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Interview with Stéphane Pottier, Vice President Development & Services Stadium & Arenas, Lagardère Sports

SVB’s Katie McIntyre caught up with Stéphane Pottier, Vice President Development & Services Stadium & Arenas, at Lagardère Sports & Entertainment to hear his thoughts on the trending topics and emerging technologies affecting the sector.

 

Stéphane, can you start off by telling our readers about yourself, your role at Lagardère Sports and provide details on some of your career highlights to date?

My role at the company, Lagardère Sports & Entertainment, in the stadium and arena department, is to create business opportunities for our entire division. Venue consulting and venue management are part of the DNA of Lagardère Sports & Entertainment, so part of my role is to advise different types of clients (contractors, investors, sports governing bodies, cities, etc.) from feasibility to operation. My duty is also to develop new venues or identify new venues where entities want to be involved as either the operator or owner/operator.

 

In a large group like Lagardère Sports & Entertainment, part of a listed company (€7.1bn turnover), the aim is to a create a sustainable development pathway for the other business units like events development, marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

 

I am actually Vice-President – Development & Services for the Stadium and Arena division and am also acting as Middle East Manager. I have been involved in sport and leisure/entertainment infrastructure projects from feasibility to operation, in conjunction with all the business units of the Lagardère’s sport and entertainment entities, since 2011.

 

Before joining Lagardère Sports in 2011, I spent five years at Colony Capital, a private international real estate investment firm (the former owner of Paris Saint-Germain/PSG) and was in charge of the subsidiary, Stadia Consulting Group, and a leisure project in Paris. I also have track record as a program’s buyer for differents TV channels.

 

Can you describe for us some of the signature projects you have worked on?

I can honestly say that I have truly enjoyed working on all the projects we have been involved with. However, one that significantly marked my path, was the refurbishment of a classified historic building, Piscine Molitor. Originally it was a swimming pool, the destination in Paris 30’. We have rebuilt it, and added a modern 5-star hotel, leisure and spa, bar and restaurant.

 

I also very much liked being part of the Lille Stadium project, which features a hybrid stadium and arena. I think we have been very innovative on this project, breaking the rules of a multipurpose stadium and changing the landscape.

 

I’m proud also to be part of the future of FC Nantes stadium project with HKS/ATSP, where we are developing something quite unique.

 

Arena Aix

 

What kinds of management solutions does Lagardère Sports offer to stadiums and arenas?

We are trying to focus, where we can, on creating added value for the client or for the Lagardère  group. In France, we are more targeted towards entertainment venues or indoor arenas. The business of stadiums is more linked to our capacity to generate revenue for football clubs in sponsorship or hospitality sales.

 

In Europe, we are able to prove our strong commitment with our knowledge of football and venues, examples being Commerzbank Bank Arena in Frankfurt and Groupama Arena in Budapest.

 

Today, we have some 1,700 employees across the divisions, each offering unique people and talents, and through our stadium and arena teams, we can contribute to the success of our solutions. We have a strong Live Entertainment division too, offering events management, marketing and sponsorship teams. All divisions work together cohesively to create added value for our clients and venues too, from market studies to operations.

 

Please describe for us some of your key sports venue and event clients and the suite of services you deliver?

Lagardère Sports offers the full range of services needed for stadium and arena consulting, management, operation and commercialisation – for sport and entertainment venues across the world. Every sport or show needs a stage. We provide consulting services on everything from commercialisation to operations, and manage the technical aspects of stadiums and arenas across the globe.

 

Our approach to stadium and arena solutions spans an entire range of client needs from successfully planning, designing, building, operating and marketing, through to management of technical aspects, such as pitch maintenance and catering, as well as commercialisation, including ticketing and events.

 

We have witnessed a significant evolution within the sector over the last decade, with the fan experience and emerging technologies such as AR/VR on the ascent. How do you see this developing over the next 5-10 years? 

Technology is increasingly present in our daily conversations and the expectations of the fans, but technology should support the basic services: information, interaction with fans, a way to increase the audience of an event, increase the audience for sponsors, etc. The technology should enhance the show, the event and support the fan during their journey.

 

Can you tell us about some of the trending topics, best practices and emerging technologies that you are following? 

We are really focusing on integrating technology at the early stages of a venue development. I’m still convinced that the success in implementing technology is more related to how we create the right content for the fan. For example, we have fantastic giant screens in all stadiums now but they are being used poorly because we aren’t investing enough in the content and creativity. The most important thing from my side, is always to focus on the quality of services we are offering to the users.

 

Stéphane Pottier

 

Many thanks to Stéphane Pottier, Vice President Development & Services Stadium & Arenas, at Lagardère Sports & Entertainment for taking the time to do this interview.

 

Images, courtesy: Lagardère Sports & Entertainment. Main image (top): Bordeaux Arena (Aerienne Mayensa) 

 

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