The Legacy of Sta­di­ums

Be­yond World Cup 2022

Qatar Today - - FRONT PAGE - BY SINDHU NAIR

With crit­i­cism and neg­a­tive me­dia cov­er­age rife on Qatar and its su­per­flu­ous “foot­ball dreams”, the real pic­ture is of­ten for­got­ten. That the Gulf pop­u­la­tion has a pas­sion for the game has be­come ir­rel­e­vant; what seems more im­per­a­tive is its lack of soc­cer ex­cel­lence, and that “its record of pro­duc­ing pre­mier ath­letes in any sport is sparse”.

Does that make foot­ball a game to be played and en­joyed only by the West while coun­tries in the Mid­dle East ac­cept their loss and be de­nied a fair chance at host­ing and even dream­ing of ever play­ing the game be­cause its na­tion­als are but a small per­cent­age of its al­ready tiny pop­u­la­tion? And we all thought that the best global es­pousals are those that bring coun­tries to­gether in a spirit of sports­man­ship. While the ques­tion of Qatar host­ing the World Cup in 2022 is

still be­ing re­assessed, for the bribery al­le­ga­tion that shrouds FIFA's de­ci­sion, we go ahead and con­tem­plate on the world sta­di­ums that will be built, the chal­lenges the coun­try has to over­come to fi­nally com­plete its mam­moth in­fra­struc­ture up­dates for the games and be­yond, wrap­ping up with the fu­ture of sta­di­ums in gen­eral.

In the World Sta­dium Congress held in Doha a few weeks back, the CEO of ASTAD Project Man­age­ment, Ali Bin Nasser Al Khal­ifa had strongly stated that “the coun­try had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ful­fil, not just to be ac­count­able but also to send a strong mes­sage that we are re­spon­si­ble enough”. He said that sta­di­ums are dif­fi­cult build­ings to con­struct; large dead in­vest­ments to build and main­tain when com­pared to their us­age and rev­enue gen­er­a­tion. The chal­lenge for sta­di­ums world­wide was to make it rel­e­vant much be­yond the event it was host­ing.

“To have a busi­ness plan ahead so that there is sus­tain­abil­ity in the us­age of the build­ing is vi­tal,” he said. “The FIFA World Cup 2022 is not only an im­por­tant global event; it also rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide a long-term legacy within the built en­vi­ron­ment, the sport­ing com­mu­nity and the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.”

The Arena Fonte Nova in Brazil that hosted many matches dur­ing the FIFA 2014 World Cup is a pub­lic-pri­vate joint ven­ture and the com­plex also houses a panoramic res­tau­rant, mu­seum of foot­ball, car parks, shops, ho­tels and a con­cert hall; a per­fect ex­am­ple of tak­ing the sta­dium be­yond its ba­sic need.

Diogo Taddei, Ar­chi­tec­ture Man­ager, AECOM Global Sports Group was one of FIFA's Sta­dium Tech­nol­ogy Con­sul­tants for the Brazil 2014 World Cup and he speaks of how legacy was vi­tal to the devel­op­ment of Rio from the out­set. “Our vast ex­pe­ri­ence in the Olympics and mega events meant we had a clear un­der­stand­ing of the games' re­quire­ments but were a lit­tle less clear on the legacy for the city of Rio,” says Taddei. “There­fore, we be­gan by get­ting an un­der­stand­ing of the gaps be­tween both the game and legacy modes and try­ing to pro­vide tem­po­rary cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions of the ac­tual games.”

He feels that Qatar should also seek its legacy plan­ning first in order to un­der­stand what else needs to be done for the 2022 Games and the longer-term use for the sites.

“We look at the 2030 Vi­sion as a man­date, and the 2022 World Cup has be­come an ac­cel­er­at­ing fac­tor to de­liver that. We know that Qatar is de­liv­er­ing a huge amount of highly com­plex projects to a dead­line that has never been at­tempted be­fore.”

ALI BIN NASSER AL KHAL­IFA CEO ASTAD Project Man­age­ment

“It wasn't un­til re­cently that plan­ners, en­trepreneurs, clubs, sta­dium own­ers and op­er­a­tors be­gan to think of the sta­dium as a “player” with an im­por­tant role in the lo­cal com­mu­nity and vicin­ity.”

DIOGO TADDEI Ar­chi­tec­ture Man­ager, AECOM Global Sports Group

The ul­ti­mate chal­lenge is how to re­duce the eco­log­i­cal foot­print for the venue as a whole. It is there­fore im­por­tant to take a holis­tic ap­proach to sus­tain­abil­ity when de­vel­op­ing the sta­dium. “This ap­proach should con­sider not just the de­sign and con­struc­tion of the venue but also its op­er­a­tions, and in­cor­po­rate ways to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions dur­ing a tour­na­ment or other event,” says Taddei.

Qatar is also giv­ing due con­sid­er­a­tion to legacy and Taddei points to Al Wakrah sta­dium cur­rently be­ing de­signed by AECOM in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Zaha Ha­did Ar­chi­tects. He says, “Through­out the de­sign, its long-term legacy was of the ut­most im­por­tance,” he says.

Af­ter the World Cup, the sta­dium will be re­duced from 40,000 to 20,000 spec­ta­tors seat­ing. The east and west up­per stands of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­di­tional func­tional uses such as hos­pi­tal­ity or con­ven­tion fa­cil­i­ties to the wider com­mu­nity. A wide range of com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties will be avail­able with ev­ery­day us­age in ad­di­tion to event days at the sta­dium, these in­clude mosque, school, ho­tel, wed­ding hall, vo­ca­tional train­ing cen­tre and re­tail space. A range of var­ied new parks and land­scape spa­ces will be pro­vided as part of the over­all mas­ter plan. The new parks will pro­vide a range of out­door recre­ational spa­ces for ev­ery­day us­age.

Ac­cord­ing to Taddei, Qatar has the ad­van­tage of start­ing from scratch so it is able to ap­ply best prac­tice gained from ex­pe­ri­ence in past events to en­sure that both the venues and the event it­self is a suc­cess.

While min­imis­ing the car­bon foot­print and en­ergy con­sump­tion is cer­tainly in vogue there is another as­pect to which Taddei draws our at­ten­tion to – the ur­ban role of sta­di­ums. “It wasn't un­til re­cently that plan­ners, en­trepreneurs, clubs, sta­dium own­ers and op­er­a­tors be­gan to think of the sta­dium as a “player” with an im­por­tant role in the lo­cal com­mu­nity and vicin­ity,” he says.

Sta­dia are now be­ing used as a cat­a­lyst for ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion of derelict ar­eas and fo­ment­ing the devel­op­ment of lo­cal economies. “The sta­dium has there­fore taken on other ac­tiv­i­ties out­side of its pri­mary pur­pose by host­ing other events, not nec­es­sar­ily sports, and in­creas­ing its use year round,” says Taddei.

Project man­age­ment rules

ASTAD project man­age­ment which over­sees 163 projects with a com­bined value of QR126 bil­lion, ($34.6 bil­lion) will be piv­otal in man­ag­ing the con­struc­tion process of many im­por­tant sta­di­ums within Qatar.

“Look­ing for­ward, the Lu­sail and Al Saad Mul­ti­pur­pose Halls are an ex­cit­ing chal­lenge for us,” says Al Khal­ifa, “Qatar will have the hon­our of hold­ing the In­ter­na­tional Hand­ball Cham­pi­onship in 2015 in Jan­uary. For that, Qatar has started the con­struc­tion of three main sports halls and ASTAD is build­ing the largest and most so­phis­ti­cated of these halls which are at Lu­sail and Al Saad.”

ASTAD is also cur­rently man­ag­ing the Health & Well­ness Sta­dium, a World Cup venue at Ed­u­ca­tion City. The sta­dium will re­flect the three pil­lars of ed­u­ca­tion, science and re­search, and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment. The sta­dium is de­signed to be a lively fo­cal point for staff and stu­dents

as well as their main sports fa­cil­ity, hous­ing class­rooms, of­fices, con­fer­ence rooms, health clubs and spa­ces cater­ing for a va­ri­ety of sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

“As a sports fa­cil­ity, it also pro­motes health in the Ed­u­ca­tion City com­mu­nity. This will con­trib­ute to a health­ier so­ci­ety and a health­ier Qatar,” he says.

Chal­lenges are not unique

Taddei agrees that the weather con­di­tions in the Mid­dle East are a con­cern. He says, “If the World Cup is played in summer it will be a chal­lenge for the event. If the World Cup is played in win­ter, the chal­lenge is set for legacy. Re­gard­less of the time when the tour­na­ment is held, the is­sue of user and spec­ta­tor com­fort is very im­por­tant but it's not a chal­lenge that's unique to the Mid­dle East. For ex­am­ple, very cold re­gions must ad­dress vis­i­tor com­fort in the freez­ing win­ter months.”

Closer to the event, when all the re­sources come to­gether for the fin­ish­ing stages of sta­di­ums, roadwork and rail work, the chal­lenges will be multi-fold. Al Khal­ifa says, “We are not the first emerg­ing na­tion to hold such a large-scale event and we will be util­is­ing all avail­able re­sources to en­able us to han­dle the vol­ume of ma­te­ri­als and work­ers. We are com­mit­ted to do­ing this in the most ef­fi­cient way pos­si­ble for the ben­e­fit of our na­tion.”

One fact that the in­ter­na­tional me­dia gets wrong is that the devel­op­ment and “the more than QR728 bil­lion ($200 bil­lion)” of in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment is all for the 2022 World Cup. Even be­fore the coun­try started dream­ing of the World Cup, a group of plan­ners had drafted the QNV 2030 and most of what we see now is part of this larger plan.

Al Khal­ifa con­tin­ues: “The World Cup is part of a jour­ney for Qatar. Qatar is not just go­ing to stop de­vel­op­ing projects af­ter the 2022 tour­na­ment ends, it is an im­por­tant mile­stone in the jour­ney to the 2030 Vi­sion, which was planned be­fore the coun­try even won the World Cup.”

Al Saad Mul­ti­pur­pose Hall

Health & Well­ness Fa­cil­ity; a World Cup

venue at Ed­u­ca­tion City

Seat­ing at Al Wakrah sta­dium by Zaha Ha­did will be re­duced from 40,000 to 20,000 af­ter the

World Cup

Lu­sail Mul­ti­pur­pose Hall; one of the World Cup 2022 venues

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