Fan Engagement: How One Football Club is Winning the Game

Manchester City Football Club created a fan zone called city square at Etihad Stadium to encourage fans to spend more time at the stadium. The area was covered in tensile fabric structures & has resulted in more revenue and a greater fan experience.
Etihad stadium New City Square
Etihad stadium New City Square
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July 2, 2012 - PRLog -- Football clubs across the UK are having a tough time enticing fans to their stadium on match days and those that do attend are spending less time on site.  Fans personal finances are being squeezed by the credit crunch and their expectations for an overall experience are far greater than what they were even 5 years ago.

Anthony Mahon of FC Business stated that “often stadiums and grounds tend to not get busy up until 20 minutes before kick-off with fans simply turning up for the 90 minutes of football and spending their time at local bars before kick-off.”

One football club in particular has been listening to their fans and taking action.

Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) has been conducting surveys after each 5th game to try and gage what is important to their fans. At the top of the list is having a greater experience pre & post-match. With unpredictable Manchester weather, fans wanted a dry space to eat, be entertained, socialise and watch the game. Fans also wanted to be able to bring their families and feel safe.    

Danny Wilson, Head of Sales and Services at Manchester city said this:  “If a club can generate interest in fans arriving at the ground earlier through engaging and fun activities, then there is an argument it can create a safer environment for fans to enter the stadium.  One thing that can’t be argued is that getting supporters to a ground earlier will certainly increase the potential for generating increased revenue on match days.”

With a good understanding of their fan’s needs and wants, MCFC built City Square at Etihad Stadium.  City Square is a bespoke fan zone area outside the north end of the stadium specifically created to enhance fan’s experience of the game. It’s a place they can watch live interviews, see bands, be entertained, eat, drink & socialise and watch the game.  The addition of City Square has led to fans arriving hours before the match and more and more are bringing their families and making a day of it.

City Square & the new Metrolink entrance/exit features a series of waterproof canopies (over 4,000 m2) creating a ‘festival’ type atmosphere.  Canopies provide fans with a place to enjoy pre & post-game activities. One may think that creating fan pavilions and fan zones could cost the earth, however this is not the case. Using existing outdoor sidewalks, open spaces, car parks, & entrances can all be easily transformed with tensile fabric structures.

In total, 5 bespoke tensile fabric structures (canopies) were installed by Fabric Architecture Limited as part of the overall development of City Square.  Fabric Architecture, known in the industry as experts in creating covered space in and around stadiums has been working in the sports and venues market for over 30 years.

In a recent City fan survey on fan satisfaction, the Premier League placed Manchester City at number one.  City Square has everything ‘covered’ – literally. They are changing the game for fan engagement and it’s paying off.

Kevin Costner’s character heard a voice in the film Field of Dreams, saying: “If you build it they will come.” MCFC has proved this to be the case.

To learn more about how tensile fabric structures can create fan zones, adding revenue to your stadium/football club WHILE increasing fan loyalty,  please contact us on 01452 612800 or

Canopies Installed at Etihad Stadium:

1no. Xtage Evo:

2no. Bespoke Walkway/Food & Beverage Canopies:

2no. Transit Entrance/Exist Canopies:
Source:Fabric Architecture Limited
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