Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Creating Sport-Led Destinations

Extending the Experience

Mixed-use development adjacent to stadiums and arenas continue to evolve beyond just restaurants, bars and shops. In the push to become economic engines outside of game days, more of the projects are incorporating retail, hotels, offices, apartments, event spaces and medical centres. Here, RLI will take a look at a selection of currently open or soon to launch stadiums around the world as well as highlighting the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Many stadiums nowadays are conceptualised as destinations – for visitors and the neighbourhood, the so-called community stadiums. These stadiums will have to respond to the local needs or else they will never make profit. Stadiums are more than just a place to watch the game. Stadium’s todays are no longer isolated projects but deeply integrated with multiuse urban development models to include hotels, conference centres, retail outlets and entertainment zones.

Unique Stadium Schemes Around the World
Architecture studio Populous has designed a stadium for the American football team Buffalo Bills in New York state, which aims to reimagine historic architecture with modern materials. Due to open in autumn 2026, the venue will be developed by Populous to pay homage to the history, heritage and architecture of the Bills’ home city, Buffalo. Its current design was revealed in new visuals by the studio and centres around a stacked seating bowl, which is designed to “enhance crowd noise” while being intimate and sheltered. Around its edges will be large areas carved out for Buffalo Bills fans, featuring a mix of local food and drink vendors. According to Populous, the stadium’s design is intended to have a contemporary aesthetic and “football-first environment”, while reimagining historic and iconic architecture in Buffalo with modern materials.

New York City Football Club (NYCFC) recently revealed their proposal for a new soccer stadium in Willets Point, Queens that would be totally electric, partly run on green energy and built with recycled materials that conserve water and reduce waste. Sports stadiums are pretty unsustainable places, whether that’s the large amount of water needed for the toilets and field irrigation, the massive concrete parking lots, stadium stands, and roofs that soak up heat, or the fact that all concessions are single-serving plastics and papers. The 25,000-seat stadium would become the first fully electric stadium in Major League Soccer, (MLS) in addition to being the first fully electric professional sports stadium in New York City. In addition to a fully electric stadium which will be privately financed, the Willets Point development project would also deliver a total of 2,500 units of 100 per cent affordable housing at the site, as well as a 650-seat public school, 40,000sq ft of new public open space, retail space and a 250-key hotel.

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The Quzhou Sports Campus in China is the perfect example of the embodiment of this approach of integrating stadiums into urban developments. Designed by MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, has recently broken ground in the historic city of Quzhou, in China’s eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. Spanning almost 700,000sq m, the first and second phase have a total construction area of approximately 340,000sq m and include a stadium of 30,000 seats, gymnasium of 10,000 seats, natatorium of 2,000 seats, national sports complex, outdoor sports venue, science & technology museum, hotel accommodations, youth centre and retail programs. MAD’s design embeds the functions of the sports park within natural forms, creating an earth-art landscape in the centre of the city – a poetic landscape that falls somewhere between that of Earth and Mars.

In Italy, the iconic San Siro in Milan, which was set to be replaced by a Populous-designed stadium, has been saved from demolition because of its “cultural heritage”. Instead, AC Milan and Inter Milan are now reportedly looking for two separate sites for their future stadiums.
Dezeen understands that if the two clubs go their separate ways, Populous would likely work with Inter Milan on the design of its future stadium due to its historical links with the club. The club reportedly plans for its new stadium to be located in the Rozzano area, south of Milan. The proposed stadium could be in place for the 2028/29 season with the local authority already agreeing to a feasibility study into the project. The design will include a 70,000-seat stadium alongside new officers for Inter, a sports centre, a new public park and a museum shop. New transport infrastructure would also be needed.

As for AC Milan, they are said to be planning to build a stadium in San Donato Milanese, where the club has acquired a majority stake in the Sportlifecity company, which holds development rights for the land in the area, according to newspaper The Stadium Business. The objective of the proposal is to generate significant value for the area, which would then benefit from a sustainable and integrated development, thanks to a series of upgrade works. These include the creation of a new “Gate to Milan” to the South, an East-West connection from San Donato to the Chiaravalle Abbey and its parks, easier usability and services for the Parco Sud and orderly access to the possible future site. Aside from the stadium itself, there will be additional space dedicated largely and most notably to sporting activities, with a variety of multifunctional facilities and services set within 235,000sq m of green space.

Champions Park by developer Champions Developments will be a sustainable, self-sufficient “5-10-15 min” mixed-use development located in the suburban area of Warsaw in Poland next door to the state-of-the-art football training centre of the top-tier multi sports club Legia Warsaw. The goal of the development is to create a place where everyone can become the “champion of their life”. Champions Park project is a development of a new “garden city/community”. The Market Square or otherwise called the Downtown is the retail and entertainment centre of the development. It includes the commercial/ lettable areas as well as external public and semi covered spaces. This is intended to be the centre of the development where the placemaking activities such as events, entertainment, retail, F&B, services and others will be located. Phase one is set to open in 2026 and the overall development will also feature a SPA and sports hotel with 120 keys, cover a site area of 230,000sq m and a commercial area of 200,000sq m.

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Meanwhile in Spain, legendary and world-renowned football club Real Madrid CF has played its first game in the remodelled Santiago Bernabéu stadium, which is nearing completion following a revamp by architecture studios L35, Ribas & Ribas and GMP Architecten. Real Madrid returned to the stadium to play fellow Spanish team Getafe on 2 September in the club’s first game since the renovation began. Alongside the addition of a retractable roof and a steel facade, the renovation has seen the addition of a terrace surrounding the stadium on top of the stands and a new pitch removal and storage system. Designed to allow the stadium to be used for large-scale events, the retractable pitch will be housed in six underground levels and feature an underground irrigation system and ultraviolet lighting to maintain the quality of the grass. What was already one of Europe’s most famous grounds has had the most incredible facelift and now it is re-emerging as a modern, multipurpose, state-of-the-art arena that could soon have other big clubs and cities, taking notes. Crucially, it is more than just a football ground. It is a stadium that can host other sports, concerts and entertainment events, creating new revenue streams. There are also new shops, entertainment and leisure facilities on the east and west sides, more green areas and public space, as well as a five-storey underground car park.

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The other football powerhouse in Spain, FC Barcelona, is also working on a massive new stadium project. Their ground, the Camp Nou stadium is undergoing major renovation that includes a roof being added and the stadium’s name being changed to the ‘Spotify Camp Nou’. The renovation will also create more facilities for supporters, including new VIP areas, while the seats inside the stadium will also be bigger after the plans are completed. The new stadium will have ‘sustainability at the DNA of the project’ with solar panels on the new stadium, with geothermal energy and a new water recycling system placed underneath the ground. The club had originally hoped to reopen the stadium in time for their 125th anniversary in 2024, but their return is now expected to come in the 2025-26 season. The Palau Blaugrana, a small stadium used by Barca’s basketball team and ice hockey on site, will be rebuilt and there will also be a hotel. The renovation is part of an 18-acre heritage renovation of the area surrounding the stadium. A new hotel, set of club offices, a parking lot for buses and a pavilion will also be constructed as part of the renovation plans.

Back at home in the UK, Manchester City has won approval to redevelop a stand at its stadium in Manchester, UK, to increase capacity while adding a museum and hotel. Designed by architecture studio Populous, the redevelopment of the Etihad Stadium’s North Stand will increase the venue’s capacity by more than 5,000. The expansion will also include the creation of a large entertainment and hospitality building connected to the stand. Flanking a covered square, it will contain a 400-bed hotel, a museum and a club shop. The current expansion is set to be completed in 2026. It is being built as part of the redevelopment of the Etihad Campus, where Populous is also creating the Co-op Live arena that will open next year.

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Another scheme by Populous that is already open in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is a multi-award-winning new benchmark in global stadium design, offering one of the finest spectator experiences in the world. By incorporating a fully retractable natural turf pitch, it is also the first purpose-built home for the NFL outside the US. The stadium’s general admission concourse hosts more than 60 concessions and three pub-style feature bars. Within the South Stand, the five-storey Market Place atrium provides a lively gathering space for fans pre and post matches. It features street-food inspired food outlets, a microbrewery and a 65-metre bar – the longest in Europe – stretching the full length of the goal line on the pitch. The stadium is the first purpose-built for NFL games outside the US, featuring a retractable natural turf pitch that slides under the South Stand in just 25 minutes, revealing an artificial playing surface. This flexibility enables American football and other events, like concerts, to take place during the football season without affecting the quality of the natural turf pitch. Additionally, purpose-designed NFL locker rooms and other bespoke player, staff and media facilities combine to make the stadium a true home away from home for visiting NFL teams. The construction of the stadium was initiated as the centrepiece of the Northumberland Development Project, intended to be the catalyst for a 20-year regeneration plan for Tottenham.

Experience from previous World Cups, including the most recent in Qatar in 2022, has shown how transformative the tournament can be for a country and region, with the Middle East fast becoming a beacon of sport and stadia. Saudi Arabia’s Sport Ministry is preparing to issue tenders this month for contracts to build sports stadiums as part of its $2.7bn capital projects program. The King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is expected to close in December after the last match between the Saudi Pro League clubs Al-Hilal SFC and the Al-Nassr FC. A ‘LinkedIn Post By Saudi Projects’ stated that the stadium will witness a comprehensive development project aimed at increasing capacity, removing the track, installing 3D screens and developing the external perimeter.

2024 Summer Olympics
The 2024 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad and commonly known as Paris 2024, is a forthcoming international multi-sport event scheduled to take place from 26 July to 11 August 2024. The Games will shine out around the capital of France, from Les Yvelines to Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-et-Marne and Seine-Saint-Denis. At the heart of the project, from the bid phase, Seine-Saint-Denis will be home to the Olympic and Paralympic Village, the Media Village and six sports. The upcoming Games of Paris 2024, located in France’s City of Light, will add to the wonderful legacy of iconic Olympic venues through the use of historic and jaw-dropping venues of their own.

The Stade de France is arguably France’s best-known stadium, renowned for hosting multiple games of the 1998 men’s FIFA World Cup, for which it was originally built. Les Bleus famously won their first world championship in this stadium by beating Brazil 3-0 in the final in front of a crowd of 75,000.

A legendary sports complex, Roland-Garros Stadium has borne witness to some of the greatest moments in tennis history over the 95 years it has hosted the French Open. Named in memory of French aviator Roland Garros, the venue is spread over 12ha and has 18 clay courts, including the Simonne Mathieu and Suzanne Lenglen Courts (which will host tennis events at Paris 2024) and the Philippe Chatrier Court (boxing and tennis).

As one of the most successful footballing nations in history, France is full of exceptional stadiums where legends of the beautiful game have plied their craft and Parc des Princes is another. Designed by architect Roger Taillibert (the man behind Montreal’s Olympic Stadium), the ‘Parc’ was first built in 1972 and has been the home of football club Paris Saint-Germain since 1974.

Stade Vélodrome, one of two Games venues in the city of Marseille for the Games (along with the Marseille Marina, which will stage the sailing events), was a natural choice to stage a portion of the football competition for Paris 2024. Stade Vélodrome has been the home of Marseille’s professional football team (Olympique de Marseille) since its construction in 1937 and has also hosted matches for the French national teams and all of the major competitions organised in France since the first half of the 20th century: the 1938 and 1998 Football World Cups, the 1984 and 2016 European Football Championships and the 2007 Rugby World Cup.