Bristol Rovers South Stand development nears completion

The Memorial Stadium, home to English football league club Bristol Rovers FC, is set to open its reconstructed South stand.

The ground is recognised by many as one of England’s most unique, owing to its six-stand design which includes the previously tented South and Southwest stands, and two uncovered sections on the stadium’s Eastern side.

In April 2023, Club President Wael Al Qadi revealed that the tented stands would be merged under one solid-roof structure, not only helping the durability and aesthetics of the stadium, but providing fans with a more accessible football experience.

Presently, the club is poised to open the now-combined stand, releasing photographs on the club’s website that show the successful execution of its design plan.

The fitting out of the stand’s first ever concourse, which will include toilets and other facilities, is ongoing and requires building control sign-off before the club begins test events. A meeting with a Safety Advisory Group will determine whether or not fans can purchase an allocation of tickets.

Completion of these tests will enable the stand to be fully operational.

Known by its supporters as ‘The Mem’, the ground has hosted rugby matches since 1921 and accommodated Rovers’ football exploits since 1996.

However, the club’s tenancy has been fraught by controversy when it comes to upgrading the stadium.

In 2007, Rovers’ announced plans to turn the stadium into an all-seater venue, but the effects of the Global Financial Crisis meant project partners had to pull out of the development plan.

By 2011, the club re-focused its plans to build a new stadium elsewhere, with The Memorial Stadium site to be sold to British supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s.

Yet, the latter pulled out of the deal to develop on The Mem site, a decision that was upheld despite Rovers appealing it via the high court.

The current construction phase has also had hiccups, with planning permission delayed due to residential concerns and continued discussion of constructing a stadium elsewhere; though these plans never came to fruition.

Despite this, the near completion of the South stand is likely to deliver as much relief as it does joy for Rovers’ fans, who will be eager to christen the area whilst the club continues its League One campaign.

Saudi Arabia’s sporting presence strengthens

Saudi Arabia’s continuous growth within its entertainment sector has taken another major stride, with the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) involved in the creation of a futuristic Sports and Entertainment Stadium set to overlook the ever evolving, city of Riyadh.

Named after the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, The Mohammad bin Salman Stadium will hold up to 45,000 spectators.

The QIC enlisted the guidance of globally renowned architecture firm “Populous”, to assist with the conception of the complex stadium. Bold provisions, involving a retractable roof and LED wall, enable the stadium to transition depending on the requirements of the various events, it may host.

Ranging from lightshows, Football Matches, Boxing Events, E-Sport competitions. The question now begs, what Sport can it not host?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has spearheaded the project, determined to guide Qiddiya, to ultimately become the World’s leading district of Sports and Entertainment. While aiming attention at shifting Saudi Arabia’s culture, through the Qiddiya philosophy,” the Power of Play”.

The Power of Play philosophy leverages extensive research showcasing how interactive activity is vital for cognitive development within society. How sport can be a driving force for unification and social cohesion.

The Stadium is another symbol, indicating the Saudi Arabian presence among the world Sport, becoming more ominous. However, what affect will this stadium have on Football? It is no surprise, given the financial competence, how Saudi Arabia continue to set trends within world football. World class players within Europe are beginning to trade continents, chasing more lucrative paydays abroad.

In what mirrors the stadium and its bold ambitions, Saudi Arabia continues to command its voice to be heard, on a global front in relation to their football. They can no longer be ignored. This state-of-the-art stadium is just another aspect of what the country is capable of, in becoming a football powerhouse.

It is beyond exciting to see Saudi Arabia spearhead a renaissance of football within Asia. Let’s see what magical moments can be created at this exciting location.

PepsiCo and Roshn Saudi League collaborate to increase fan base

The Roshn Saudi League (SPL) has confirmed a substantial agreement with PepsiCo, which will benefit both the league and its fans.

According to the terms of the arrangement, PepsiCo’s engagement will last until the completion of the current RSL season and the full 2024/25 campaign. The partnership will see PepsiCo’s well-known brands integrated into various aspects of the league’s operations, with Aquafina serving as the league’s official water partner, Pepsi as the official soft drink partner, Gatorade as the official sports drink partner, and Lay’s as the official potato chips sponsor.

The alliance intends to improve fans’ match day experiences through a series of activations and events that leverage PepsiCo’s global reputation for quality and innovation. This initiative demonstrates the RSL’s commitment to creating unique and entertaining experiences for its devoted fans.

This collaboration with PepsiCo builds on Lay’s current sponsorship of the Saudi Women’s Premier League, consolidating PepsiCo’s position in the Saudi football scene and confirming the company’s commitment to football development at all levels.

Carlo Nohra, Chief Operating Officer of the Roshn Saudi League, explained why the deal would work for both sides.

“We are delighted to welcome PepsiCo into the RSL family as a gold partner,” he said via press release.

“This partnership aligns with our mission to offer fans innovative and engaging experiences. PepsiCo’s commitment to football and its global reputation for quality will undoubtedly enhance our league’s appeal and the overall fan experience.”

Aamer Sheikh, Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Middle East Business Unit added via press release:

“We are thrilled to join hands with The Roshn Saudi League as Gold Sponsors for the season. This partnership signifies a shared commitment of excellence, passion, and the pursuit of victory. Together, we aim to elevate the beautiful game to new heights, delivering unforgettable experiences for fans and fostering a legacy of greatness.”

This partnership with PepsiCo, who are well-known for its strong ties in the sports and entertainment industry, underlines the importance of the league to collaborating with organisations that share a passion for football and its fans.

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