Look around Emirates Stadium and maybe, just maybe, one or two little things will strike you as being different. That’s because the process of ‘Arsenalisation’ – turning the Gunners’ home into a very visible stronghold of all things Arsenal through a variety of artistic and creative means – is well and truly underway, with some exciting and sometimes truly extraordinary effects coming your way.
Among the new features will be 12 ‘Greatest Moments’ walls around the lower concourse, including quotations or commentary around a truly iconic moment in the Gunners’ history along with pertinent images and numbering. These have been selected through a poll on Arsenal.com, and will depict:
- 25 – The Herbert Chapman era
- 71 – The ‘double’
- 89 – Winning the title at Anfield
- 94 – Winning the Cup Winners’ Cup
- 95 – Dennis Bergkamp signing for Arsenal
- 96 – Arsène Wenger appointed manager
- 97 – Ian Wright breaks Cliff Bastin’s goalscoring record
- 98 – First ‘double’ under Arsène Wenger
- 02 – Another ‘double’
- 04 – Arsenal winning the league and remaining unbeaten
- 05 – Thierry Henry breaking the Club’s goalscoring record
- 49 – Unbeaten run by the ‘Invincibles’
This is just one of a whole range of installations and visuals that you’ll see springing up in the coming weeks. There will be pictures and displays celebrating the Gunners’ exploits in Europe, the Club’s managers, its hat-trick heroes, and a special players’ signing wall – among much more.
You’ll also notice the pattern of a cannon displayed among some of the seats inside the ground – and a magnificent, mould-breaking ‘Highbury Shrine’ will be coming this way very soon too. It is also hoped that images will also be mounted on eight ‘cores’ around the outside of stadium – subject to planning permission – leading to the cumulative effect of 32 Arsenal Legends ‘embracing’ the stadium and the fans.
Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, who has been involved at the heart of this process, spoke to the matchday programme to tell us more about the intentions behind, and the hoped-for effects of, Arsenalisation.
“It’s important to recognise that our fans are at the centre of the Club, and that the supporters who attend our games have a right to have their say about the environment in which they watch those games. Listening to our fans, we were hearing a consistent message that, while Emirates is a superb modern stadium, they want us to make it more of a home. Ultimately it’s our fans’ house, so we’ve listened to that and taken steps over the last months to engage them in a process of discussion about what these ideas should be - and then to implement as many of them as we can early on in the new season.
“I’m really excited about all the elements of Arsenalisation. As they come together and you begin to see the vision realised, it’s going to have a tremendous impact. The lower concourse is going to be transformed, and for the fans who attend that area it will make a fairly dramatic impact on their matchday experience. Additionally, I think the Highbury Shrine is one of the most sensational pieces of creative artwork that I’ve seen and it will be very impactful – while the cumulative impact of the players ‘embracing’ the stadium will be dramatic when all eight cores are covered.
“You’ll already notice the cannon logo that will be formed by the seats in the lower level opposite the tunnel. This ensures that we’ll have something inside the stadium itself stating very clearly that this is Arsenal’s home in a way that is consistent with the values of the Club. It’s understated but confident. All of these things are done with a view to recognising the history, the tradition and the values of the Club – but also providing a new, forward-looking vision and visual style to the stadium. Our rich tradition, coupled with vision, has always been a part of Arsenal.
“There will be more changes to come. It’s important to understand that this is a first phase – there are other things that we think are great ideas, like moving away from the idea of ‘Quadrants’ and instigating a more ‘human’ naming of the various parts of the stadium, along with relocating the clock to the inside of the stadium. Some of those things have not been practical to implement for this year, for various reasons, but we still have them very much on our radar screen for the future.
“We’re also going to be spending time learning more about the mechanics of the stadium and ways in which we can improve the fan experience in all aspects, not only visually.
“We have been working hard on Arsenalisation for the last couple of months, and will be phasing changes in over the first two or three home games - and I think that’ll be quite exciting, because each time you come back to the stadium there’ll be something new to experience. I hope all supporters enjoy the new developments as much as we have enjoyed putting them together.”Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source