Sporting stars

A look at Dubai's bid to compete with the best when it comes to sporting venues.

NEWS, Business

As the Rugby World Cup is currently demonstrating in France, the public love a grand sporting occasion and, provided the facilities befit the occasion, spectators will flock in their hundreds of thousands to be part of the event. Dubai has made no secret of wanting to attract 15 million tourists by 2010, and with sports and leisure-related tourism estimated as a $1.2 trillion industry, there can be no doubt that Dubai has targeted this industry as a sure way of meeting this figure.

But the city has a long way to go before matching some of the more established sporting capitals. Here, Construction Week takes a look at the competition Dubai is up against, and its own contender, before it can take its place as a sporting city on the international stage.

Wembley Stadium

At a construction cost of $1.6 billion (£778 million), and with 90,000 seats, the stadium has the second largest capacity in Europe (after Barcelona's Camp Nou) and the largest in the world with every seat under cover.

Designed by architects HOK Sport and Foster and Partners and built by Multiplex, it is also the most expensive stadium ever built. Initial plans were for the much-loved original to be demolished by Christmas 2000, and for the new stadium to be completed some time in 2003. However, numerous financial and legal obstacles meant work was finally scheduled to be completed on 13 May 2006. Eventually, the keys were handed over to the FA on 9 March 2007, with the total cost - including transport infrastructure redevelopment and financing costs - estimated at roughly $1.97 billion.

The 90,000 seats can be protected from the elements by a sliding roof. It can also be adapted into an athletics stadium by erecting a temporary platform over the lower tier of seating. The stadium's signature feature is its arch of 7m internal diameter, with a width of 315m, rising 140m. It supports all the weight of the north roof and 60% of the weight of the retractable roof on the southern side. The archway is the world's longest unsupported roof structure.

Dubai Sports City

Where some cities build one stadium, Dubai is striving to build a whole city dedicated to sports. Dubai Sport City, currently under construction, will form the cornerstone of the $20 billion Dubailand development, and, some say, will be used in Dubai's 2016 Olympic bid.

The main sports structure will be the 60,000-seat, multi-purpose outdoor stadium, which will be used for athletics, football and rugby. German contractor Max Boegl signed a joint venture with Arabtec for the construction of the stadium. Other venues include a 25,000-seater cricket stadium (expandable to 30,000). German subsidiary Alpine Bau Deutschland has been commissioned to build the stadium and the $82 million contract is scheduled for completion in December 2007. It will be one of the most advanced stadiums of its kind in the world and the ICC has been involved in all stages of the design process to ensure the stadium meets the relevant specifications for hosting international cricket fixtures.

Formally launched in March 2004, DSC will span 4.6 million m2 when complete at a cost of $3 billion. It will also feature a 10,000-seat indoor arena, a 5,000-seat hockey stadium and an 18-hole golf course designed by Ernie Els. There will also be the world's first purpose-built Manchester United Soccer School facility, the ICC Global Cricket Academy and a David Lloyd Tennis Academy.

Beijing's Olympic stadium

Being built in China for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the national stadium, also known as the ‘Birds Nest' will host the main track-and-field events and will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies as well. The Chinese government engaged architects worldwide in a design competition, and a collaboration of Herzog & de Meuron with ArupSport and China Architecture Design & Research Group were the winning architects.

The stadium will seat up to 100,000 during the games, which will be reduced to 80,000 following their completion. Its 250,000m2 stadium is being built with 36km of unwrapped steel, with a combined weight of 45,000 tonnes. Ground was broken in December 2003 and construction started in March 2004, with a budget of $423 million - a quarter of the cost of Wembley for virtually the same number of spectators. Its dimensions are 320m long, nearly 300m wide and 69m tall. At one point, more than 7,000 construction workers were involved in the construction, though this number has now dropped to about 1,000.

The structure is set to be finished in December, with the landscaping and testing scheduled for completion in early 2008. Its design has been modified from original drawings, with the retractable roof being removed, which not only saved time, but also saved 15,000 tonnes of steel and $51 million.

Saitama Stadium

This sports and cultural facility in Saitama, a northern suburb of Tokyo, has at its heart a design concept called the Moving Block. Moveable partitions, the largest of their type in the world, allow the facility to adapt from hosting a concert for 36,500 to a football match for 27,000 or music event for 5,000. With the moving block system, 9,200 seats along with restrooms, concessions and circulation elements can move 231ft between the arena and stadium configurations. The move takes less than 30 minutes and is achieved by 64 base trucks that travel on steel rails composed of four guide rails and 18 flat rails.

The $700 million World Cup stadium is enhanced with a vertically moving floor, moveable partitions and moveable ceiling panels. The floor in the arena configuration can be moved up and down to provide the most desirable concert stage or sports activity floor location.

Allianz Arena Munich

Prior to the cricket stadium in Dubai Sports City, Alpine Bau Deutschland worked in joint venture with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron on the Allianz Arena in Germany. The 69,901-seat stadium opened in 2005 as the home of Bayern Munich football team.

The distinctive façade is constructed of 2,874 ETFE foil air panels that are kept inflated with dry air to a differential pressure of 0.038hPa. While appearing white from a distance, when examined closely the foil is transparent. Each panel can be independently lit with red, white or blue light depending on the respective home team.

In total, the construction cost $383 million; financing costs raised the figure to $455 million. Due to its unique shape and look, the Allianz has attracted the nickname Schlauchboot (inflatable boat) and hosted a number of games in the FIFA World Cup in 2006.

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