Sports venue and big events: instructions for use

Sport Venues

It’s getting more and more trendy to host big events in sports venue. They offer a number of advantages for the promoter’s image but they also require – by law – prevention interventions.

Olympic or football stadiums or big sports facilities (if a bigger structure is required) are ideal locations for communication events. Charming, rich in glorious history they aren’t attractive only for the sports aficionados and can tempt the Companies. Big enough to host even tens of thousands of people, well connect to the city centres and the highways, they offer dynamic and impressive solutions to every need of those who organize events for large numbers of people. And if that wasn’t enough they are everywhere, even in the countries that don’t have a lot of specialized structures, like Italy. All of this in theory.

What about in practice? Even if all the main stadiums in Italy are now provided with boardrooms or conference rooms, showing that the meeting industry is a desirable field for them as well, it’s necessary to e very careful in using the proper arenas. To accommodate twenty-thirty thousand people or more in a space that is several thousands of metres wide can create serious organizational risks, especially if there’s a fire risk. In this case even the promoting Agency will have to be responsible for the event. There’s only one remedy: prevention. But how to prevent?


The regulatory framework
Only a few knows that the Italian legislation is full of reference both specific (safety norms in big spaces) and generic (safety in general).

Specific Laws

  • Dpr no. 557/1982 on the services of prevention and surveillance against fires
  • Dpr no. 37/1998 and Dm 4/5/98 on the procedures for the prevention of fires

Generic Laws

  • Dm 30/11/83 (terms, general definitions and graphic symbols for the prevention of fires)
  • Law no. 46/1990 on the safety of the facilities with its implementing regulations in the Dpr no. 447/1991
  • Dm 10/3/98 on the general criteria for the prevention of fires

[nb. Dpr: Presidential Decree; Dm: Ministerial Decree]

The regulatory framework creates specific duties for the managers of the facilities (of course!), but also for the clients that organize their events who often are unaware of that and as a consequence more at risk.

Duties of the managers
The company should ask for extensive guarantees to the facility operators on the application of the Dm 03/10/98 (article 5), which requires those charged with the preventive monitoring to:

  • maintain the systems, the devices, the equipments and the other safety measures in state of alert
  • perform checks and maintenance works according to the deadlines recommended by the public safety bodies (fire brigades and police) in the prevention certificates
  • ensure an adequate activity of information and training of the employees about the fire hazards associated with specific activities, prevention and protection measures to be taken in case of crowd and about the precautions offered by the structure.


Duties of the client
Even if the companies entrust the organization of their events to specialized intermediaries, they still have some direct duties, and often they don’t know anything about them. Here’s a list of those obligations to which the companies should keep an eye on:

  • Through the site inspection, they will have to spot the spaces that could be used as a safe place (the so called “quiet areas“) and make and estimate of the number of people that will join the event to have an idea of the correct dimensions of these spaces.
  • The quiet areas will have to be easily recognizable and reachable from anyone, possibly autonomously.
  • The quiet areas will have to be areas close to each other, with a direct access to the stairs and the elevators, in the stairwells or in the atriums that face the corridors.
  • The paths to reach a quiet area should never be more than 30 meter long.
  • A quiet area should have a smoke-proof filter.
  • Even if the event is set in the parterre of the arena (as it happens for big concerts), it’s important to realize or to adapt fire-proof elevators, the only one that the emergency teams will be able to use to succour those in need in a structure with bleachers.

It is also necessary to have easy emergency evacuation plans that could be clearly legible by the teams, that often don’t know the places where they have to intervene. To be aware of these duties and to behave accordingly can avoid serious troubles to the organizing company, if only on the occasion of an authority inspection. It is important to know that the legal also have the criminal responsibility of the organizational defaults. That’s why I advise never to underestimate this aspects.