Institution of Structural Engineers to investigate problems highlighted by rock concert at stadium.
The Institution of Structural Engineers has launched a government-backed investigation into stadia design after the Cardiff Millennium Stadium needed to be reinforced for a rock concert.

The move comes after discussions between the DETR, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the institution. A working group set up by the institution will examine the dynamic loading and suitability of cantilevered stands for multipurpose stadia. The group, which includes engineers and designers and is chaired by Professor John Dougill, former chief executive of the professional body, met for the first time on Tuesday.

Dougill played down any link between the setting-up of the group and the Cardiff difficulties. He said: “This isn’t an instant response to Cardiff or any other stadium. Cardiff found a way to deal with the problem of crowds.”

However, a source close to the group said: “Let’s just say the problems at Cardiff have focused attention and concentrated minds in a way they hadn’t been before.”

Dougill said the group included professionals involved in the design and construction of the Cardiff stadium, but said that other stadium designers would be consulted.

The issue of dynamic loading came to the fore when Cardiff City Council raised concerns about whether the cantilevered stands at the stadium could withstand large numbers of rock fans jumping up and down at the same time during a new year’s eve concert headlined by the Manic Street Preachers.

Stadium owner Millennium Stadium reinforced the middle tier with metal props after the council refused to issue a safety certificate. The work is estimated to have cost £300 000.

Dougill said: “This isn’t a parallel exercise into what people are doing in terms of Band-aids to stadia. We are taking a longer-term view to look at getting it right. We want to provide more comprehensive guidance than currently exists. There are gaps in the guidance, and our job is to take the guidance further.”

Dr Susan Doran, manager, technical activities, at the institution, who is also involved with the working group, said: “We expect to look at design issues as well as research and testing methods with the intention of making fresh recommendations.”

The source added that there was a general feeling that the guidance for modern stadia, which require cantilevered stands for improved sight lines, was inadequate.

The source said: “The idea is to address the problem thoroughly. Cardiff has come up with one solution, but a better understanding of dynamic loading on these types of stands is a better way forward.”

A spokesperson for the DETR said the department would be providing technical help to the group.