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Grounds for hope offered by stadia

In recent years stadium development in the UK has tended to inspire thoughts of the London 2012 Olympics.

But in the words of former Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, the UK has entered a glorious decade of sport.

England is among the favourites to host the 2018 Football World Cup, the Rugby Union World Cup is coming to these shores in 2015, the Rugby League World Cup will be here in 2013 and Glasgow will be hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

As a result sports clubs have been preparing expansion plans in a bid to get involved in the action.

The European Rugby Cup (ERC) has stipulated that clubs must have a capacity of at least 15,000 to stage matches in Europe’s premier rugby union club competition the Heineken Cup.

Many of the projects include bolt-on developments such as hotels, conferencing or community facilities, with sports clubs wary of the need to generate revenue outside of match days.

In cricket there are currently five schemes where work is underway with a further two in the pipeline driven by competition to host test matches.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has been offering the chance to host international matches to counties that have not traditionally been international venues, but have made concerted efforts to improve their facilities.

Somerset County Cricket Club are increasing the capacity of their stadium to 15,000 in a £60m project, while Hampshire are boosting their ground to 15,000 also as well as adding a hotel in a £48m scheme.

Warwickshire are adding a new pavilion to Edgbaston in Birmingham in a £32m project that will increase capacity to 25,000 while Yorkshire are also adding a new pavilion in a £21m scheme.

At Old Trafford in Manchester, Lancashire are spending £12m on increasing the capacity to 25,000 while also adding conference facilities.

The most traditional cricket venues in the UK are themselves also responding with plans of their own so as not to miss out on future opportunities to host matches.

Lords, the home of the cricket, has currently the largest stadium building plans in the UK with a £400m expansion planned to increase the venue’s capacity to 38,500. A planning application is expected before the end of the year.

Expert advice

Steven Wilbrenninck is managing director of HBM Stadia, the stadium building arm of Dutch construction giant Bam.

He has designed and built several major arenas that have been accredited with Uefa elite status including the 61,500-capacity Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and the 17,000-seater O2 indoor world arena in Berlin.

More recently he has worked on the 94,700-capacity Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg which will host the 2010 World Cup final and the visually stunning 48,500-seater Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

He says that contractors looking to win work building stadiums can increase their chances by having in-house designers and strong specialist supply chain contacts who can already bring extensive knowledge about all aspects of the design and stadium construction components to the table.

Mr Wilbrenninck says that contractors without in-house design capabilities will invariably not be strong enough to win major stadium jobs.

He adds: “Having experiences and contacts with local and international subcontractors for stadium specific elements, such as seats, retractable stands and video screens is an excellent way to increase chances of winning work.”

He also believes that contractors could benefit from bringing project management capabilities into their armoury with sufficient knowledge to identify solutions on stadium specific sub-contract packages like ticketing, payment and security.

Ken Jones, sports director at consulting engineer Buro Happold, agrees there is no substitute for experience or specialist stadium knowledge to help win work.

He says: “Stadiums are more complicated and specialised than most other types of buildings.”

He highlights a number of areas where specialist knowledge is vital including long span roof construction, seating technology, crowd issues, event IT and lighting.

“We are currently working on a bid to build a new stand at a football club and the contractor in our team really knows their stuff. They believe that some of the competitors will not make allowances for things like crowd loading.

“But a contractor that knows their stuff will know that certain walls will need to be reinforced with steel due to crowd movement and they will price accordingly.”

Buro Happold is currently working on the main stadium for the London 2012 Olympics as well as Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium having previously worked on high profile projects such as Arsenal’s Emirates stadium and the O2 arenas in London and Dublin.

Mr Jones believes that having local knowledge or passion for the event or club that will use the stadium will also help contractors and sub-contractors to become involved.

He says that it will help them understand the business drivers for the development such as building non-match day revenue, seasonal influences or grass quality.

“Stadiums are now like cathedrals in many towns and cities,” adds Mr Jones. “Having a genuine interest in what the stadium will be used for is clearly very useful.”

Sustainable push for M&E firms

As with all major commercial buildings being able to offer sustainable operational measures is beginning to make the difference between winning and losing work.

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is making a lot of noise about the environmental aspects of the new stadium and housing development that will be built on the site of the old stadium.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said: “We have embraced environmental sustainability as part of the plans, delivering a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions against current building regulations, which will make it one of the best performing of its kind in the UK.”

Significant improvements to the building fabric and systems will be undertaken to reduce energy consumption to ensure that the buildings will and achieve a target 20 per cent reduction in total energy use beyond the Part L requirements in the Building Regulations 2006.

A district heating and cooling system will supply energy to all buildings within the masterplan as well as the adjacent school.

A central energy centre will be located in the stadium and will include a 1MWe combined cooling heat and power system providing the majority of energy demanded throughout the site.

As part of the commitment to supporting wider regeneration other surrounding buildings will also be considered for connection to the district heating system as the development progresses.

On-site renewable energy will be provided by a 1MW biomass boiler working alongside the CCHP engines and feeding the district energy system.

Ozone Depletion Potential of all the refrigerants & insulants used in the development will be zero as defined in BREEAM 2008 while the Global Warming Potential will be less than five.

Rainwater will be harvested from the Stadium roof for the purposes of toilet flushing.

The new construction will use at least 10 per cent recycled content (by value) verified using the WRAP Toolkit.

Whim of the super rich

Perhaps more than with any other type of business, football relies on financing from wealthy individuals to pay for the likes of stadium developments.

Plans can quickly advance on the whims of the super rich and equally grind to a halt when those bankrolling the club encounter problems.

Both Portsmouth and Liverpool have seen plans for new stadiums materialize within the last few years only to be put on hold after their owners’ wallets were hit hard by the recession.

There is more than £2 billion of stadium work in the UK currently on hold, the majority relying on a change of ownership at the club to move the plans forward.

Clubs are keen to carry out work on their stadiums to enable them to be involved in England’s bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

And with commercialism creeping ever more into sport, clubs are desperate to increase revenue in any way that they can to compete with their rivals.

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium was financed with £260m borrowed on the stadium’s commercial merits, a genuine mortgage‑style investment recognised as the stand-out sensible Premier League borrowing in a morass of living the dream and leveraged buyouts.