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How to score with stadiums

“People are very passionate about these projects. They’re an easy thing to get out of bed and deliver.”

This is how Mace director for major programmes and infrastructure Davendra Debasia described stadium construction to me as part of our in-depth look at this exciting sector, published today.

New-build stadiums tend to be huge, one-off projects, often involving the construction of iconic structures for clients that might be procuring their first and last major building.

The same principles can also apply to single stands, especially on the larger projects – just look at the work that went into building Liverpool FC’s new Main Stand at Anfield last year, for example.

All of that can combine to ramp up the pressure, particularly when coupled with the time pressures that are involved, with sports clubs wanting to be in their new homes as soon as possible to maximise revenue.

But the fact that they are home to sports teams means they are often dear to many people’s hearts.

The construction of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium has drawn immense interest on social media (and on the Construction News website), with fans following main contractor Mace’s every move closely for signs that the project is progressing as it should.

Of course these projects can be risky, too, as a number of contractors have found out to their cost in the last 20 years, with construction of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff ending badly for John Laing, and Wembley Stadium ending in one of the largest legal claims in British construction history.

But when they go right, they can do much to boost the reputation of construction among the general public – just look at the initial reaction to Sir Robert McAlpine’s work on the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal, which completed ahead of schedule, or the rave reviews given to Carillion’s work on that new stand at Anfield last year.

A number of factors – rising player wages and the presence of Financial Fair Play rules, the increasing value (and the cost to consumers) of TV rights, a more tech-savvy generation willing to stream matches online for free (even if illegal) – are combining to create a strong pipeline of stadium work in the UK, particularly among football clubs.

Clubs will need to generate more revenue from their own assets, of which the stadium is their prime piece of real estate – and with many of Britain’s most famous football grounds over 100 years old and not seeing any upgrades since the conversion to all-seater in the 1990s, many are ripe for redevelopment.

In our in-depth interactive feature, which includes a map of all 92 English league clubs and their stadiums, we speak to many of the key players in UK stadium construction to analyse where the opportunities lie for contractors, as well as what hurdles firms should be aware of when bidding for jobs.

The stadium construction sector is a hugely exciting and high-pressure one to be involved in – but one that can help promote a positive legacy for construction when the industry gets it right.

In the news

Aecom has been confirmed (five weeks after CN first revealed the news) as main contractor on the £800m Spire London tower, set to be the tallest residential development in Western Europe.

Wates is set to build the new Eastenders set for the BBC and Skanska’s new chief executive Greg Craig is the 72nd confirmed speaker at the Construction News Summit in November.

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