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Concourses are a circulation area providing access to and from viewing accommodation.

The concourse is the circulation area that provides direct access to and from viewing accommodation, access to refreshments and toilets, and may also be part of the ingress and egress systems of the ground.

A concourse is defined as an area, covered or uncovered, that:

  • provides direct access to and from viewing accommodation, via stairways, ramps, vomitories, or level passageways, and
  • serves as a milling area for spectators for the purposes of refreshment and entertainment, and/or provides access to toilet facilities, and
  • may also form part of the ingress and egress systems of the ground.

A hospitality area that does not form part of the ingress or egress systems of the ground – for example a self-contained lounge to which entry is restricted – should not be considered a concourse.

In addition to offering space for milling, concourses form an integral part of the circulation system of sports grounds, and often provide access to amenities provided for the comfort and enjoyment of spectators.

As such, it is important for management to monitor and manage concourses at all times throughout an event, and to have in place strategies to address the varying levels of crowd density that might occur, especially at times of peak usage.

This is a particular concern at grounds where concourses, originally designed for general circulation only, have been retro-fitted with amenities that add considerably to the concourses’ usage during peak times.

The design of concourse areas is determined by a number of factors. However, in the context of circulation, safety and amenity, the issues to be considered include:

  • Concourse areas should be clearly defined and free from obstruction.
  • There should be clear wayfinding and signage, facing both lateral and transverse directions so that people entering the concourse from any ingress point or vomitory are able to make quick decisions as to which direction to take, in order to reach their intended destination.
  • Amenities, such as toilets, catering and commercial outlets, should be distributed evenly, and, wherever possible, not adjacent to ingress points.
  • Attention should also be given to the positioning of toilets for disabled spectators, so that access to them is not impeded by queues for other facilities within the concourse.
  • Where concourses form part of an emergency exit route they should be designed as areas of low fire risk.
  • Wherever possible, natural lighting should be maximised in order to assist in the flow of people towards exits, and to create a more comfortable environment.
  • Concourse flooring should be slip-resistant, particularly in areas where spillage is likely (for example, around catering outlets), and in areas where rainwater can be tracked in from vomitories and external areas.
  • Walls and barriers within a concourse that form part of an exit route, or that are subject to crowd loading – such as segregation barriers or walls, doorways, corridor walls, or barriers constraining a space – should be designed to withstand appropriate loadings.

Clearly at most sports grounds it is neither practicable nor possible to provide concourse areas large enough to safely accommodate every spectator. Also, the number of spectators using or passing through a concourse at any one time will vary considerably during an event. It is therefore important that management monitors concourses at all times throughout the event, and is able to respond to the varying levels of crowd density that are likely to occur, especially at times of peak usage, such as half-time in a football match.

In order to do this effectively it will be necessary for the management to develop an understanding of how crowd density levels can vary in different circumstances.

By close monitoring and observation of the concourse during an event it should also be possible to establish what levels of crowd density might be safe and appropriate for the type of event in question, and for the profile of spectators in attendance.

As a guide to how large concourses need to be in order to be safe and comfortable, whilst also facilitating clear circulation for all people present – including stewards and staff – management should gather the following information:

  • What is the total available floor area of the concourse for milling, queuing and circulation, excluding vomitories and entrances to vomitories, landings and stairs, toilets and any fixtures, kiosks or temporary installations?
  • What is the capacity of the area or areas of viewing accommodation that the concourse most directly serves?
  • What is the occupancy (expressed as a total, or as a percentage of the capacity) of that concourse during peak times? This occupancy level will be influenced by: the type of sport or event being staged, and specifically the duration and frequency of breaks during that event, the number and quality of facilities available, and the extent of shelter offered by the concourse in adverse weather conditions.

Reducing slip hazards on concourses

The flooring of concourses should be easily cleaned and slip-resistant. Where a risk assessment indicates that there is likely to be a wet or dry contamination on any internal or external floor surface it is recommended that a suitable non-slip surface is provided.

A number of resources from other organisations are available which provide advice on assessing and reducing risks related to slips:

Safety management

Other concourse safety management issues to consider are:


In addition to ensuring that sufficient stewards are deployed on concourses, it is recommended that stewards are trained specifically to recognise and deal with the range of problems most likely to occur on concourses; for example, managing queues and avoiding congestion in key areas, such as around vomitories and stairways.

CCTV coverage

Closed circuit television cameras, particularly if positioned at high level, provide a useful overview of concourses, and enable the management to direct stewards on the ground to any incidents.

Monitors and screens

Generally the provision of screens relaying broadcast or other media content will result in a rise in the number of spectators using the concourse, and also an increase in the length of time that spectators remain on the concourse.

Designers and the ground management should undertake a risk assessment to ensure that the concourse is sufficiently large to accommodate those additional numbers. They should also ensure that the screens – plus any other forms of entertainment or activities that attract spectators – are located and managed in such a way that overcrowding does not occur, and that circulation and access routes are not obstructed.

Servicing, cleaning and litter collection

The design and planning of concourses, whether new or for refurbishment, should take into account the service needs of all amenities, and the location and design of litter bins.

Safety stations

Management should consider the provision of a safety station on each concourse. A safety station is an area containing emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, a fire blanket and a loud hailer, along with an emergency or key point telephone, and contact details for the first aid or medical room.


Management should draw up a clear policy on smoking and e-smoking, and if appropriate, create an area either within, or beyond the concourse, where smokers may gather (making sure that entry to, and exit from this area, is, if necessary, controlled or stewarded).

Use of external areas as concourses

At some sports grounds it is the practice to accommodate smokers, or to provide additional amenities, in external areas (that is, beyond the concourse or even outside the perimeter of the ground). In such instances management should ensure that ingress and egress to these areas is strictly controlled, to prevent spectators from other parts of the sports ground from entering a different area of spectator accommodation, and to prevent members of the public gaining unauthorised entry.

Further information on concourses in Concourses document and Green Guide.