News + Research

Placemaking around stadiums

06 November 2014
Placemaking around stadiums

This white paper discusses basic principles of planning and design f or sports facilities. It serves as discussion point for the integration, place making and security aspects of stadium site design and how the renewal benefits of these facilities can be maximised. The intention is to look beyond stadium as an object within which sport is ‘consumed’ and instead consider how sports facilities benefit from and enhance their surrounding environment when designed correctly. Place Dynamix is specialised in the design & planning of these surrounding areas which are critical to the safety and experience of consumers attending events and to the local inhabitants of nearby communities. The wider economic, social and environmental benefits that stadia can bring to their wider context is also reviewed. We feel the following categories are crucial when designing new stadiums, retrofitting old stadiums or redeveloping stadium sites.

The last 20-30 years has seen a massive expansion in the commercialisation of sport across the globe. Big business has been attracted to sport in the form of direct sponsorship and corporate hospitality. The demands of individual supporters and the need for greater security and safety of stadia have led to an unprecedented boom in stadia development and redevelopment.

For a variety of reasons the decentralisation of stadia from traditional urban sites to peri-urban or rural areas has been a common migration pattern globally. The 1989 Hillsborough disaster in UK marked a watershed in stadia design in the UK. Lord Taylor’s recommendation for all seated stadium led to a massive wave of new development and redevelopment as old terraces were replaced by seats. For a variety of reasons (mostly economic) this ended up with some clubs reinventing in situ and other moving to green fields. Many clubs opted initially to redevelop their existing stadiums but the reduction in ground capacity has led some to develop new stadiums. The result is that many stadia are in remote locations some distance form the fan base and host communities.

This pattern of improving consumer experience and quality within stadia has spread across sports and also locations. In the US, similar patterns have occurred.

Driven by lack of downtown sites and the availability & affordability of land in suburban areas. The decentralisation of people and commerce from downtown locations to areas outside of the city was made possible by lower car/fuel costs and many club owners followed the fans. Due to the low density context, there was little economic persuasion to provide dedicated public transit and many stadiums have become accessible only by motor vehicle.

Elsewhere in emerging counties the popularity and commercialization of world sports has resulted in a number of new stadiums being built. These typically follow the pattern of lower land costs and easier land availability in urban edge areas. The hosting of major tournaments in countries without tradition for such large scale organised sporting events has highlighted a number of positive and negative lessons to be learnt.

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