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SBD Global/November 8, 2012/Facilities

Twickenham Reopens Saturday As 'The Most-Advanced Rugby Ground In Europe'

England's rugby headquarters, Twickenham stadium, which reopens against Fiji on Saturday, is now "the most-advanced rugby ground in Europe," according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. The Rugby Football Union "wants to turn Twickenham into a 'fortress' by encouraging supporters to adopt the role of 'England 16th man.'" The organization "has hired brass bands to walk with supporters from Twickenham train station to the stadium." It also plans to give away flags, "while two new bars and a women's toilets have already been installed to enhance the supporters' experience." The HD Wi-Fi "will also allow the RFU to increase its communication with supporters via social media such as Twitter and Facebook on match days." RFU Chief Customer Officer Sophie Goldschmidt said, "Going digital has been a big focus for us. It is how we are communicating with our current and new fans." The RFU will also "install new TV screens in all of the stadium’s concourses to allow supporters to watch unique content before, during and post matches." Twickenham "will be the first stadium in Europe to install high-density Wi-Fi, which will be free to use for supporters when the infrastructure is put in place by the end of next season." It will be "unlimited" in capacity, so it will allow supporters to "upload and download significant amounts of data during the match." The RFU has spent £1.2M ($1.9M) installing a new DESSO pitch in June, which head groundsman Keith Kent said that "has made the Twickenham surface the best in the world." The most visible aspect of the first phase of the overhaul on Saturday "will be the installation of the mid-tier LED screens." Twickenham has become the first stadium outside of the U.S. "to use the technology." A new access control "is to be installed to keep pace with rapid developments in ticket technology in the next 18 months." The new system of turnstiles "will allow supporters to gain entry simply by swiping their tickets over a scanner" (TELEGRAPH, 11/7).
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