Sports stadiums are some of the most impressive architectural achievements in the world. Not only are they designed to be aesthetically pleasing and visually striking, but the largest ones can house up to 100,000 fans at any one time.
On top of that, they need to create an atmosphere that you can’t find anywhere else. Despite their size, the best sports stadiums feel intimate and electric with energy and excitement from those in attendance.
New stadiums are constantly being developed across the globe; some are brand new structures while others are renovations and overhauls of older stadiums. Whatever the case, there are many practical considerations that need to be incorporated when developing these buildings.
First of all, there’s size; the stadium needs to be able to safely fit in the desired number of fans. This depends on a variety of factors, including budget and the amount of land that can be used for construction.
Then, of course, there is the playing field itself. It requires sufficient room but also needs to be of the highest quality; new stadiums strive to provide the best playing facilities possible and prepare for any and all types of weather.
The stadium also needs high-quality dressing rooms for the athletes, as well as concession facilities for fans in attendance. From the bathrooms to food stands, new sports stadiums need to accommodate for the entire live sporting experience.
A vital component of the development of a new sports stadium is safety. It needs to be structurally sound and can comfortably withstand the weight of fans when at full capacity.
Nowadays, most stadiums also need to meet requirements of relevant governing bodies and governments. For example, if a stadium is being built for a soccer team, then it will need to meet the standards of FIFA.
These requirements have changed over the years and new stadiums now need to meet much stricter safety measures in order to be built in comparison to older structures.
The environmental impact of a sports stadium is a consideration that has been introduced in recent years; efforts need to be made that energy consumption is as low as possible and that the stadium is as sustainable as it can be.
For example, the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey replaced the old Giants Stadium in 2010, and it uses roughly 30% less energy than its predecessor.
This new stadium is an interesting one as it was built for the use of two different American football teams; New York Jets and New York Giants. For this reason, the stadium doesn’t have any features designed for a specific team; everything is neutral and can be adjusted on game day for whichever team is playing there.
In total, the development cost $1.6bn and the new stadium now takes up twice as much space as the old one. It was also designed to blend in with the surrounding buildings and can seat up to 82,500 fans (90,000 for non-football events such as concerts).
The Giants are usually seen as outsiders in the NFL odds, however they still remain an extremely popular franchise. This is important in the context of the development of the stadium, as both New York teams need to continue to attract fans to home games in order to generate revenue and make back the costs of construction. While this isn’t the only way teams cover the cost of building new stadiums, it’s an important revenue stream.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, the iconic Soccer City stadium was built in anticipation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was being held on the African continent for the first time ever.
The structure was an ambitious one, with designer firm Populous tasked with not only creating a state-of-the-art facility fit for the biggest competition in all of soccer, but one that also served as a symbol and beacon of African culture.
What they produced was one of the most recognizable sports stadiums in the world. The facade – created using locally sourced materials – is made to look like a pot and is ‘punctured’ with open panels.
These openings not only provide a natural ventilation system but they also create a dazzling display when the stadium is lit up, mimicking the African night sky.
The development of a sports stadium is a costly undertaking – usually costing hundreds of millions of dollars – so it’s vital that the team playing there can return on the investment; i.e. they have to perform on the field.
There are a staggering amount of moving parts when it comes to constructing a sports stadium and it’s a process that takes several years. As we’ve seen, the end result can be quite breathtaking and as developers continue to innovate, the boundaries of what is possible are constantly being pushed.