Wembley Stadium paves the way for a different type of venue

Since it opened in Spring 2007, the new Wembley Stadium has hosted a wealth and variety of events, from England football internationals, to American football games and high-profile music extravaganzas such as Live Earth and the Concert for Diana.

The venue has moved on from simply staging sport and has developed into a multifunctional site for exhibitions, conferences, meetings and awards ceremonies, to name but a few.

Jackie Boughton, head of sales for conference and banqueting at Wembley Stadium, said that the venue has been something of a trailblazer in this respect.

"The notion of holding events in a stadium is relatively new and I'd like to think that Wembley has been at the forefront of that because until recently stadia literally existed to have matches in and the occasional concert," she explained.

Ms Boughton said that the stadium is now holding some high-tech exhibitions that organisers would not have dreamed of staging at a venue such as Wembley in the past.

"Not only are we holding them, but also meeting the requirements of these event organisers," she added.

It is Wembley's design that allows it to serve this multifunctional purpose when it comes to conference and banqueting.

Ms Boughton explained that the venue differs from more traditional stadia, where the rooms tend to be long and narrow. The Great Hall is virtually square and can host up to 2,000 guests for a cocktail reception, as well as offering stunning views of Olympic Way.

The Bobby Moore Room offers a similar layout, able to host over 3,000 people for a cocktail reception. There are six separate conference halls in total within the stadium, including the Wembley Suite, the Atrium, Arc and the Venue, as well as the Pitch View Rooms.

Ms Boughton said that Wembley has been at the forefront of developing hospitality for stadia and it seems that the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which is being built ahead of the South Africa 2010 World Cup, has followed suit.

As well as featuring an arch which has a striking resemblance to the famous Wembley structure, the design also incorporates 150 hospitality suites with room for up to 7,500 guests, which will cover a variety of events options.

The draw of Wembley, which is no doubt what the Moses Mabhida designers what to emulate, is its iconic status.

"It's a football ground, but you don't have to like football to come to Wembley stadium, you're walking into a national icon," Ms Boughton commented.

"I think the arch has really become a landmark on the London scene and to have an event under the arch itself is amazing," she added.

Ms Boughton said that regardless of what event Wembley is set up to host, it is always "awe-inspiring". She explained that it is particularly popular with people offering incentive events as a result.

"You're not just sitting in an hall looking at four walls. Invariably the majority of our spaces, some look out onto the pitch, some look out onto the back of the stadium but they all have quite amazing views."

And with England competing to host the World Cup in 2018, Wembley's popularity as an events venue could skyrocket. Ms Boughton said that the bid itself will help to raise the profile of the iconic facility further and if the country were to secure the competition, other stadia would be put firmly on the map as events venues.

"When people are choosing a Christmas party venue, they won't necessarily just think about the traditional hotel in London, they might think of Wembley stadium," she concluded.ADNFCR-1752-ID-19418163-ADNFCR

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