TheStadiumBusiness 2018 Round-Up: Part One

New Stadium Projects

The New Year commenced with bad news for efforts to develop a new national football stadium in Belgium, as the Flemish government denied planning permission for the Brussels project. In February, Egyptian Premier League football club Al Ahly confirmed a conceptual design for its new stadium in Cairo.

In March, work began on a new venue for the Miami Open tennis tournament on the site of Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, while fellow NFL American football team the Oakland Raiders signed a lease deal with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to build its new venue in Nevada. Moving into the second quarter of the year, Scottish Premiership football club Aberdeen received official planning permission from the city council to proceed with the development of a new stadium and training ground.

In July, French Ligue 1 football club Montpellier revealed plans for a new stadium that will be named after former president Louis Nicollin. Moving into September, Nashville’s Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise secured its intended site for a new stadium with a clear vote in favour of the project, despite much political hand-wringing. Mexican Liga MX football team Club León presented details of a new 35,000-seat stadium as part of a mixed-use development planned by owners Grupo Pachuca.

In October, construction started on the Quzhou Sports Campus, a new complex that will feature a series of facilities designed to look like an “extraterrestrial fantasy”. United Soccer League (USL) club FC Cincinnati unveiled the initial concept design for its new stadium, ahead of its move into MLS.

Cox Architecture won the race to design the new Sydney Football Stadium amid ongoing opposition from some quarters over the plans, while in New Zealand, Auckland Waterfront Consortium launched a proposal to build a 50,000-seat, fully enclosed waterfront stadium, and Christchurch City Council approved the allocation of NZ$220m in funding towards the development of a new stadium.

Heading into the end of the year, Miami voters in November backed the David Beckham-led group’s vision for a stadium and commercial complex on land currently occupied by Melreese Country Club golf course. City rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which the two Serie A clubs will work together on a stadium project.

The people of San Diego voted in favour of a new American football stadium being built for San Diego State University ahead of a separate proposal to build a MLS facility in the Californian city. Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Oakland A’s revealed plans to develop a new stadium and revamp its existing Coliseum home, spelling out an intention to put the “park back in ballpark”. Staying with MLB, Portland Diamond Project (PDP), the organisation behind the effort to bring MLB to the US city, announced it had signed an agreement in principle for a site on which to build a ballpark.

Moving into December, further plans were revealed for the development of a new stadium for English Premiership rugby union club Bath. Plans for a new stadium for Ligue 1 club FC Nantes were given the go-ahead by the local Metropolitan Council. Plans were revealed for a new 20,000-seat stadium that is designed to keep MLS franchise Columbus Crew in the Ohio city and serve as the centrepiece of a ‘Confluence Village’.

Bad news for MLB franchise the Tampa Bay Rays came as they admitted they are at “two strikes” following the decision to abandon a project for a new stadium in Ybor City. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the body overseeing the delivery of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, unveiled the design for the tournament’s main stadium (pictured).

Key stakeholders behind the successful bid to bring an A-League expansion franchise to Western Melbourne revealed further details concerning their new stadium plans, which they say will be a “game-changer”. In the English Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur was boosted by positive feedback from fans after the first major test event for its delayed new stadium, while Everton announced that it is proposing a capacity of 52,000, expandable to 62,000, for its new home.

Finally, the City of Austin sealed a deal with Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) that will lead to the development of a $225m stadium housing a MLS expansion franchise earmarked for launch in 2020 or 2021.

Stadium Redevelopment/Renovation

 In March, Premier League club Fulham received approval for its plans to redevelop the Riverside Stand at its Craven Cottage home stadium. Staying in the UK, in April it was announced that Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium will undergo a £70m upgrade ahead of the city’s hosting of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Staying in April, the long-delayed Espai Barça project, which includes major redevelopment of the Camp Nou stadium, was seemingly set to commence in earnest after Spanish LaLiga football club Barcelona reached an agreement with the city council. Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium is set to undergo major redevelopment as part of plans by the Victoria government to renovate a host of venues in the Australian city. The University of Oregon (UO) said it will create the world’s leading track and field stadium for its hosting of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) 2021 World Championships.

Premier League club Crystal Palace was given permission to go ahead with the redevelopment of its Selhurst Park stadium by Croydon Council. In June, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which operates Lord’s cricket ground, revealed details of the next phase of development for the London venue. In August, the University of Alabama unveiled major redevelopment plans for its sports stadia as part of a $600m capital initiative.

Moving into September, Real Madrid members gave the green light to a loan scheme for the redevelopment of the Santiago Bernabéu. The following month, German Bundesliga club RB Leipzig opted to postpone the expansion of its Red Bull Arena amid concerns over mounting construction costs. In Italy, work commenced on the redevelopment of Rome’s Stadio Flaminio, with the ultimate goal of returning the stadium’s status as the home of Italian rugby union.

Finally, in November, Surrey County Cricket Club received full planning permission for the redevelopment of the Lock Laker Stand at Kia Oval, expanding the ground’s capacity to nearly 28,000.

New Stadium Openings in 2018

In April, the Samara Arena became the final stadium for Russia’s staging of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to open its doors. MLS also welcomed two new stadia in the shape of Banc of California Stadium, while Audi Field opened in July.

In August, Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, the only new venue developed for Japan’s staging of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, opened its doors, while the new-look Louis Armstrong Stadium was officially opened ahead of the 2018 US Open.

The following month saw Doha 2019 state it is ready to deliver on its promises as the doors were opened to the revamped Khalifa International Stadium ahead of its staging of the World Athletics Championships next year. In November, Twickenham Stadium opened up two new gateway entrances, while the venue also celebrated the official opening of its new East Stand.

Later that month, Lucknow’s new 50,000-seat cricket stadium was renamed in honour of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as it was inaugurated.

Naming Rights Deals

The New Year commenced with the news Dublin’s Aviva Stadium will retain its current name until at least 2025 after insurance company Aviva extended its sponsorship of the venue. January was a busy month as US financial services company Comerica Bank extended its naming rights deal for the home of MLB team the Detroit Tigers. United Airlines agreed to support the $270m redevelopment of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after agreeing a naming rights deal for the historic stadium.

In April, mobile-focused ticket platform SeatGeek was unveiled as the new naming-rights partner of Toyota Park, the home of MLS team Chicago Fire. The following month saw transportation solutions company Enterprise replace financial services firm Scottrade as the naming-rights sponsor of the home of NHL ice hockey team the St. Louis Blues. Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium signed a deal with Disney that saw it become the Marvel Stadium.

In June, financial services company Abanca agreed a deal to take on naming rights to the Balaidos stadium, home of Spanish LaLiga club Celta Vigo.

In September, financial services company State Farm took on naming rights to a second major league arena in the space of a week after agreeing a deal to sponsor the home stadium of NFL team the Arizona Cardinals. This followed an agreement for the home arena of NBA outfit the Atlanta Hawks.

December saw a flurry of deals. Australian financial services group Bankwest acquired naming rights to the new Western Sydney Stadium, Dignity Health agreed a multi-year deal to become the new partner of the home of MLS club LA Galaxy and T-Mobile finalised a 25-year deal to become the new naming rights partner of the home ballpark of MLB franchise the Seattle Mariners.


US entertainment and sports facilities company Oak View Group (OVG) said it would target global expansion after receiving substantial investment from private equity firm Silver Lake in March. In June, Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) revealed plans to spin off its sports assets and create a dedicated arm for its music and entertainment-focused venues.

In September, the Scottish Football Association reached an agreement to buy Hampden Park from Queen’s Park. The following month saw private equity firm Blackstone acquire live events business the NEC Group, which operates a number of venues in the Midlands region of England. October also saw the protracted Wembley Stadium saga come to a close as US businessman Shahid Khan dropped his takeover bid.

Completing the year, The All England Lawn Tennis Club this month said it would press ahead with expansion plans for the grounds of the Wimbledon grand slam tournament after Wimbledon Park Golf Club (WPGC) members voted in favour of AELTC’s acquisition offer.

Fan Engagement

In January, NFL franchise the Minnesota Vikings claimed a first for the league with the launch of a new virtual reality application, Vikings VR. In March, New Zealand Cricket and Air New Zealand partnered with technology company DropIt to introduce live, in-stadium auctions taking place during matches.

In July, the San Francisco 49ers claimed a first-of-its-kind partnership after teaming up with augmented reality specialist MYXR, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers unveiled a new beach experience for fans attending games at Raymond James Stadium.

In October, Euroleague Basketball entered into a continent-wide partnership with Moovit, whereby the mobility data and analytics company will assist fans travelling to games throughout the 2018-19 campaign.

You can read the second part of our 2018 round-up here.

Image: Supreme Committee