Bristol City Football Club Supporters Trust

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Build it with soul, and they will come

New stadium survey results

The results of the new stadium survey conducted by the Supporters Trust at the request of the club have now been compiled.  Over 2,800 fans responded and support for the club's plans to build a new stadium was overwhelming, with 94.4% in favour.  "It's also clear from the results that fans in general want a stadium that will help them to produce a cauldron of noise in support of the team, give them a good view from steeply raked stands close to the pitch and have an external appearance unique to the area that makes them prouder than ever to be fans of Bristol City", explains Trust chairman Stuart Rogers.
Atmosphere and character
It came through loud and clear from respondents' own comments at the end of the survey that fans want a stadium that is both visually and acoustically something very special.  Via their comments, many fans pleaded with the club not to build a "soulless generic bowl". 

Steep stands and a unique Bristol feature

Overwhelming support

This desire for atmosphere and character was reflected in strong support both for steep stands (81% in favour) and a unique Bristol feature (90% for) - as visualised in the images here by City fan Mark George (click any of the images to see a much larger version).

Fully enclosed with internal look of 4 stands

Fully enclosed but not a bowl
Over 87% of respondents want the new stadium to be a fully enclosed structure.  However a majority also want it to have the internal look of four stands, with 63% wanting the fronts of the stands straight rather than curved. As for capacity, 95% want this to be at least 30,000.
Replies from all around Ashton Gate
Fans from all four stands at Ashton Gate replied to the survey, with 754 responses coming from fans who said they regularly used the Atyeo, 1,209 from Dolman regulars, 138 from East End regulars and 647 from those normally using the Williams.  130 did not have a 'regular' stand.
Standing on top of the action
Over 85% of respondents want the stands of the new stadium to be at least as close to the pitch as at Ashton Gate (one fan adding "For the love of God don't make the stands too far from the pitch!").  A majority also want provision to be made for an area of safe standing.  Amongst East End respondents support for this was over 81%, while even in the Williams those in favour outnumbered those against.

Close to the pitch with a safe standing area

Red and white seats and a bit wider
68% of respondents would like the seats in the new stadium to be mainly red with some white lettering, while there was also a general desire for seats to be a bit wider and to provide more legroom than at Ashton Gate.  Not surprisingly, this request was made in greatest numbers by fans from the Williams, while the least concerned about legroom were those in the East End - no doubt because they prefer to stand in any case!

Mixed tiers, corner elements & video screen

Variety not bland uniformity
A huge 82% of respondents want the club to avoid building a stadium with a uniform single-tier design. Over 40% favour two tiers at the side with a single-tier stand at one or both of the ends.  Over 91% were keen to have a video screen, while unlike in the picture to the left nearly 77% want the players' tunnel to emerge on the halfway line.

John Atyeo statue
Outside of the ground 80% of respondents support the idea of having a statue of a former player or manager and 57% think this should be of John Atyeo.  There was also strong support from the survey for the inclusion of a club shop, club musuem and an arena as integrated components of the stadium structure.

In terms of surrounding infrastructure, 55% of respondents indicated they would be likely to switch from going to games by car to travelling by train if the stadium site included a dedicated railway station.

Trust recommendation
The Trust submitted a full 54-page analysis of the survey findings, plus an appendix of fans' supplementary comments, to the football club on May 19th.  A few days ago we then circulated the two documents to our own members.  These are now available in full to all fans as PDF downloads (see links below).  The Trust included in the survey report the following recommendation to the football club:

We urge the club and the architects to take to heart the findings of this survey.  The success of the new stadium will no doubt depend in part on the extent to which the fans feel it is ‘their’ stadium and on the degree that they feel their wishes and concerns have been taken into account.  This survey can be the first part of that process and we thank the club both for asking us to coordinate fans’ views and for facilitating the e-mail mailshot to 14,000+ fans.

Clearly a stadium cannot be designed by committee.  Nor has that ever been the intention of this survey.  We hope, however, that the findings of this survey will help to inform the thoughts and plans of the club’s management team and external advisors during the stadium design process.

We would urge, in particular, that huge attention is paid to the general character of the stadium and that every effort is made to ensure that both visually and acoustically it is something very special.  It is clear from this survey that fans in general want a stadium that will help them to produce a cauldron of noise in support of the team, give them a good view from steeply raked stands close to the pitch and have an external appearance unique to the area that makes them prouder than ever to be fans of Bristol City.

If the political mood changes sufficiently in the interim, it is clear that a majority would also like the inclusion of an area of safe standing. If the will is there, Bristol City is now in an ideal position to pioneer the first safe-standing stadium in the UK.  Failing this, we would urge that thought is at least given to this at the design stage, so that an area of the ground could be retrospectively adapted for this purpose were such areas to be given the green light at a later date.

Outside of the stadium, we would urge the club and site developers to investigate fully the possibility of an on-site railway station, as it is clear that this would be well used.

Appended to this report is a document containing all of the additional comments made by fans at the end of the survey.  While the facts and figures of this report provide some very useful information, we would also urge the club’s managers and external advisors to read through every one of these additional comments to get a true flavour of the fans’ wishes and – more importantly – their concerns.  The word that crops up perhaps more than any other in that document when it comes to concerns is ‘soulless’.  We would urge the club and the architects to avoid at all costs producing a stadium of this nature for City and instead to create a new home for the team and the fans that is bursting with character, atmosphere and soul.

PDF downloads - Read the reports in full
Download the survey report and appendix of fans' comments

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Paul Cheesley
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