Village People: Chris Wearmouth’s Saints Blog

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During last Friday’s ‘Talking Sport’ I got chatting with Phil and Gregg about what happens at Franklin’s Gardens outside the 80 minutes of actual rugby that happens on the pitch.

We’re very fortunate at the Saints to have a natural area within the stadium footprint to turn into a Match Day Village, with loads of different food stalls, a large beer marquee, space for supporters to mingle, and for us to use for pre-match activities such as the Mo Zone which kicked off our Movember fundraising.

In fact, this area meant that we were the first rugby club to be able to introduce a Match Day Village, and as the stadium has grown we’ve had to re-think how best to use the space.

Pretty much every Aviva Premiership club now has its own version of a Match Day Village. Some of them are in the turnstiles, some are outside them, but they are all there to try and make it more of a day out, and not just the match itself.

In this era where sports clubs are competing with all of the other entertainment and leisure offerings that are out there, from the cinema and theme parks to shopping and, well, other sports clubs. We’re all in competition with each other, and when your team happens to not be doing so well on the pitch it is essential that you do as well as you can off it.

Different sports have different approaches. American sports like NFL and baseball have their entertainment spread out, thanks mainly to the extended nature of their games, most of which last over three hours. Meanwhile cricket has condensed the relaxed day into a two-and-a-half hour Twenty20 competition to keep peoples’ attention.

For us this means on-pitch competitions at half-time and live music after the game, as well as a range of bars and rooms.

Yes, I know this reads like an infomercial, but the majority of this has been instigated in the 10 years that I’ve been working full-time at the Saints, showing just how expectations of supporters have changed as to what they want from their day out at the sport.

Chris Wearmouth
Director of Communications
Northampton Saints

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