This Week: The present and future of Stadiums

Two very intriguing stories got me thinking this week. First was the National Geographic’s visual 2,500 year history of stadiums in drawings – from the Stadium at Olympia in Greece from the 5th Century BC to Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The story also features a compelling graphic of the “stadium of the future” as imagined by Populous.

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The graphic has some interesting “yes – make that happen now!” ideas – including movable glass spheres fixed to rails for high-spending fan seating and in-seat drone delivery food ordering – to more out-there suggestions like transparent fields – just leave it. The speculative design also posits the future stadium as a transportation hub and sustainable energy farm. The Populous crew clearly threw everything they had at this graphic, but as a Tottenham Hotspur fan watching the new, high-tech Populous designed Spurs stadium go up in North London, the future may not be not far off.

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However, this trend works here in England because clubs cover much of the stadium construction costs, which includes all the latest technologies. In the US, where cities are often left to foot the bill, the move towards hyper tech stadiums knitted into the urban infrastructure may be considered a worrying trend if cities are required to pay.

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The second story, from Dezeen, features a series of irregularly shaped football pitches in unused parcels of Bangkok., developed by Thai property developer AP Thai and creative agency CJ Worx.

This project’s simple yet inspired concept and accompanying video is a refreshing counterpoint to the complexity and broad ambition of the “Stadium of the Future”.  Sport is born in the cities and poorer communities of the world, be it in Bangkok, Rio or the Bronx. I hope the stadium of the future will find a way to bridge the growing divide between where sport is born and nurtured to where the game is glorified and monetized on the global stage.

While both stories are of private-public partnerships, local sports fans seem to benefit so much more from the built project in Bangkok than the stadium of the future. I love the Bangkok’s project’s vision of bringing high quality sports facilities to the people. Enjoy the beautiful video:

Good to be back.