The U.K has one of the biggest fan bases for Strongman in the world. Alongside this, it has produced 2 recent WSM winners in Scotland’s Tom Stoltman and England’s Eddie Hall as well as veterans of the strongman scene who have collectively had countless WSM appearances in athletes like Mark Felix, Laurence Shahlaei and Terry Hollands. Yet despite this, it has never been held in the U.K!
But why does this mean it should be held here?
Being such a popular sport in the U.K a huge competition such as this could draw crowds that potentially the sport hasn’t seen before. Now I know that typically the competition is held in a visually pleasing setting such as the sandy beach in Bradenton, Florida for the stone-off a few years back but with the more industrial feel to the WSM 2020 – doesn’t this prove that the fans will accept something different?
Why not pack out a big stadium in England and take more on the gates (whilst keeping prices reasonable) to help give more back to the athletes? Of course I’m not suggesting the full 90 thousand at Wembley. Although if it were doable in the future then why not but right now is the time for conservative ambition. An arena like the O2 would be ideal. 20,000 capacity, very achievable and would make for a great venue with good travel links for fans too.
After a few years of uncertainty and a lack of live shows, surely there’s always room for a change in the format to help bring some well-needed revenue to the sport.
How it could work
I assume the scheduling of the contest is a big reason as to why it is always a small crowd of passers by watching each year rather than an arena. Here’s how it can work :
Firstly, sell the tickets being valid for everyday of the comp in the first wave of sales. Once you know your capacities, sell day tickets if needed (which I don’t think it would be if for example the O2 was used).
- Day 1 – Events 1 and 2 and 3
- Day 2 – Events 4 and 5
- Day 3 – Rest
- Day 4 – Final events 1 – 3
- Day 5 – Final events 4 – 6
I know that WSM tend to switch up one or two events for the heats but I have never been a huge fan of this personally and think all athletes should be doing the same events to avoid any advantage based on events that maybe an athlete is better or worse at.
Of course, I am not a competitor and haven’t experienced the pressures and exhaustion these competitions provide but this does follow a fairly similar structure to how it is already being done currently just inside an arena. The arena factor also would not take away from it being great for TV either, in my opinion. There may be tweaks to this scheduling but it’s almost definitely doable.
If the U.K is the issue then I’d be genuinely interested to see why. If so, then this arena idea can be replicated in another country and be just as successful and beneficial for the athletes. This wouldn’t be to completely take away from the classic way WSM has been held and shot as a TV show, but for a change every few years it definitely would be an interesting idea.
If the arena is the issue then the U.K still has brilliantly scenic settings to use such as when Europe’s came to Leeds in 2020. Although the weather can be unreliable at times so holding it at the peak of summer would be absolutely paramount.