In this Q&A series, Proleisure Directors, and guests, offer insight into the latest trends and issues affecting the development of world-class sports infrastructure.
This week Directors Jon Stemp, Nick Smith and Ross Thompson talk about the need for specialists in the planning and management of sports infrastructure development.
Why is the demand for specialist sports infrastructure services on the rise?
Jon: People who own sports organisations are often experts in business, they may be experts in football, or rugby, or the particular sport they work in, but very few people are experts in infrastructure and asset development. Most organisations are realising, if they want to be successful, they need to acquire that expertise.
Ross: A specialist sports infrastructure advisor has a detailed understanding of, and practical experience in, operating sports infrastructure. We apply operational thinking from the very beginning of the planning process so that the end result doesn’t just look good, but is functional and fit-for purpose, and has been built in a cost-effective way. Because operational consideration has been applied throughout the design and construction phases, the facility is ready for use, by teams, coaches and administrative staff on the day of completion.
Nick: Clearly athletes’ needs are a major consideration throughout that process. We meet athlete needs first and foremost, and wrap our operational knowledge around that.
Your specialist expertise has been called on for some high-profile projects.
Jon: Manchester City’s a good example. The owners had the vision. They recognised the importance of having the right facilities in the right place and were willing to make a long-term commitment to improving the success of the club. It was Proleisure’s job to help realise that. We were able to play a key role in the growth of the club’s brand value, through our contribution and leadership in the infrastructure part of the business.
Do those working on a smaller scale still require specialist help?
Ross: Even more so. Where money’s tight, there’s no room at all for unnecessary spending or waste. These clubs need people on their side who know where savings can be made, and where there can’t be compromise.
Nick: Function over form remains at the centre of our principles. This allows us to scale a project up or down depending on the needs of the organisation.
Jon: Whether it be super scale projects, or really challenged, small scale, very tight budget projects, we’ve delivered amazing outcomes for each. The secret to that is being humble about the way we work with each organisation. We use lessons learnt over the years but we don’t start a project with a preconceived idea about what an organisation needs. Off-the-shelf solutions don’t breed excellence. We start with a rigorous and deliberate level of inquiry and consultation. We work to understand every granular facet of an organisation, and what every person there does. We develop that information using our functional modelling, create a physical manifestation of the best thinking, and, focusing on efficiency, a physical space that works for everyone who uses it.