As many of you will know, I worked for Spurs for just over a year and the last time I was at the stadium was 1st March 2019, just before it opened. Being born into a Spurs family meant I had no choice but to be a Spurs fan and I knew from a young age there would be no trophy hunting for me. However, the emotions through the years have been amazing since I watched my first game aged 4, which was a friendly at Bournemouth, in 1970!
I returned today to see the two men responsible for looking after the new Stadium, Jon Babbs and Paul May, both of whom are keen golfers playing off what I reckon will be very dodgy 14 handicaps.
When I was at Spurs, the stadium was a building site and I could only imagine what it would be like when it was finished. According to Jon and Paul, the Chairman, Daniel Levy walks the whole concourse with them every Monday, believes it still isn’t finished. The work they have completed during the pandemic, whilst being a maternity hospital, has been phenomenal. All the little details have been improved and fine-tuned with the view of maintaining the stadium to the highest possible standards, by being proactive rather than re-active in their maintenance programme.
The standards the Chairman wants to obtain are extremely high and whilst the guys have found it tough to deliver, they can now truly see the fruits of their hard work beginning to pay off. The fans will love what they see on their return to their seats, let’s hope that it’s matched on the field of play!
As we walked from the pitch side to the changing rooms, I asked the guys what the players thought of the stadium. Obviously, the Spurs players are now used to the amazing facilities and love them, however, the really interesting observation Jon made, was the visiting team’s reaction, especially those from European clubs. When the coach pulls up, they start to get their phones out and take pictures of everything. They then go to the Visitors changing room, drop their bags off and come back out to take more photos. They are truly awe struck by the size and the quality of the facilities and the playing surface.
I couldn’t resist taking a peek in the manager’s office and sitting at the “Gaffer’s” desk. At the time of writing the position was vacant and for a second I dreamt of being the manager, keeping Kane, executing my playing style and winning the Premiership. If only! What I do know, is that the next manager has a very cool office where he (or she!) can enjoy a glass of red with the opposing manager.
Next stop was the control room on the 4th floor, which is where Jon and Paul can be found on match days. 30 people are on duty in this room for the big games, which includes Police, Local government officials, catering representatives, IT and security experts to monitor everything from outside the stadium, through to the seats overlooking the immaculate pitch. There are over 2000 CCTV camaras and they can follow an individual in every area throughout their stay, so you have been warned.
The technology is mind blowing and you feel that big brother is watching, but when you are reminded of the terrible disasters that have occurred at football matches over the years and the lives that have been lost, I believe it is necessary. Spectators can rest assured that their safety is paramount to everyone at the club.
The Stadium is not just a football ground, it’s also an entertainment venue. I got the feeling that Jon & Paul actually liked the American Football matches rather than the Spurs games, as they found it so different in terms of how the crowds react and the fact that they can drink alcohol in their seats. It is very much a party atmosphere and testament to how good the facilities are, is that the NFL’s two games in the UK for 2021 are only being played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
They are also preparing for concerts when they are allowed to return, which will be something very different and the operations team will once again have to learn from how the Lady Gaga fans, or the Guns & Roses fans decide they want to enjoy the facilities.
We continued our journey through the H club and Tunnel Club, where I would have been working, if I had stayed at the club. Two remarkable areas and truly the best I have seen for hospitality at a stadium venue. If I had a favourite, it would be the Tunnel Club, which is so close to the bench you can feel the tension and the nervous energy of the manager and the players.
Inside, the club has a great bar, with a window that looks right out to The Tunnel. The kitchen serves some of the best food and after a Spurs win, I couldn’t think of a better place to be celebrating with friends and family.
As we finished our tour on the 9th floor in Stratus, another lounge with another very different feel ,we reflected on what has been achieved in a relatively short time. Hopefully with the fans returning, this amazing venue will be enjoyed not only by Spurs fans but by everyone who attends an NFL game, a concert, a conference or the everyday tour that starts every 25 minutes from the Spurs shop.
I know I am biased, but if you get the chance go, I promise you will not be disappointed – until next time.