Old Trafford Stadium

Old Trafford Stadium

Kohler and Manchester United join forces with the shared vision of memorable stadium experiences.

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It’s one of the most iconic stadiums in world football. Sir Bobby Charlton christened it the “Theatre of Dreams.” It was rebuilt after WWII bombing raids in 1941 nearly destroyed it. For more than 100 years, it has served as home to the most successful club in Premier League history and the world’s most recognizable sports team—Manchester United.

Manchester United

Kohler is the first-ever shirt sleeve sponsor for Manchester United. Above is a look at the first-team changing rooms at Old Trafford Stadium

Old Trafford stadium first opened its doors on February 19, 1910, when it hosted its inaugural match between Manchester United and Liverpool. The following century put Old Trafford’s mettle to the test with hard-fought Red Devils matches and maximum-capacity crowds, eventually leading to several expansions, rebuilds, reconfigurations and upgrades over the decades. At its current capacity of up to 75,000, it is the largest club soccer stadium in the United Kingdom.

The demand of today’s sporting events, however, isn’t just about capacity. Keeping pace with vast crowds, high-profile attendees and world-class athletes requires modern facilities and the latest technology. Rising to challenges like these requires commitment and the right strategic partnerships to help carry it out.

These mission-driven values led Manchester United to establish a multi-year partnership with another global leader: Kohler Co. A pioneer in the design and innovation of kitchen and bath products and one of the largest manufacturers of power systems in the world, Kohler is the first-ever shirt sleeve sponsor for Manchester United. As of the 2018/19 season, the company’s logo appears on the team’s home, away and third jerseys.

“We selected Kohler as a partner for many reasons. Not only are they number one in their industry, creating innovative, premium and high-quality products, they also share many of the same values as the club,” says Sean Jefferson, Manchester United Director of Partnerships. “The way they work and our shared views on diversity and inclusion, as well as giving back to our global community, allow us to work in sync.”

Old Trafford Stadium
Old Trafford Stadium

Teaming Up

In many ways, a partnership between Manchester United and Kohler makes perfect sense. The organizations share a number of cultural similarities and core values: both have deep legacies dating back to the late 1800s; both are best-in-class, innovative global brands in their respective arenas; both are committed to a common vision of making a positive impact on the world.

Beyond the KOHLER logo emblazoned on the sleeves of players, another outward sign of the partnership and its impact can be seen in Old Trafford itself: a stadium improvement project that launched in 2018 to provide fans and professional soccer players alike with the kind of unrivaled sporting event experiences one would expect from an iconic club, like Manchester United. And to support vital elements of this project, they had the best possible collaborator already on hand in the team’s new strategic partner, Kohler.

“The areas in which KOHLER products were to be installed varied, but it was important that we offered all end users the best possible experience,” says Head of Manchester United’s Group Property Services, Gary Hebblewhite. “Kohler’s expertise and vast range of products meant they were able to advise and offer the right products for this project.”

The project, which will proceed in several planned phases, began with upgrades to the first team men’s changing rooms and two of the hospitality suites in the summer of 2018, followed by refurbishments of other hospitality restrooms around the stadium during the off-season over the next five years.

For the Red Devil’s changing rooms, Kohler outfitted the athletes with the latest in restroom design and technology from its own product lines and those of its subsidiaries, Rada and Mira. In the cubicles, KOHLER Veil™ rimless wall-hung toilets are crafted from vitreous china, with a durable yet stylish design that speaks volumes of elegance. Rada Outlook touchless faucets offer clean, concealed design and simple, touchless functionality for washing. And the changing room’s most luxurious upgrade can be found in the Mira Mode digital shower valve technology, which provides a precise, personalized showering experience at the push of a button, with digital temperature control and minimalist styling.

The successful design of any interior space hinges on aesthetic and functional details—details that coalesce to create an environment that promotes the physical and emotional well-being of the people within it. When those people are world-class athletes, the performance demands of the space become ever more important.

The design and functionality of the KOHLER products in the first team changing room contribute to an environment that helps players remain focused before match play and allows them to unwind in luxury after 90-plus grueling minutes of soccer have elapsed.

Residing a couple of stadium levels up are Old Trafford’s hospitality suites, of which there are 21 in total. Two of those suites—1878 Suite and the Ambassadors’ Lounge—received makeovers with KOHLER Veil toilets, as well as KOHLER Composed faucets (1878 Suite) and KOHLER Aleo™ faucets (Ambassadors’ Lounge), both offering artful design and simple functionality. The goal is to delight guests and provide them with the luxury of an elevated matchday experience at every touch.

Old Trafford Stadium

The first team changing room showers were upgraded with Veil rimless wall-hung toilets.

Efficiency and Craftsmanship

Because of the stadium’s high activity during the football season, facility projects of this nature generally occur in the off-seasons between May and August, and bathroom refurbishment would typically require roughly an eight-week turnaround time, from specification to completion.

Because of these timescales, the Kohler team found themselves with a mere three weeks in the 2018 off-season to complete for all three areas. Kohler Co., like its products, is known for reliability, dependability and rising to high-demand performance. And the Old Trafford redesigns were no exception—Kohler executed the project flawlessly and on schedule, ensuring Manchester United players and fans would have the latest in stadium comforts by the first second of match play in the 2018/19 season.

“Any work we undertake at Old Trafford has to be meticulously planned,” Hebblewhite explains. “Given the tight time frames we have to complete any changes, there is no room for error. Kohler was exceptional at meeting deadlines and using their knowledge to ensure the job was completed efficiently whilst still meeting their high standards of craftsmanship.”

The initial success of the partnership is a testament to the forward-looking vision and commitment to high-level execution these two brands share. And it’s a sign that their collaboration will yield unique professional soccer experiences for years to come.

Old Trafford Stadium
Old Trafford Stadium

Featured KOHLER Products

The following is a sample of Kohler products used during the Old Trafford stadium redesign project.