Australia: Attracting a crowd: stadium development lessons from overseas

Stadia are a once-in-a-lifetime endeavour, involving complex approvals, funding, decision-making and stakeholder consultations. However, several recent overseas developments have demonstrated that stadia can be an economically sustainable proposition in the long term.

Currently, a number of Australian governments are considering the potential for stadia to drive economic regeneration in regional areas. In this article, we extract some key lessons from overseas stadium developments for governments and private sector developers.

In the United Kingdom, stadiumled regeneration – where a stadium development is used to catalyse regeneration in a local area – has emerged as a prominent model of regeneration over the last 15 years.1

Similarly, an American study2 has suggested that in order to maximize measurable economic return on public investment, "...using a stadium for downtown redevelopment is likely the only way to see the public dollars invested in the stadium receive any real returns."

Peter Koehler's research on US stadia suggests that "the foremost necessity a stadium must have to succeed in creating any sort of economic development is being located in its city's downtown or the periphery of its downtown. Other factors regarding location that may also play a role in the potential success of a stadium are how well the area scores on economic and demographic indicators, how walkable the surrounding area is, and how close to the stadium public transportation is."


The issues involved with stadium development are complex and require the coordination of numerous factors, including growth patterns, population size, population density and proximity to transportation.

Some of the criticisms levelled against the construction of new stadia are that they:

  • " typically aren't a good tool for promoting economic development because they are used so infrequently (people simply go to the stadium, watch an event and then leave, unless the surrounding area has something further to offer);
  • " generate traffic surges around event schedules;
  • " cost too much money; and
  • " may not leave a positive and lasting legacy.

What then, is the solution to these problems? And how can governments and private sector developers tackle these key issues in new stadium developments in Australia?


A number of stadium developments in the United States, South Africa, Asia and the Middle East have been hailed as successful examples of achieving economic sustainability and acting as a catalyst for regeneration in areas of urban decay.

We explore some of the factors underpinning the success of these projects below:


It is now common for stadia to double as entertainment venues. However, some stadium developments have gone further and found ways to use the stadium to benefit the community and public at large.

This was the primary objective for designers of Singapore's 'Sports Hub' development:

"The idea of the hub is to... inject facilities that Singaporeans want to go to, and add a bit of commercial quantum so that it becomes a place where Singaporeans cannot afford not to go".3

Designed to be a stadium that could metamorphose during off-season periods and be used for the benefit of the public in a more holistic sense, the Sports Hub is a sports and entertainment complex which contains a National Stadium, indoor Aquatic Centre, indoor stadium, and a multi-purpose arena. In addition to events, all facilities can be used for community programs offered yearround, and around the Hub, there is retail space. The Hub is also well connected to the city's Mass Rapid Transit network.

In South Korea, the Incheon Stadium was constructed so that temporary seats could be removed, reducing the building's long-term operational and maintenance costs and allowing the space to be used for a community park (and a retail component) for the public to enjoy at times when an event is not being held.


When considering a stadium development, location is an extremely important factor for two principal reasons.

Firstly, accessibility is key. An event's attendance is most affected by access to transportation, parking and proximity to potential patrons. Downtown areas have proven to work well due to ease of access to public transportation. 'Walkability' minimises traffic congestion as well as being good for the environment.

There is also sometimes an unfortunate trend in the selection of stadium sites to opt for cheaper land further from the CBD to reduce costs. This upfront saving often ends up impacting returns in the long run, reducing the stadium's interactivity, marketability and potential economic benefits.

Secondly, the location of a stadium will affect its ability to act as a catalyst for, or form an integral part of, an entertainment or development hub area that attracts other investors.


In the US, stadia have been used as a catalyst to create a buzzing, vibrant entertainment precinct. In other instances, an area was developed and a stadium was later added to increase the public's interaction with it.

The Camden Yards stadium in Baltimore has been hailed as "a model for how to integrate stadium architecture and development into the city."4

Baltimore focused on developing the selected area first and then placing the stadium into an ongoing development plan. This allowed the stadium to have an easier transition into the existing economy.

The site was close to the CBD (in downtown Baltimore) and the development was used as a catalyst for revitalising the area, promoting infill development, revitalising buildings and keeping resources close to the city.

Planners created safe pedestrian walkways and the increased foot traffic not only gave a boost to the area's economy but also provided incentive for the city to streamline an effective public transport system in the area (visitors and patrons are now able to access the stadium via bus or light rail).

However, proximity to the CBD does not guarantee a stadium's appeal. Appropriate planning designations and schemes which allow for the development of residential and office space (attracting retailers, restaurants and other businesses) are key to achieving infill development in and around a stadium precinct.


Integrated stadia such as those that include hotels, galleries, marinas and sea reserves have proven to be extraordinary tourist attractions and architectural meccas in the Middle East. One example of this is the stadia being developed by oil-rich Qatar as part of its extensive plans to build up tourism infrastructure before the 2022 FIFA World Cup Originally estimated at $USD3 billion, Qatar's stadia will be zero-carbon emitting and climate controlled.

Another is Beijing's Bird's Nest/ Olympic Stadium designed by Herzog & Demouron the Watercube by PTW Architects. "Every day tens of thousands of tourists from all over China arrive to see (them), the twin monuments to the country's moment in the spotlight."5


Long after its original reason for being has past, a city's stadium can create an intensified sense of community that is difficult to articulate (and quantify) in an original project feasibility study.

Stadia are symbolic architecture that can give cities an iconic totem.

In South Africa, the Cape Town stadium has been described as:

" a symbol, reflecting the history, present and hopeful future of a city, a nation. Each event, a new chapter being written in its life's story.
"Able to bring together over 64,000 people for a shared moment in time, Cape Town Stadium was, and continues to be, a vehicle for uniting so many other critical elements to the economic and social development of a city." 6

As Wembley's twin towers were to London, 'the Birdsnest' to Beijing and Soccer City is to Johannesburg, a stadium can define a city's identity.


It is true to say that the built environment consumes a lot of energy and emits a lot of greenhouse gases. However, as a platform for environmental awareness, recent stadium projects have stepped up to the plate in addressing this issue.

National Stadium in Zuoying District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan supports almost 9,000 solar panels which power the entire stadium as well as helping to create additional revenue through on-selling the surplus energy and can potentially generate enough electricity every year to power up to 80% of the surrounding neighbourhood.

In Melbourne, Australia, AAMI Park's efficient geodesic steel skeleton used 50% less steel for the roof than a typical stadium. In addition, its rainwater collection system amasses as much as 1.9 million litres of water per annum and also provides four other venues in the precinct with water.

Levi's Stadium in San Fransisco, USA is a LEED Gold certified building with 85% of its water coming from recycled sources. It has a 15-20% reduced overall consumption from lighting due to LED use. It also sources its stadium food locally – 78% of suppliers are located within 150 miles of the stadium, and 85% within the state of California.7


1 London Assembly: Regeneration Committee, "The Regeneration Game Stadium-led regeneration", Greater London Authority, March 2015
2 Peter Koehler, "Why Do Some Stadium Redevelopment Projects Succeed Where Others Fail? An Analysis Using Macro-Level Trends in Stadium Building", Colgate University, Summer 2012
3 DP Architects Director Teoh Hai Pin
4 Jeremy Siegfried & Sasha Truong, 'Sustainable Sports Stadiums: Integrating Development into the City' (2009) CRP 3840 Green Cities Final Project [10].
5 Malcolm Moore, "Tourists flock to Beijing's Olympic stadium even as dust gathers", Daily Telegraph, 7 Aug 2009
6Anita Mendiratta, "Stadiums: Tourism Game On" CNN's TASK Group - COMPASS – Insights into Tourism Branding, February 2014
7Malik Davies, "Top 7 Sustainable Sports Stadiums in the World", < HTTPS://HUMANS4SUSTAINABLEFUTURE.WORDPRESS.COM/2015/11/13/TOP-7-SUSTAINABLE-SPORTSSTADIUMS-IN-THE-WORLD/ >

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions