Messe Hamburg is introducing a new system of grandstands that can be folded up. Hamburg Messe und Congress (HMC) purchased a total of twelve elements, each with 361 seats and a weight of 26 tons, for a unit price of 3.8 million euros. The assembly time for all twelve modules drops to a total of eight hours, compared to five days of assembly and three and a half days of dismantling for conventional grandstands.
With the new grandstands, the trade fair wants to significantly expand its range of events, especially with a view to concerts and other cultural events as well as corporate events. "With the grandstands, we are making an additional interesting offer that increases the possible uses of the halls, which are already very flexible," said Bernd Aufderheide, head of the trade fair, on Thursday. "The grandstands have come at just the right time, because we are currently experiencing a significant change in the event sector - towards large stages, towards more performance."
Combined with additional seating, up to 5,500 seats can be installed within one day with the new grandstands. This offers great potential for concerts in the middle of the city, for example, said Aufderheide, "because we are optimally connected by public transport and can also use the infrastructure of the exhibition center at the same time". Such a capacity also closes the gap to larger venues in Hamburg such as the Barclays Arena.
The foldable grandstands come from a manufacturer in Slovenia. They are moved with specially adapted hydraulic vehicles, explained Steven Eckert, head of the trade fair and exhibition technology department at Hamburg Messe und Congress. "When the grandstands are retracted, we can easily park them against the walls of the hall and use them anywhere on the exhibition grounds if necessary."
Initially, however, they are concentrating on the use in the A halls of the trade fair directly at the television tower. When retracted, the grandstands look like huge wall units. From February to June 2022, the parts were brought to Hamburg in a total of 52 truckloads for a good two months of final assembly.
Aufderheide said the flexible grandstands would be tested for the first time at the Polaris Convention for e-sports and the gaming industry at the end of October. “We will gain experience with the technology over the next few months and will increasingly market it as a result.” The trade fair in Leipzig, for example, has been using flexible grandstands for ten years. From the point of view of the head of the trade fair, the grandstands are also coming at the right time, because face-to-face events are being booked heavily again after the forced break caused by the pandemic. That was shown in September by the world's leading trade fairs SMM for shipbuilding and WindEnergy Hamburg.