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With the eyes of the world on London for the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium on 1 June, and at least 80,000 football fans descending on the capital from Spain and Germany, the UK’s events industry once again illustrated why it is the envy of the world, as it staged the UEFA Champions Festival across the city.

Led by Laura Pierce from the Greater London Authority (GLA) in partnership with LS Events, the festival was a hugely complex project involving concerts, family and football-focused activities across Trafalgar Square, Regent Street, Somerset House, Potters Fields Park and the South Bank from 30 May-2 June.

LS Events also produced, programmed and managed two vast fan meeting points, with Borussia Dortmund in Hyde Park at a 20,000-capacity site and Real Madrid at a 13,600-cap area on Victoria Embankment.

Here, LS Events project director Steve Reynolds and operations director Jess Noakes discuss what was involved in the hugely complex operation.

How early did LS Events begin working on this project and what was the first stage?

SR: LS Events were contracted in early September to begin working on the UEFA Champions League Final City Operations in London 2024. Once the project set-up stage was complete, our priority was to meet with UEFA and understand their objectives for the Champions Festival. In terms of the fan meeting points, we immediately started reviewing the feasibility of venue options as well as bringing some of our own suggestions. We then initiated our multi-agency process and set about working with stakeholders to create a suite of event management and safety documents, as well as procuring the many suppliers required for a delivery of this scale.

How closely did you work with the GLA, and who were the key contacts there?

 SR: We have a long-standing and trusted relationship with the GLA, having now delivered a number of complex and major events with them over the last six years including Operation London Bridge, the St Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade and many more. This project required us to work closely with our key contacts in the GLA team including Laura Pierce, Sophie Scowen, Tom Potter and Luke Brew to ensure that the objectives of the project were met along with the stringent safety objectives that came about as a result of The Baroness Casey Review. We also had to work closely with UEFA, the FA and all the multiagency partners such as the Police and Westminster City Council.

How did the plan evolve, and what were the key stages?

SR: As with any project of this size, the plan continued to evolve all the way through the planning process.  LS Events are known for our ‘can do attitude’ so we try to always find solutions to our clients aims and objectives. We had multiple clients on this project including the GLA, The FA, UEFA and their partners – as well as the two finalist clubs.

The UEFA partner activations are of the highest quality and space was a premium. We worked with the partners to get them the best positions ensuring they had everything they needed to build efficiently.

Once the finalists were known, we had a matter of weeks to work with them to design, brand and curate each of the respective fan meeting points that reflected the club colours and identity. We worked with them to source engaging and fun content to set their fans in the best possible vibes prior to them heading off up to Wembley with our bi-lingual stewards on hand to support a positive fan experience. We welcomed more than 80,000 respective Dortmund and Real Madrid fans through the two fan meeting points and both sets of fans were really good natured and well behaved.

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?

SR: As you’d expect, there were many challenges with this project, with seven venues spread across London, in multiple local authorities, combined with the care required to maintain the integrity of the parks and heritage venues we were working in.

From our long-standing experience delivering BST Hyde Park, as well as our proven ability from delivering Operation London Bridge, we have continued to nurture deep and trusted relationships with the multiagency stakeholders across London. This means that when challenges come up then we are able to take them head on and resolve them quickly.

JN: We  built these sites under the constrictions of central London and the timescales of when we could access venues such as Regent Street and Victoria Embankment, main central London arterial roads, which bring huge complexities to the planning.

We closed Regent Street to vehicles with an overnight build and then the same on the de-rig, whilst facilitating all the existing businesses deliveries. Regent Street hasn’t been carfree since before Covid and it’s had significant changes to the layout which makes it very complex. Similarly, the fan meeting point on Victoria Embankment meant an overnight build the night before the event – I cannot express the logistical challenge that we faced here and our site management teams were so impressive to achieve the high quality of the site builds within this timescale.

Accessibility was of the utmost importance to this project and we contracted Attitude is Everything to scrutinise our event plans to ensure they were accessible to all. From viewing platforms to extensive ramp access, we worked with the fabric of London’s streets to ensure our customer’s accessibility journey was not impacted at any stage of their experience.

In Trafalgar Square, we had to work around other events taking place on the weekends prior to, and after our tenancy. There were months of collaborative work with these two sets of event organisers to agree on the sharing of infrastructure to reduce truck movements and mitigate the impact on the square.

Building a football pitch inside Somerset House’s courtyard was no mean feat. We worked collaboratively with the venue, Losberger Deboer and UEFA to plan this structure to meet the requirements for UEFA’s Ultimate Champions Tournament pitch.

What elements are you most pleased with?

JN: There are so many elements to be pleased about. From the incredible feedback we’ve had from the fans and the clubs, the positive feedback from our client, the agencies and stakeholders, the incredibly low number of complaints from businesses and residents (a testament to our strong engagement with them) to the low level of safety and security incidents.  But what pleases me the most is that we stayed true to our values; integrity, trust, communication, can do attitude, respect and excellence. Our team has demonstrated these all the way through this project, doing themselves so proud. This was a proper London takeover and something we all feel privileged to have been part of. We delivered an iconic moment for the GLA. Impactful, meaningful, memorable and on budget.

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Who were the main partners in terms of overlay?

SR: We had more than 100 different suppliers working on this project across the seven venues. As part of our ISO Integrated management system, our detailed procurement process ensures that we transparently procure our supply chain for our clients. We set clear and detailed scopes for our suppliers and work with them to ensure the efficient use of the GLA’s public funds in delivering this high-quality event.

Stewarding – SES, Showsec, G4S, TES

Overlay – Losberger De Boer, Acorn, Original Technical Productions

Screens – ADI

Toilets – PTL, GAP, Fresh Toilets

Power – Pearce Hire, Power Logistics, Lighthouse, The Technical Department

Fencing – Entertee, GAP

Sustainability – A Greener Future

PA – ADI, Adlib, STS

Traffic Management – Road Traffic Solutions (RTS), Carbonite, ETMS

Public Medical – Location Medical Services (LMS)

Public Welfare – TLC Welfare

Fire Safety – Number 8, Oak Valley

Accessibility Consultants – Attitude Is Everything

British Sign Language (BSL) – Performance Interpreting

Radios – National Radio Bank (NRB)

Communications & CCTV – NOBA, Ether Live, Pylon One, Nvents

Waste Management – Nu-group, Ryans Cleaning, Veolia

Crewing – Site and Stage (SAS), Alpha Crew

Who were the key team members at LS?

SR: At its peak, this project saw more than 50 people working in the planning and over 180 people for the delivery across seven venues. The key project team however consisted of Jess and I, assistant operations director Lis Moon, permits & licensing director Beth Smith, commercial director Rob Silver and Izzy Sturrock the project manager. Other key contributors were:

Elliot Forward – venue/project manager (Trafalgar Square)

Cheryl Galbraith – venue/project manager (Regent Street and Southbank)

David Piriz – venue/project manager (Somerset House)

Caroline Rogers – venue/project manager (Potters Fields Park)

Leanne Jones – venue/project manager (Hyde Park)

Ed Butler – venue/project manager (Victoria Embankment)

Jools Butterfield – business and residents Manager

Nick Earp – technical director

Dave Weeks – technical production manager

Kahren Williams – content production manager

Samira Williams ­– branding & overlay manager

Paul Nicholls – technology manager

Kate Ramsey – senior site manager

Josh Kinnersley – site manager (Regent Street)

Huw Ravenscroft – site manager (Trafalgar Square)

Dan Wilson – site manager (Victoria Embankment)

Steff Kenning – site manager (Hyde Park)