Vibrations induced by football fans on stadia grandstands

Sports stadia play host to large, lively crowds of people and, in order to accommodate the maximum capacity, frequently incorporate long, flexible, cantilevered grandstands. These are designed to be column-free in order to provide spectators with an uninterrupted view, which has led to designers using structures more susceptible to dynamic crowd loading.

As a result of the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, Premier League football stadia must only accommodate seated spectators. In recent years, football supporters and some professional football clubs have solicited the reintroduction of standing areas.

A series of laboratory tests investigate how the introduction of safe standing areas to increase capacity in football stadia will impact the dynamic loading. A series of actions were identified that represent common actions performed by seated and standing spectators causing the largest dynamic loading. These actions were reproduced in dynamic laboratory over the floor structure.

Sports stadia test photo 3    Sports stadia test photo 4

In order to represent the proposed increase in capacity that is facilitated by the installation of safe standing areas, the standing tests used a larger number of subjects than the seated ones (5 instead of 3), placed in the same area. To best recreate the feeling of being in an actual stadium, the actions were performed in response to visual and aural stimuli from video footage of goals being scored in football matches.

Data on the motion of each person was collected using wireless sensors and the response of the floor was measured using wired accelerometers. The wireless sensors indirectly estimated the force exerted by each person. Preliminary results show that, for lively crowd actions, the introduction of safe standing areas could cause an increase in the dynamic response, but for less lively crowds, a likely decrease.

Sports stadia plot 1

Dynamic forces (blue) measured by APDM Opal™ placed on sternum for seated and standing tests, and total weight of people (red)

Sports stadia plot 2

Maximum structural responses as a function of dynamic force peaks (Sternum model) for seated (left) and standing (right) tests

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