Join us as we step back in time to find out what the eye-catching stories were at our launch back in 2016. Some big projects were in the early stages of their development, a new state-of-the-art stadium opened in the NFL, and the world had gone Pokémon crazy…

A new era for Tottenham

Since opening in 2019, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been widely hailed as one of the best sports venues in the world. To make way for the stadium, Tottenham had to bid farewell to its historic old White Hart Lane ground, and the club’s former home was partially demolished back in July 2016.

Work on the 62,000-seat stadium took longer than expected – it staged its first match in April 2019, around seven months later than originally planned – but it was worth the wait for Tottenham fans. The stadium has since staged NFL games and on Saturday cemented its status as a host of major events with the Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk boxing match.

Vikings set sail at US Bank Stadium

One venue that did open its doors in the summer of 2016 was US Bank Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The 73,000-seat stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl in 2018, cost $1.1bn (£803m/€940m) to build and its opening ceremony attracted fans at a rate of 12,000 an hour.

A standout feature of US Bank Stadium is its glass façade – which was later dubbed a “death trap” for birds after a study found that over 100 birds are killed annually by unknowingly flying into the stadium.

Fans returned to US Bank Stadium yesterday (Sunday) for the first time in 636 days following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

First steps for Allegiant, SoFi Stadium

A year after the unveiling of US Bank Stadium, the NFL debuted another hugely anticipated venue in the shape of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons. Back in 2016, though, work was just beginning on two more stadiums that would take the NFL – and sports in general – to a new level in terms of infrastructure.

A meeting between the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee was held in July 2016 to explore potential sites for a new stadium in Las Vegas for the Oakland Raiders. It was reported at the time that the stadium could cost as much as $2.1bn to build.

A site near Mandalay Bay was ultimately selected for what is now Allegiant Stadium, the 65,000-capacity home of the Raiders which opened in 2020. COVID-19 restrictions meant that Raiders fans had to wait until the 2021 season to sample the venue for the first time but, like Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was worth the wait.

In 2016, early steps were also being taken on the construction of SoFi Stadium, the new home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, as engineering firm AECOM and Turner Construction were selected to oversee the development of the 70,000-capacity venue.

SoFi Stadium opened last summer at a reported cost of $5bn, making it one of the most expensively-assembled sports venues of all time. With partners such as Google, Cisco and naming-rights sponsor SoFi, it is also one of the most technologically advanced. 

Embarrassing debut for US Open roof

In 2016, advances were also being made at tennis venues as a new retractable roof was unveiled at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main venue for the US Open. The three-year project cost an estimated $100m but suffered an embarrassing debut after it failed to reopen during its grand unveiling.

Gotta catch ‘em all…

And finally, as the world became hooked on the phenomenon that was Pokémon Go, stadiums across the world took advantage of the craze by inviting players to “catch ‘em all” while roaming around their facilities.

North Carolina’s Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium and Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia were among the venues to stage events. While Pokémon Go was considered a fad by some, and active daily user numbers are nowhere near the peak of about 45 million registered back in 2016, the app led the way with augmented reality and has become one of the most downloaded mobile games of all time.

Image: Ed g2s/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size