C+S March 2022 Vol. 8 Issue 3 (web)

One of the biggest risks in investing in such large scale stadium projects is uneven cash flow associated with the semi-regular or sporadic usage that comes with hosting these events. Some stadiums are used by local professional clubs throughout the year, but, in other cases, these stadi- ums would host a singular event or a handful of events per year. As a buffer, stadiums are often designed to be multi-use facilities. In Dubai, the Sevens Stadium was constructed in 2008 with a capacity of 44,000 spectators. Since its completion, this stadium hosts an annual stop on the international HSBC Rugby 7s World Series as well as soccer events. While the stadium itself was purpose-built to host this rugby event and boasts eight pitches, it also features other sporting surfaces such as mul- tiple cricket pitches and basketball courts. This allows the stadium to expand its hosting capacity and increase off-season revenue. However, several countries are also aiming their sights even higher, looking to gain international prestige through the ultimate interna- tional athletic competition. As such, Egypt recently announced its bid to host the 2036 Olympics, which would make it the first African nation to host the games. Currently in the process of formalizing and submitting their bid to host the games, Egypt has revealed plans to build a multimillion dollar sports complex in the new administra- tive capital called the Egypt International Olympic City. According to Waleed Abdel-Fattah, Managing Director at Hill International (Africa), much of the infrastructure needed to support the games is already in place through roads and housing. This means that the recent announcement of the Egypt International Olympic City could represent a key final step in Egypt’s bid to host the games. Ogaily and Abdel-Fattah also note that, due to challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increased need to support and facilitate the online submission of documents and thus a significant investment in new IT infrastructure. The result of hosting such large, international sporting competitions is that it introduced the public sector into the region’s sporting venue industry. Ultimately, capital is the biggest factor when it comes to cre - ating stadiums large enough to host not only local fans, but also specta- tors from around the world. According to Akram Ogaily, Executive Consultant for Hill International (Middle East) and Abdel-Fattah, the development of these larger sports venues is dissimilar to the develop- ment of similar projects in other parts of the world. Particularly in the Middle East, amongst the Gulf States, the development plans for these venues are not limited in terms of cost, with the primary goal being to create a prestige facility that “reflect the status and image of the [country].” This also means that, whereas the construction of similar projects in other parts are done in multiple stages over the course of a few years, these projects are usually completed in whole, such as the Asian Games Village Project. Additionally, new building technologies and better materials have led to not only bigger and more visually impressive stadiums, but also better functioning and more comfortable for spectators. BIM is be- ing used extensively during the design and construction phases, which facilitates coordination between the engineering systems that are used

Photo: ©Hill International

by both design consultants and contractors. In terms of systems de- signed to make spectators more comfortable and provide protection from the Sun, many new stadiums in the Middle East are utilizing new air conditioning systems and new movable roofing systems. In Qatar, Al Bayt Stadium recently added a retractable roof ahead of the 2022 FIFAWorld Cup. With a continual increase in the size and scope of venue projects in the Middle East and Africa, there has also been a similarly increasing focus on the infrastructure that supports them. Hosting large interna- tional sporting events comes with a massive influx of visitors, most of whom are short-term visitors who are not familiar with the area. This means that the infrastructure that supports these venues must be easily-accessible for both the local and visiting populations who are working and attending the event. In the view of Ogaily and Abdel- Fattah, the design and construction of this surrounding infrastructure and landscape facilities should be considered equal to the design and construction of the stadium itself, especially when larger projects are being considered. By providing sufficient parking for cars as well as access to public transportation, these projects are not only safer and more accessible, but also consider the best possible urban land uses. Much has changed in the landscape of sporting and venue design dur- ing the last three decades in the Middle East. Whether it’s soccer, ten- nis, racing, rugby, or cricket, more and more international competitions are taking place. All eyes will be on the Middle East this Fall as Qatar hosts the FIFAWorld Cup. At the same time, Egypt will be finalizing its bid to host the 2036 Olympics, hoping to learn and grow from the lessons that are learned from Qatar’s 2022 FIFAWorld Cup and other similar projects throughout the two regions. In time, proper design and maintenance of the facilities being constructed now will afford a steadier revenue stream and provide a centerpiece for future growth and investment.


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