Populous-Designed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Hosts First NFL Games

October 1, 2019

The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opens its doors to the NFL for the first time on Sunday, 6th October 2019, when it hosts the Chicago Bears against the Oakland Raiders. A week later, on Sunday, 13th October 2019, it will hold its second match between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As the architect of the stadium, Populous achieved a world-first in stadium design, fully incorporating two different sports into the same venue without compromise, with bespoke facilities tailored to meet the requirements of association football and American football. As well as being home to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, the venue will host a minimum of two American football games per year during a 10-year partnership between Tottenham Hotspur and the NFL.

Designed from the start as a stadium truly fit for multi-use, Populous has integrated specific features that meet the needs of a typical NFL stadium to ensure that no compromises are required. This considers the playing surface, spectator sightlines, the accommodation required by players and officials, the operational strategy for running matches, and the requirements of the media.

Retractable pitch

The stadium features a retractable grass pitch for association football with a synthetic turf playing surface underneath that will be used for American football. The system allows NFL matches to be played throughout the football season without compromising the quality of the grass pitch.

The natural turf sits in three steel trays, each weighing more than 3,000 tonnes, that retract under the South Stand in just 25 minutes. While parked under the stand, grow lights, air ventilation, dehumidification and irrigation systems keep the grass alive for up to 10 days.

When UK stadia have hosted NFL matches previously the front rows of seats in the stands have been left empty. This is because the players and staff standing on the touchline during the game would inhibit the view of spectators sat there. At the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the synthetic turf playing surface is laid 1.6 meters below the grass pitch, with the change in height ensuring optimal sightlines for NFL by raising the front row of seats relative to the pitch level. This brings fans closer to the action and creates an unbeatable atmosphere. Pitch markings and logos can be easily changed on the synthetic turf and placed well in advance of any event with minimal disruption to football operations, thus reducing the turnaround time between events.

Other NFL-specific features include:

  • Dedicated locker rooms in the East Stand and the north-west corner of the stadium – separate from the football changing rooms to meet the full requirements of NFL teams
  • Digital wayfinding signage used inside and outside the stadium, enabling event-specific information and branding to be displayed
  • The Tunnel Club on the east side of the stadium – designed to offer fans a behind-the-scenes view of NFL players as they move between the home locker room and the pitch
  • A separate press conference room located adjacent to the NFL home locker room on the east side of the stadium
  • A designated broadcast studio situated within the H Club hospitality area, with the glass walls around the space allowing hospitality guests to watch the broadcast as it takes place
  • Coaches’ boxes created by erecting temporary partitions in a section of the Sky Lounge in the West Stand. Integrated IT and technology facilitates broadcasting, as well as the transfer of data directly to the boxes for use by the coaching staff

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the latest project in Populous’ extensive NFL portfolio that includes numerous stadia and the Super Bowl. In a global collaboration between the London and Americas offices, Populous’ Tottenham Hotspur Stadium allows the NFL to continue to expand its presence internationally, bringing people together and growing the sport’s global fan base.

The 2019 NFL London Games marks 12 years of collaboration between the NFL and the Populous events team, which has seen American football and all its traditions brought to the United Kingdom every year since 2007. To learn more about Tottenham Hotspur Stadium or our event practice, contact us at media@populous.com.


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