Australia: Corrs High Vis: Episode 5 – Attracting a crowd: Stadium Development - lessons from overseas

They come around once in a lifetime. Despite the complex approvals, funding and decision-making associated with building new stadia, overseas developments have proved they can be an economically sustainable proposition.

But what does it really take to make a sporting arena successful over the long term? Corrs Partner Andrew McCormack and Associate Director at Savills, Lawson Katiza offer Isobel Farquharson their analysis in our latest Corrs High Vis.

Corrs High Vis tackles the issues that matter in the construction industry. The podcast series, brought to you by Corrs Construction team, offers analysis and insights to help you make smarter decisions.

These podcasts do not provide legal or other advice. Obtain legal or other professional advice as required.


Isobel Farquharson: Commentator

Andrew McCormack: Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Lawson Katiza: Savills Australia

ISOBEL: You're listening to Corrs High Vis – Construction podcast. I'm Isobel Farquharson. They bring fans together from sport to entertainment but what kind of legacy can our stadiums deliver over the long term. Across Australia a number of new stadiums are being considered. So what should major stakeholders, governments, planners, developers and construction teams take into consideration? I'm joined by Andrew McCormack, Partner here at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Lawson Katiza, Associate Director at Savills Australia to discuss these issues. Andrew if I can start with you. Stadiums are increasingly being used by governments as catalysts for urban regeneration. Are there any particular developments internationally which have impressed you?

ANDREW: I think that research tells us that to create an economically sustainable development for a stadium there are a few key issues that need to be looked at – the location, whether it's the CBD or CBD periphery, proximity to public transport and the walkability of the surrounding area and a good example of this was the Camden Yard Stadium in Baltimore in the United States. Interestingly there they focused on developing the area first and then inserted a stadium into the overall development. They selected a site close to the CBD and as a consequence of those things the development was a real catalyst for revitalising the area and promoting infill developments in parts of the area that needed to be upgraded. That said, proximity to the CBD or the downtown area in Baltimore's case was not a guarantee of success. It was really important that they got local planning designations right to allow the development of residential and retail office space to allow the area to grow.

ISOBEL: And Lawson how do you think developments like this have created a sense of identity in the community?

LAWSON: For me there are three parts to this answer. Iconicity, history and heritage and culture. The iconicity component is more of a creating symbol that's iconic in its own right. Things like Bird's Nest in Beijing which was built for the Olympic games. It stands out as a unique architectural statement and it attracted its own sort of identity and brand for that part of Beijing. In terms of history and heritage there are stadiums such as Maddison Square Gardens in New York which has its own brand and cultural draw to itself. It is an old stadium but has always transcended the different – lastly culture so when you can merge culture with design – things like the Calabash in Soccer City in South Africa, that starts to create a cultural talking point for that city and its surrounds and those are the things that help identify a stadium with a city and create a monument that draws fans and tourists alike to that city.

ISOBEL: Andrew, how important is location in considering a proposed stadium development?

ANDREW: Well without wanting to sound like a real estate agent it is all about location, location, location. I think accessibility is absolutely key to selecting the correct location. Access to public transport, parking and proximity to patrons or customers is very important and the walkability of a stadium that surrounds is very important to minimise traffic congestion which can be a problem if you have got a large development in an inner city area. For all of these reasons CBD or CBD proximate locations tend to work well. There is a danger when selecting the site of a new stadium to opt for cheaper land which often sees an "edge of town" location selected. Well this does reduce the initial costs but it also has an impact of reducing the stadium's marketability, its connectivity with the rest of the area and also the potential for economic development can be inhibited.

ISOBEL Lawson having heard a bit about the importance of location what role do you think stadium developments can play when attracting tourism to a particular city?

LAWSON: There is no silver bullet. It is not a question of "if you build it they will come". Some of these buildings and stadiums have evolved with time to become tourist attractions. Brand is one thing that comes to mind in terms of having a successful sporting team or franchise that is part of that stadium development. So you look at places like Old Trafford or [00:05:01] or Barcelona which in themselves attract a lot of not just fans, but also sporting tourists. In 2014 Visit Britain did a survey that showed that 800,000 visited Britain just as football tourists and that generated 684 million pounds for the region and that in itself shows that the value that stadiums can bring to the precincts that they are built in. There's also a legacy affecting places like – for example Water Cube in Beijing, the MCG - which have been there for ages and are considered meccas by fans and tourists alike and that in itself draws people to those places.

ISOBEL: Internationally we are seeing a trend towards sporting stadiums that double as entertainment venues and sometimes even more than that. In some places they have almost become social hubs for communities haven't they Andrew?

ANDREW: That's right Isobel I think what we found historically is that many stadiums double as an entertainment venue – they'll hold concerts or major events but more recently new stadium developments go a lot further than that and they actually become a resource that the broader community can access. An excellent example of this is the Sports Hub in Singapore which is a sports and entertainment complex holding a national stadium, an indoor aquatic centre and a multi-purpose area. It houses facilities that Singaporeans want to use and in off-season periods when there aren't evens on it transforms into a facility that can be used for the benefit of the public at large. These facilities can be used for community programs all year round and the area is surrounded by retail space and is also very well connected to the city's mass rapid transit network. Another excellent example is the Incheon Stadium in South Korea. Interestingly with that stadium temporary seating can be removed. This allows the stadium to be used as a public park when events are not being held.

ISOBEL: And finally Lawson can you tell me a bit about what we are seeing in the sustainability space with stadium development? Are there any particular examples of projects that have really looked to integrate sustainability into the development?

LAWSON: So what we are seeing is that stadiums are very complicated developments. They involve a whole complicated array of inputs, a whole complicated array of stakeholders and logistics. The example that Andrew gave of Singapore Sports Hub for example shows that stadiums need to be very flexible and that extends to things like the new developments where we are seeing trends towards building smaller stadiums but allowing them the capacity to expand for big major events so building in temporary seating so stadiums such as the new Perth stadium that we are building here in Australia, stadiums such as Wembley has the capacity. We've got stadiums such as the other big stadium in London as well as the National Stadium in Taiwan which was actually cut in half after the main event for that precinct. So there are a lot of sustainability issues that are coming into the fore. Stade Oceania in France for example is the first carbon positive stadium in Europe and they have achieved it by pulling together a range of initiatives such as the cladding they've used for the roofing and the warning systems is an ETFE compound that uses less carbon to manufacture. They've used and also provides for quite an incredible amount of insulation – noise insulation. They've used low carbon cement. The way they've located the stadium within its precinct – all of these things combine to create a very sustainable product. There are also initiatives such as the use of solar power across a lot of stadiums, water saving initiatives – so for example AAMI Stadium in Melbourne collects 1.9 million litres of water which allows it to support four other stadiums within that precinct which is an incredible feat. That same stadium has used fifty percent less steel in its structural systems than a comparable stadium of its type. All of these things add to cost savings and lower footprint on the environment. This can also be extended to things like what they are doing at MetLife Stadium in the United States built in 2010. They have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by 1.7 million tonnes per annum and that's through waste management, water efficiency, energy reduction, pollution reduction and through the construction process as well.

ISOBEL: So there you have it – in summary it seems that versatility, accessibility and optimal zoning for future developments are all key ingredients in the success of a stadium development project. Thank you so much to Andrew and Lawson for your time and thank you for your time. We hope you'll join us again for the next Corrs High Vis. Until then, goodbye.

This podcast does not give legal or other professional advice and its contents should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal and other professional advice should be sought in particular matters.

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.

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