football matches. The following box provides a short description of the process of planning and construction of the Juventus Stadium and highlights aspects related to the ownership of the stadium and its relationship with the municipality of Turin.

 

Box 1: Juventus Stadium facts and figures

The official stadium for Juventus home games was until 2006 the Stadio Delle Alpi, built for the Italia ’90 World Cup and owned by the municipality of Turin.

At the end of the Nineties, Juventus proposed to the municipality to acquire the land of the Stadio Delle Alpi in order to build a completely new stadium on it, including a commercial area.

After a period of negotiation between the two actors, the proposal was accepted and the transfer of the land to Juventus took place in July 2003, with a building lease formula, granted for 99 years to Juventus for €25 million. In 2008, Juventus presented its definitive plan to knockdown the stadium and build the new one. Demolition work began in November 2008, and on September 8th 2011 the new Juventus Stadium was inaugurated with a ceremony which made a large impact on the media, in time for the 2011–2012 Serie A games.

Besides the stadium and the shopping centre, the transformation involves a large surrounding area, now used for different destinations. Part of it is used as a car park managed by Juventus, while an agreement with the municipality allows these spaces to be left to public use on non–match days. Another part is allocated to green areas intended for public use.


The project Owner Juventus FC
 Total cost €120 million
 Time of construction 2008–2011

Dimensions Surface of the transformation area 355,000 m2
 Stadium area 142,000 m2
 Nordiconad business park area 61,000 m2
 Public spaces 153,000 m2

Capacity Seats 41,000
 Premium seats 3,600
 Sky boxes 62
 Cafés 21
 Food courts 8

Media Areas dedicated to media 2,500 m2
 Workstations in the press area 275

With regard to the budget, the financial investment for Juventus was very high. The land had to be purchased, the old stadium demolished and a new one built from scratch. Work also had to be done on transport infrastructures and in the surrounding green areas.

The presence of a large shopping area was seen by Juventus as an essential feature in order to pay for the huge investment. Juventus did, in fact, sell the right to manage the shopping area outside the stadium to Nordiconad, a large Italian mass retail co–operative. Juventus therefore received approximately €30 million, which considerably reduced the size of its investment.

The name of the stadium itself is also for sale. Juventus reached an agreement with “Sport Five”, an international sports marketing company which specialises in naming rights. Juventus earned around €75 million from this operation. An additional funding of €50 million was obtained by Credito Sportivo, a bank specialised in financing sport and cultural initiatives.

The decision of building this new stadium is primarily connected to the new financial needs of modern football clubs, specifically revenue diversification aimed at economic emancipation (clubs depend heavily on broadcasting rights these days).

Before the construction of the new stadium, Deloitte highlighted that “as with the other Italian clubs, Juventus relies heavily on this source [broadcast rights] which represented 57% of the total revenue in 2010/11” [7]. And again: “Juventus’ matchday revenues remain the weakest element of their business and they still only account for only 8% of total revenue. However, by 2011/12 Juve expect to be playing in their new 40,000 capacity stadium, which will assist them to increase matchday revenues considerably. The new stadium will also provide enhanced opportunities to boost non–matchday revenues from events” [8].

A look at budget data for the first season of the new stadium confirms the expectations about revenue growth and diversification (Table 1).

 

Table 1: Juventus FC revenue sources.
Source: Deloitte, 2012; 2013.
 2010/2011 (old stadium)2011/2012 (new stadium)
Million € ShareMillion € Share
Matchday 11.6 8% 31.8 16%
Broadcasting 88.7 57% 90.6 47%
Commercial 53.6 35% 73.0 37%
Total 153.9 100% 195.4 100%

 

The attempt to lighten the dependence from broadcasting revenues seems to have started successfully, as the budget share dropped from 57 percent to 47 percent, while the matchday revenue doubled from eight percent to 16 percent with the new stadium.

“The club’s impressive financial performance was driven by increases in matchday and commercial revenue of €20.2m (174%) and €19.4m (36%) respectively. Despite playing four fewer home matches than in the 2010/11 season, matchday revenue almost trebled, from €11.6m to €31.8m (£25.7m), as the club enjoyed the benefits of its new €150m 41,000 capacity Juventus Stadium home. The move from the Stadio Olimpico saw average home league match attendances increase by 13,789 (63%), from 21,966 to 35,755 and average matchday revenue increase from €0.4m to €1.4m per game.” [9]

The new stadium does not only call in more spectators. The private stadium also allows Juventus to heavily increase the income obtained from each spectator. In fact, while average attendance grew by 63 percent, the average per–capita revenue has more than doubled (+215 percent). While in the former stadium each spectator was worth 18.21 €, this value has now more than doubled to 39.16 €.

Having briefly contextualized the transformations of contemporary football and the reasons which led Juventus to build a new stadium, we will now concentrate on the three levels at which we set out to study the relationship between media and the JS. First, we will analyse the role played by the media in building a climate of opinion favourable to the new stadium, and the consequences of media technologies on the security and surveillance systems in the stadium; we will then investigate the influence of media on the physical and spatial features of the JS, and finally we will discuss the use of innovative forms of media–intensive marketing, aimed at the creation of topophilia towards the new stadium in Turin.

 

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3. The media and the space in the Juventus Stadium

3.1. Mass media and consensus building for the JS

A first noteworthy link between media and the construction of NPS refers to the process of consensus–building around this kind of sport facility.

This topic is fully covered by the literature. With regard to the Anglo–Saxon world in particular, most scholars have highlighted the strong support accorded by media to the building of NPS (Buist and Mason, 2010). The importance of this support is significant — often even decisive — to the outcome of NPS projects, as uncritical media often become the primary institutional boosters of stadium plans (Delaney and Eckstein, 2008).

In the case of Turin, the role of the media was important in orchestrating a propaganda campaign aimed at demonstrating the need for the new stadium due to the obsolescence of the previous one and the intrinsic goodness of the integrated model [10]. The arguments in favour of the new JS are rooted in some prevalent rhetoric, widely supported and circulated by national and local media. An analysis of local and major national newspapers reveals a particular emphasis on some points. First of all, the new JS was needed to ensure security at the stadium, eradicating violent supporters and bringing back families, apparently alienated by the feeling of danger surrounding the matches. The following headline appeared on a national newspaper, and is a revealing example of the security argument.

Juve, goodbye hooligans’ curve, now the families command. A Juventus revolution: children and parents, in place of the “tough and pure” (Headline in La Stampa, 9 September 2011) [11].

Moreover, newspapers have supported the thesis that the new JS would have been economically sustainable, freeing the local administration from the high costs of the management and maintenance of the old stadium and, above all, providing additional income for Juventus. The economic aspect was often intertwined with that of club prestige and competitiveness, as shown by the following quote:

Juventus continues to work on the idea to fabricate a stadium “worthy of the history of the club”. A matter of budgets, not only of prestige, since — as noted in a study published by the French newspaper “Le Monde” — revenues generated by a private facility, and by everything one can build around it, are becoming one of the main entries in the company accounts. “Juventus wants to achieve important sport results and keep balanced budgets, because economic sustainability is the best guarantee for the continuity of sports results” (La Stampa, 11 September 2007).

In addition to securitarian and economic justifications, which constitute the motivational armamentarium in support of the JS, we see another very important aspect: the construction of the new stadium was also presented to the city as a tool for urban regeneration in a particularly rundown neighbourhood.

From this perspective, as shown in several similar cases (Fussey, et al., 2012; Jones, 2001; Thornley, 2002), the stadium is only the first step in a wider urban transformation which continues today in the areas surrounding the stadium, and where Juventus continues to be the main player.

This is an aspect which clearly shows the importance of the support accorded by the media to the whole operation. In the case of the Turin stadium, the local press has strongly stressed the challenging elements of the neighbourhood, with a particular emphasis on crime and the constant feeling of threat.

With mechanisms similar to those observed in other securitarian campaigns (Maneri, 2011), media support was based on the argument that the neighbourhood suffered from serious deprivation, and that the stadium would have represented an effective solution to this condition. This argument was widely spread on the local press, as the following fragment highlights.

200 sky boxes will also be built, to be used not only for sporting events but also for business meetings and social gatherings during the week. They will give the Continassa area a “new prestige”, with the aim of regenerating the entire neighbourhood of Vallette, currently at high risk of deprivation (La Stampa, 18 January 2003) [12].

Since the 1990s, this area has been described as particularly burdened by social problems: the presence of a prison, the proximity of areas known for drug dealing, many dilapidated public housing estates and a high rate of low–income migrants. Thus the area has been heavily stigmatized as a symbol of deprivation, crime and danger. After the inauguration of the new JS, the media attributed to this new facility the virtue of kick–starting a regeneration of the area.

The process of transformation of the area has gone forth after the construction of the stadium. Juventus has now planned the redevelopment of ‘Cascina Continassa’, an area near the stadium which has been abandoned for years. Different groups of migrants and Roma people have settled here over time, in shacks they have repeatedly been evicted from. Their presence generates social alarm and a strong stigma. This area of approximately 270,000 square meters is the object of further development projects by Juventus, who have acquired the land from the City of Turin. In the coming years Juventus will build in this area the new club headquarters, a football school with several pitches (fields) and changing rooms, a public park, and 15,000 square meters of various facilities such as hotels, spas and cinemas.

These processes express a tendency to the gentrification of the area, leading to the expulsion of unwanted populations (Smith, 2002). One of the arguments used to support the JS was precisely the “upgrading” of a rundown neighbourhood suffering from the presence of populations incompatible with respectable and peaceful urban life.

The problems of this area from a social, urban degeneration and security viewpoint have emerged in recent months. One must enter escorted by armed personnel. I don’t advise going there. It is a hive of Roma, gangsters and delinquents. There are burnt–out cars, people who live in indescribable conditions, who eat and defecate in the same place. It is dreadful. (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of the JS urban planning).

Media attention is currently focused on this area, with the press creating social alarm, emphasizing the stigma of the zone and stressing the need to continue neighbourhood regeneration with additional interventions.

(The area near the stadium) is currently a black hole in the city. And the stench of animal carcasses pervading the air, the dark lanes dotted with open–air dumps, the ruins of the old municipal archives cry vendetta, even more so if you consider that just a few hundred meters away, the new black and white citadel sparkles, with the Juventus Stadium at its centre, like a solitaire diamond. Here the best international sports facility in Italy, there Desolation row, blighted by prostitutes at all hours (La Stampa, 2 August 2012) [13].

The mobilizing power of media campaigns, especially on securitarian issues, has to be taken seriously. A clear example is provided by an episode in December 2011, when the press spread the news that a teenage girl in the neighbourhood had been raped by a group of Roma people. Some local residents immediately organized a torchlight demonstration “to seek justice”, which degenerated into an incendiary attack on the Roma settlement. A few days later it was revealed that the rape charge was completely false [14].

3.2. Media technology and security management in the JS

Besides supporting the need for the new JS through the production of ad hoc discourses, media directly affect the design of the new stadium, defining its spatial characteristics. The stadium is in fact a space thoroughly permeated by media technologies.

A first set of technologies addresses needs of internal control in the stadium. In this respect, the reflections developed in the literature about sports link new tendencies in stadium construction to the more general trend towards the securitisation of public spaces, mainly carried out through visual surveillance technology (Aas, et al., 2009).

The stadium has been interpreted on the basis of the Foucauldian concept of the panopticon.

It has been noted that the ancient stadium was based on a crowd of spectators, very “mixed” from both a physical and an emotional point of view, watching a show taking place at the centre of the arena. In the contemporary stadium, the ideal type of the classical arena is hybridized with features echoing the panoptic model. The first of these features is the presence of closed circuit television cameras (Frank and Steets, 2010; Gaffney and Mascarenhas, 2006).

Today’s football stadia are highly supervised spaces. This is demonstrated by numerous surveillance cameras which observe the crowd from countless perspectives from the stands and roofs of the stadium. [...] The glazed viewing platform of the tower at the centre of the panopticon has been transformed into an all–round glazed area in the stands of today’s stadia, which not only allows ‘supervisors’ and ‘warders’ but also higher–ranking social groups to see without being seen. [15].

The concept of the public in modern stadiums is also substantially different from the promiscuous crowd that characterized the classical arena model. The modern all–seater stadiums [16] are a novelty of great interest. On the one hand, by separating and isolating people, they reduce the flow of feelings of sympathy typical of the stadium crowd. The separation occurs through several mechanisms: barriers between different areas, steep terraces that make it difficult to switch between rows, numbered seats (Giulianotti, 2005b).

On the other hand, this separation constitutes a necessary condition for the effective implementation of surveillance via CCTV, which presupposes an audience divided into distinct and easily identifiable sectors. For the success of this kind of surveillance, carried out through visual technologies, some other regulatory mechanisms are also necessary, such as the tessera del tifoso (“Football Fan Card”, a club–issued identity card needed to buy tickets), numbered and nominal seats, and barriers to mobility between sectors. This set of mechanisms defines the control apparatus, and its terminal is in the security control room inside the stadium.

In the case of the Turin stadium, the operational management of video surveillance takes place in the GOS (Gruppo Operativo Sicurezza — “Security Task Force”) room, located on level 5 of the stadium on the northwest side of the facility. It is a room of just 45 square meters where the police, assisted by fire service and health service representatives, manage security before, during and after games.

This is the room where all the images captured by the 86 CCTV cameras in the stadium converge. We find a great variety of cameras in the stadium: fixed, mobile and “dome” builds. The latter, in particular, can rotate, tilt and zoom in and out of specific areas or subjects, either manually or automatically. The images and information arriving to the GOS room are used both during the match (sending the police to the “warm areas”) and after the match (identifying the fans found guilty of breaching the rules of the stadium).

 

Security notices
 
Figure 1: Security notices.

 

The use of more and more precise and sectoral video surveillance technologies in stadiums is a trait that has been highlighted already in the literature (Giulianotti, 2011).

3.3. The JS as a broadcasting space

So far, we have analysed the relationship between the stadium and the media technologies it contains, mainly with reference to security management. Another key dimension connecting media to the spatial conformation of the NPS is obviously related to television and other forms of broadcasting. The JS media infrastructures are impressive, and the spaces allocated for this purpose have been carefully studied since the planning phase. The strong interrelation between media and the planning of the JS shows how this kind of venue is not merely communicated through media. In fact, the stadium and its representation are not distinct entities; they build on each other in an indissoluble process.

The stadium is a place for viewers who are there but it is also a container of an event that is then carried out by media to a much wider audience. Over the past decade, with the advent of digital technology and pay TV, there was a very strong transformation of trends in the construction or renovation of (sport) facilities (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

The stadium is not built first and then represented. It is designed from the outset as an object incorporating its representation.

(In the JS) every detail of the project [...] cooperates to implement an increasingly sophisticated ‘machine’, not only governed by strict rules, but also by particular requirements, such as television needs which are actually unrelated to the use of the building by its direct users. The new stadium, the project of which has been discussed since the beginning together with the media production area of Juventus, is the example of a last generation facility also in this sense: it has televised stations along the whole periphery of the west and east stands, and a wired system (at 360 degrees on the two rings) to allow maximum shooting versatility [17].

The tight integration between the place and its representation — especially televised — is also evident in the integration of professionals who collaborate to the draft/creation of the project. The architect works in close relationship with the TV director to deal with specific aspects of the stadium. As explained by the architect who was specifically in charge of the design of the stadium in its aspects related to media:

One of the fundamental aspects in our experience of planning was to work with an expert — a television director, who actually would use the facilities of the stadium for high standard television coverage — and to discuss and agree with him over all the aspects that he considered essential, and which have become a part of the set of information that were necessary for the design (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

The design solutions regarding the configuration of the spaces are deeply intertwined with the needs of the media and marketing, and essentially respond to the question of profit to which the stadium responds.

There are some essential aspects in the placement of the cameras. On the one hand they must show the game to viewers at best, to make the event a marketable and commercially usable product in many parts of the world. On the other hand, however, the cameras must also be in a position suitable to show as long as possible the banners of the sponsors placed on the sidelines. These are two contradictory requirements: while a game is best seen from a high angle camera, banner advertising is best seen if framed from a low angle. The mediation between these two aspects decides the actual location of the cameras (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

The size chosen for the new JS testifies to the significance of the link between media and stadium. The JS is built to accommodate up to 41,000 spectators, a significant reduction compared to the capacity of the previous stadium, which provided 69,000 places. This reduction can be interpreted as a consequence of the decline in stadium attendance caused in particular by the television broadcasting of matches since the 1990s.

The (relatively) small size of the stadium is also essential to be able to represent an always crowded stadium. The broadcasting of a “sold out” stadium gives pleasure to television images and conveys a positive representation of the club and its temple.

You need to build stadiums offering enjoyable television broadcasts. Of course, no one likes to see an half empty stadium. This is the reason why we don’t build 80,000–seats stadiums anymore. Otherwise they will never be full. It is sad to see empty stands and curves on television. It gives the idea that the team has few followers. There are stadiums, such as in Portugal, where seats are made in many different colours, so that when the camera pans on them, it gives the feeling that the stadium is always full, to make the vision not so unpleasant to TV viewers, even when few people are in the stadium (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

In the JS initial project the distance between the first row of stands and the edge of the pitch was set at 9 meters. Through simulations, and the advice of the television director who helped us in the design, we realized that the optimal framing of the banner ads would have excluded the fans from the images. So we added two additional rows, reducing the distance between the public and the sidelines to the current 7 meters, to enable the simultaneous framing of banners and public. This change was made in an advanced stage of the design and led to several problems. It was necessary to make changes to the roofing by extending the coverage area. It must be said that the two added rows do not enjoy excellent visibility, being blocked out by operators and television equipment. But from the point of view of marketing it was a fundamental choice, because it increased the quality of the television product (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

In addition, areas devoted to television production and the media coverage of matches take unprecedented importance in JS, far beyond that of the traditional stadiums, which are more oriented to watching live matches. A whole level of the stadium (over 2,000 square meters) is specifically devoted to the media. Here we find a press area of over 1,000 square meters, equipped with workstations for 144 journalists and photographers; a press conference room of 200 square meters for 110 people; the so–called mixed zone (an area of about 200 square meters in which journalists can interview the players leaving the locker rooms), separated by a low glass barrier; a number of various service areas (such as bars, toilets etc.) reserved for media personnel.

Close to the pitch exit, an additional area of 200 square meters, subdivided into boxes, is positioned for journalists to interview players in the immediate aftermath of the match.

A very common thing today is the flash interview after the match: the sweaty player speaking just after the game. The flash interview is a good example of how the design process has changed. The entrance to the changing rooms has always been just a tunnel from the pitch. Today is a much larger area, precisely to make these interviews. In new stadiums — as in the case of Turin — this area is provided with niches of 3 by 2 meters, with all the sponsors in good evidence, the right lighting, cameras, wiring etc. ... which are actually television studios (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

Given the centrality of the broadcasting of sporting events held in the JS, the stadium itself is explicitly set up for media reproduction. Many of the details that make up the setting of the stadium are in fact designed to optimize television exposure.

This attention to the media reproducibility of the stadium space is exemplified by the banners surrounding the goals. They are specifically tilted at an angle that corrects the distortion of perspective on a TV screen, though they are difficult to read from the stands in the stadium. It is evident that the main target in many of the design choices at the JS is not the supporter in the stadium, but the TV audience.

The television coverage of live matches obviously requires infrastructure and dedicated spaces. There are several positions for cameras located in different areas of the stadium. On a technological level, the resources used for transmission at the JS are extremely advanced. There is the well–known “Spidercam”, which allows aerial filming of the pitch, probably according to a taste born from video games. More recently, the technology required for 3D broadcasts has been implemented. On the occasion of the Juventus–Inter match, the first broadcast in 3D by the Sky network in March 2012, 270 technicians were mobilized for the television production, 30 cameras were used and 160 countries watched the game. The coordination of the cameras takes place in a separate control room of about 80 square meters located between the first and second ring of stands.

Finally, a sector of the stands is taken up by a press box where different radio and television broadcasters sit to provide commentary on the matches. Even in this case the JS shows the great attention dedicated to media in its planning: the press box can accommodate up to 275 journalists, compared to an international regulation imposing a minimum of 100 positions for “elite” stadiums (UEFA, 2010).

In a similar logic, even the backgrounds of the boxes dedicated to interviews and the mixed zones are designed specifically for television requirements. The advertising logos placed behind the interviewed players are in fact different in size. Those higher up are smaller than those in the bottom rows, but television relays an image in which the logos are balanced to the viewer’s eye.

 

Backgrounds of the boxes dedicated to interviews
 
Figure 2: Backgrounds of the boxes dedicated to interviews.

 

Even the floodlights are specifically designed for optimal television coverage, especially in high definition. Thus the JS is equipped with a lighting system able to guarantee an average illuminance higher than 2,000 lux [18].

3.4. The image of the JS and topophilia

There is another important dimension in the relationship between JS and the media. We have observed how the Juventus football club strongly focuses on the communication and representation of the new stadium as an object in itself, even beyond its specific function. The stadium–as–an–object–in–itself, beyond its functional significance of a space in which to play football, seems particularly important in the context of the marketing strategies adopted by Juventus. The marketing of the JS is particularly aimed at creating a sense of attachment to the stadium in the mind of fans. It is something quite similar to what is often described with the notion of topophilia. This concept has been introduced by the geographer Yi–Fu Tuan (1974) and subsequently applied to stadiums by different scholars (Bale, 1994; Gaffney, 2008). With regard to stadiums, topophilia has been defined as “a strong sense of belonging to place informed by fans’ experiences inside the stadium” [19].

The emotional bond of the fans towards the stadium is obviously nothing new, and can be traced back to the stadiums of the classical age of ancient Rome and Greece. The Colosseum, for example, was certainly a case of an iconic building ante litteram, being represented on Roman coins since the first century after Christ (Kratzmüller, 2010). And of course, stadiums continued to define a significant element of local identity also in contemporary societies: a place where the fans express their passion, but also rich of social and aggregative meanings for all the inhabitants of the city (Bale, 2000; Paramio, et al., 2008). However, this new generation of stadiums — owned by the football clubs and integrating several different activities with marked commercial value — propose versions of topophilia that are partially different from those usually highlighted. The processes of devotion that we see in action around the new Juventus Stadium seem in fact primarily oriented to generate links with the fans in a “commercial way”. While the bond to the stadium traditionally originated from belonging to a community of fans or citizens, topophilia is now directed toward the construction of a concept of stadium as an object of consumption, and the community that it built is made of those who consume the stadium and its services (Palvarini and Tosi, 2013). The attachment to the place does not flow spontaneously as the final outcome of identification processes which are external to the stadium. Topophilia is now generated by the stadium and its stakeholders, and the stadium itself is treated as a market product, by means of ad hoc marketing campaigns.

The media contribute significantly to the production of an emotional bond between the fans and the stadium in Turin. A massive communication campaign was enacted, aimed at rendering the JS a sort of object of worship. Besides traditional communication channels, this campaign has made intense use of Web technologies. For the purpose of this paper it is important to note that this media strategy has direct effects on the definition and planning of the stadium itself.

A first example is the layout of the seats in the stands, which are designed as pixels of a digital picture composing images of players and stars. These images have no functional reason; indeed they are only visible when the stadium is empty. Their sole purpose is to contribute to build a recognizable aesthetic of the stadium through the many pictures and videos on the Internet.

 

The pixel figures on the stands
 
Figure 3: The “pixel” figures on the stands.

 

The attenuation, or perhaps even the cancellation, of the distinction between the stadium–in–use and the stadium–as–an–object–in–itself is reflected in the parallel weakening of the boundary between front–stage and backstage spaces. Changing rooms, traditionally an inaccessible backstage area and therefore somewhat neglected from the design point of view, have become front–stage spaces in the JS, designed in detail by famous designers such as Pininfarina and covered by sponsors’ logos. The reason for such attention to detail is related, once again, to the increasing thrust toward the mediatisation of the interior spaces of the stadium. Recently, changing rooms have in fact become permeable to television cameras, as exclusive filming rights were acquired by Sky, which transmits images of the players preparing for the match.

The introduction of this innovation changes the way of designing and managing this space.

Now everything is done in front of the cameras. Of course, placing cameras in spaces such as the changing rooms means that the formal architecture of these spaces has become crucial. The changing room must be beautiful. Especially in stadiums like the Juventus Stadium owned by football clubs... It’s as if one wanted to shoot a scene inside my house and found my underwear hanging on the drying rack, and a mess all around ... that wouldn’t be good ... (Authors’ interview with the architect in charge of media infrastructures in the JS).

In the same direction, one can interpret the massive range of activities related to the so–called “sport production”, a series of entertainments arranged on the day of the game to engage fans before and after the event, prolonging their stay at the stadium. Specific areas, highly permeated by media technologies, are used for this. For example, there are stands with electronic consoles where video–gaming contests are organized in collaboration with software companies.

Other kinds of media intensive pre–match entertainment are activities involving selected fans going down onto the pitch where they can shoot a penalty or give an interview that is projected live on the stadium’s giant screens.

All the spaces of the JS are characterized by the pervasive presence of media products, amongst which multiple screens are the most visible examples. Television screens dot the numerous dining areas, stand out on the walls of luxury sky boxes and tower above the stands. In these spaces the fans can see television shows broadcasting the highlights of the football matches of the day, just after the game. These objects contribute to topophilia, reproducing some of the characteristics of the domestic space within the public space of the stadium. The stadium wants to be the home of Juventus fans, and the symbolic centrality of the screens effectively promotes identification between the two places.

These screens change the way spectators watch the match. Being spectators at the new JS is a mix of direct vision and vision mediated by screens. The great variety of screens provided by the designers of the stadium is enhanced by a series of “screens–integrated–within–the–viewer”. Indeed, today it is quite common for spectators to use personal electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) to watch TV broadcasts of the game and at the same time to look at the pitch from the stands, adding another perspective to the many already available on site. The experience of watching the game at the stadium overlaps with that of watching the same game from the sofa at home.

 

Premium seats, with integrated LCD screens
 
Figure 4: Premium seats, with integrated LCD screens.

 

Another highly important example to describe the interplay between media and space in the process of generating topophilia is the marketing campaign named “Light Up a Star”. The floor surrounding the stadium has been divided into 50 sectors, and at the centre of each is a star, featuring the name of a Juventus player, past or present. Fans can buy a metal plaque inscribed with their own name from the Juventus Web site, and then place it in the space surrounding the star of their favourite player. In February 2012 about 15,000 plates were sold, for total proceeds of approximately €4.5 million.

 

The Light Up a Star campaign on the Juventus Web site
 
Figure 5: The “Light Up a Star” campaign on the Juventus Web site.

 

The Web plays a primary role in this marketing campaign. The Juventus Web site is the only channel through which fans can purchase a plaque. But above all, the Web has also been the means by which Juventus fans have been involved in the selection of players deemed worthy of a star. Fans were asked to vote for their favourite players in an online poll, and the 50 most voted players had a star dedicated to them.

 

++++++++++

4. Conclusions

The relationship between new private stadiums and media is — as seen through the Juventus Stadium case study — very strong.

Mass media make a decisive contribution towards defining the framework within which the demand for new sports facilities is shaped, whether locally or on a larger scale. The media play an essential role in building the public agenda because of their power in defining social problems. At the same time, the media produce most of the solutions considered legitimate or optimal for these problems. In the case of stadiums, the media contribute to create the necessary consensus for the realization of new private stadiums, presenting them as the solution to a series of problems related to sport, economic and urban issues.

In the JS, even the definition of the internal space is deeply influenced by the role of the media. Three aspects in particular have been addressed in the paper. The first concerns the management of security during sports events. The stadium is a space imbued with media technologies related to surveillance. These technologies redefine the relationship between the observer and the observed, as the public is at the same time both the viewer of the show and the object of the gaze of the CCTV system.

The second aspect concerns the space within the stadium dedicated to the broadcasting of sporting events. The design of the stadium gives unprecedented attention to the media, down to the minutest details. Finally, we have documented the use that sports clubs make of the media in order to create an image of the stadium as an object in itself, beyond its sporting functions. This contributes to the creation of an emotional bond between fans and their stadium.

In this case study we addressed some possible trends for what could be the future shape of sports facilities. In particular, the integrated model of stadiums is likely to spread in all those contexts in which sport is more deeply tied to economic interests. The features that we believe most of the new stadiums will share in the future are primarily private property and the strong integration between sports functions and a wide range of other commercial activities.

From the sociological perspective, the consequences of the physical and functional characteristics of stadiums on visitors prove particularly important. With regard to this point, it is conceivable that a convergence will occur concerning the type of people who will make use of these new facilities. In fact, the processes of modernization described so far are pushing towards selective outcomes, aimed at raising the proportion of affluent groups among the fans and, conversely, at repelling lower income groups, which are generally identified as the most turbulent and potentially dangerous. High–capacity stadiums will give way to smaller facilities, to be filled with fewer fans, but more willing to spend. A stadium without fans certainly does not and will never exist. In fact, the public in the new stadiums continues to be a key player, but its role is reshaped by the different needs of sport clubs, the market and the media.

With regard to sport, the fans in the stands continue to have an important role in supporting the team on the pitch. Sport clubs do not intend to lose this support, because the sporting results continue to be their primary interest. The stadium architecture itself meets the need to create a crowd effect, allowing the noise and the warmth of the fans to be perceived by the players.

From the point of view of commercial interests, the presence of fans in the stadium will remain fundamental to generate matchday income, allowing clubs to reduce the share of the revenue coming from television rights, which fluctuates greatly from season to season.

Finally, it became clear from our research that the public plays a role of primary importance also for the media. The fact that sport is increasingly mediatised and can be followed through an increasingly diversified range of media from any part of the globe does not imply the irrelevance of spectators in the stands. On the contrary, to be successfully marketed, the sport product (the match) must be placed into an appealing emotional frame. This result is also achieved through highly standardised television framing. A crowded stadium clearly conveys a successful image of the club: this increases opportunities to sell television rights more widely, therefore increasing the profits from the sale of advertising space, both on the media and in the stadium.

In this transformation of the role of the public, “being there” is far from being irrelevant: on the contrary, the fans become themselves a part of the broadcast experience. Sometimes they begin to act like they are aware of being viewed by distant audiences, sometimes they unconsciously become an element of the stadium as part of the product.

By way of a conclusion, it must be stressed that the stadium as a physical structure, as well as its uses, are closely interrelated with the processes of production and marketing of sports events through the media. Therefore, the analysis of the object–stadium and its spatial configuration cannot set aside the description and understanding of these processes. For this reason we find stadiums an interesting point of convergence between spatial disciplines and media studies. End of article

 

About the authors

Pietro Palvarini is research fellow in Urban Sociology at the University of Milan–Bicocca. His main research interests include urban regeneration, urban planning and sport participation. Among his publications: “‘Sharing space without hanging together’: A case study of social mix policy in Milan” (with Silvia Mugnano), in Cities, volume 35 (2013; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2013.03.008); “Globalisation, stadiums and the consumerist city: The case of the new Juventus stadium in Turin” (with Simone Tosi), European Journal for Sport and Society, volume 10, number 2 (2013).
E–mail: pietro [dot] palvarini [at] gmail [dot] com

Simone Tosi is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Milan–Bicocca. He deals with political and urban sociology. Among his publications: “Explaining how political culture changes: Catholic activism and the secular left in Italian peace movements” (with Tommaso Vitale), in Social Movement Studies, volume 8, number 2 (2009; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14742830902770282); “Globalisation, stadiums and the consumerist city: The case of the new Juventus stadium in Turin” (with Pietro Palvarini), in European Journal for Sport and Society, volume 10, number 2 (2013).
E–mail: simone [dot] tosi [at] unimib [dot] it

 

Notes

1. A critique of the sport commodification thesis can be found in Moor (2007).

2. An interview with urban planning department officials for the municipality of Turin was requested, but refused.

3. Deloitte, 2011, p. 36.

4. “Lo Stadium è un tesoro da 20 milioni. Perdite dimezzate in un anno [The stadium is a treasure worth 20 million. Losses halved in a year],” La Repubblica (14 September 2012), at http://www.repubblica.it/sport/calcio/serie-a/juventus/2012/09/14/news/bilancio_squalifica_conte_fifa-42546689/, last accessed 23 January 2013.

5. Deloitte, 2011, p. 30.

6. In Italy, the only other stadium owned by a football club is the “Reggiana” stadium, a club that currently plays in a minor league and which dates back to 1995.

7. Deloitte 2012, p. 28.

8. Deloitte 2011, p. 18.

9. Deloitte, 2013, p. 24.

10. The support for the new JS is almost complete. Not only the mainstream media lined up compactly in favour of the new project. We also recorded a complete absence of any form of objection or obstruction, even in the broader and varied galaxy of alternative media. This appears extremely surprising, given that in other similar cases, dissent is often manifested in a visible and strong way (i.e., the stadiums in Genoa and Cagliari).

11. http://www.lastampa.it/2011/09/09/sport/calcio/qui-juve/juve-addio-curva-degli-ultraadesso-comandano-le-famiglie-V0NyVXLUgoqVwEJsNPryZM/pagina.html.

12. La Stampa, 18 January 2003, http://archivio.lastampa.it/LaStampaArchivio/main/History/tmpl_viewObj.jsp?objid=3929423, last accessed 8 February 2013.

13. http://www.lastampa.it/2012/08/02/cronaca/via-il-mattatoio-e-il-degrado-dal-lato-b-della-continassa-xmxkDMEebyPHMgSbL01VEK/index.html.

14. “Spedizione contro i rom per uno stupro inventato [Expedition against the Roma for an invented rape],” La Stampa (10 December 2011), at http://www.lastampa.it/2011/12/10/italia/cronache/spedizione-contro-i-romper-uno-stupro-inventato-tiqwX8WhTWJayTHF6hUxTN/pagina.html.

15. Frank and Steets, 2010, p. 287.

16. In an all–seater stadium, the spectators have an assigned sitting place, and it is forbidden to watch the game from a different seat.

17. Filippi and Vallinotto, 2011, p. 32.

18. Ibid.

19. Edensor and Millington, 2010, p. 150.

 

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Editorial history

Received 20 October 2013; accepted 27 October 2013.


Licenza Creative Commons
“Stadiums as studios: How the media shape space in the new Juventus Stadium” di Pietro Palvarini and Simone Tosi è distribuito con Licenza Creative Commons Attribuzione — Non commerciale — Non opere derivate 3.0 Unported.

Stadiums as studios: How the media shape space in the new Juventus Stadium
by Pietro Palvarini and Simone Tosi.
First Monday, Volume 18, Number 11 - 4 November 2013
http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4959/3791
doi: 10.5210/fm.v18i11.4959.





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