Strict regulations and standards for seating in places of public entertainment contribute to a positive spectator experience.
Image © John Gollings, courtesy of ATP
Today, stadiums are used for a wide range of sporting, music and other events. The safety and performance of the seating, along with other stadium facilities, is crucial in providing the paying public with a trouble-free event. Stadiums have met spectators’ expectations of increased comfort through refurbishment programmes in older buildings, or where newly built stadiums have been equipped with the appropriate types of seating.
There are many suppliers of stadium seating who can produce a wide range of designs suitable for anyone – from the public to executives, directors, event participants, and the press and media. The main performance standards for assessing stadium seating are listed below:
- EN 12727:2000 – ‘Furniture. Ranked seating. Test methods and requirements for strength and durability’. This standard applies to ranked seating permanently fixed to the floor and or walls – bench or individual seat form – and suitable for use in stadiums and auditoriums. It includes assessment for fatigue, static loading, durability and impact
- EN 13200 part 4:2006 – ‘Seats – Product characteristics’. This provides requirements for fixed seating. It includes corrosion resistance of metal parts, resistance to weathering and temperature resistance, as well as strength and durability requirements. It also lists criteria for the fixing of the seating to the structure (the stadium).
In addition, flammability requirements will need to be addressed. In the UK, the operator of the building is responsible for fire safety (Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005). The appropriate tests depend on the risk assessments of the facility undertaken by the operator of the building. Whole item testing is often the most appropriate way of testing these types of products, and BS 5852:2006 section 12 provides test methods for a variety of ignition sources, including cigarette, match and cribs.
Professional organisations may have their own specifications and requirements. For instance, seating for football events must comply with FIFA (and, in Europe, UEFA) regulations.
Types and materials
Normally, seat frames are manufactured from steel, which is then galvanised or thermoplastic-coated to provide protection against corrosion and wear. Seats and backs may be injection-moulded or upholstered, and be fixed to the horizontal or vertical part of the stepped banking using a variety of mechanical fixings. Once installed, these seats should be virtually maintenance free for a number of years.
There are also telescopic seating platform systems, which are designed for use in multi-purpose arenas. They consist of banks of tiered seating which can be opened or closed at the touch of a button. These systems also feature refined levels of finishing and may include guardrails, aisle lights, row numbers and aisle letters. There are also mobile versions, which can be moved on wheels and stored in a separate location.
In the USA, stadium and arena seating is often fully upholstered and is intended to improve spectator comfort. This level of comfort has also made its way into some stadiums in Europe.
Innovative designs based on good ergonomic foundations can provide the individual with the perception of long-term comfort. This is a useful advantage when some sports require the spectator to remain sitting for long periods. Foam-based seating needs to remain resilient throughout the seat’s life and should not significantly lose its thickness or hardness. Ventilation of the upholstery is also important, together with a cover that remains intact during service, thus preventing absorption and subsequent hygiene problems.
Some of these aspects will be covered by the standards listed above. However, in many cases, additional testing may be required to show that a claim is justified.
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