#SBS24 next month in Manchester! Welcome Wembley Stadium, Oxford United, Juventus FC, Sodexo Live!, Croke Park, Sviby, Stadio Algarve, Keppie Design, Everbank Stadium, Kulture City, PAM, Duracell/Procell, Trusts Arena, Worldpay, Suncorp Stadium... Join them
Driving your revenues, sustainability and fan experience: #SBS24 – 15th annual TheStadiumBusiness Summit in Manchester on 17-18-19 June


Populous makes global organisational changes

Images: Populous

Populous co-founder Earl Santee has been appointed as CEO of the sport and entertainment venue design practice, one of a number of strategic global organisational changes for the firm.

Along with being a co-founder, Santee has served as chair of the global board of directors since 2020. In his new dual role, Populous said Santee will “drive a unified leadership vision”, aligning operational execution with strategic oversight.

Populous has also announced today (Friday) that Nicholas Reynolds, senior principal within the EMEA region, becomes chief global strategy officer. Reynolds has been at Populous for 27 years and has worked on a diverse portfolio of projects around the world, specialising in the design and transformation of iconic major stadia and arenas.

In his new role, Reynolds will be responsible for driving the evolution and growth of the practice through organic and inorganic initiatives in new and existing services lines. Reporting to Reynolds will be Mohit Mehta, global head of sustainability, and Jonathan Nelson, global head of digital.

Mehta is responsible for driving the company’s position as a global sustainable design leader and overseeing Populous’ overall sustainability vision, strategy and compliance throughout the practice and the design process.

Supporting the creation and implementation of a regional sustainable design strategy, Mehta also serves as the sustainability lead for the Americas region. Regional sustainability leaders have also been appointed in the EMEA (David Jarratt) and APAC (Kavita Gonsalves) regions.

Nelson is responsible for driving the firm’s fully integrated digital innovation strategy, seeking to maximise digital design capabilities and systems, and driving value from design and performance technologies across the global company.

The role serves as the primary interface between global and regional organisations in an effort to ensure optimal use of technological infrastructure. Regional digital leads have also been appointed in the shape of Barbara Vasilatou (EMEA), Jason Gardner (Americas) and Nathan Tobeck (APAC).

Today’s news comes after private equity firm Providence Equity Partners in October acquired a minority stake in Populous, a deal the company stated would allow it to broaden its reach and pursue both organic and inorganic growth opportunities globally.

Santee (pictured above) said: “As a practice we are 40 years old this year. Throughout that time, it is the talent of our teams and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that has continued to drive us forward.

“The recent investment into the company from Providence Equity Partners signals a new era of growth for Populous. I am proud to take on the role of global CEO as we continue to innovate to better serve our clients and to continue our mission of designing the places where people love to be together.”

Reynolds (pictured below) added: “As we take Populous into a new phase of growth, our philosophy of design excellence remains completely fundamental to who we are and the work we do. Alongside that, our commitment to sustainable design and digital innovation underpins our ability to lead our industry and create transformative venues, experiences and events for both clients and fans.”

In APAC, as Populous continues to see growth across the diverse Asia Pacific region, the company announces the appointment of senior principal Richard Breslin to a co-managing director role, joining longstanding APAC MD and one of the firm’s founders, Paul Henry, in the role.

Breslin is based in Hong Kong, while Henry remains based at the company’s APAC HQ in Brisbane. Henry said: “This is an exciting time for Populous across Asia Pacific as we continue to build on our world-leading success in the region. Richard brings tremendous leadership to the role, and with his base in Hong Kong he is positioned to further drive our strategy and success in Asia.”

Breslin added: “As we bring the extraordinary Kai Tak Sports Park project to realisation in Hong Kong, it will establish a new global design benchmark in Asia, showcasing our Populous talent and strategy across the Asian market.”

In the past week, a consortium led by local firm Oualalou + Choi, and including Populous, emerged victorious in a design competition for the Grand Stade de Casablanca, which is intended to be the focal point of Morocco’s co-hosting of the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

BSE Global, the parent company of Barclays Center, also announced wide-ranging plans to enhance the Brooklyn arena through two new premium membership clubs, with renovation work to be led by Populous.

Earlier this month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a project timeline and additional updates on the construction of new thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park, with the wide-ranging Populous-backed project set to be completed in the third quarter of 2026.

NFL franchise the Kansas City Chiefs last month unveiled initial concepts for a “complete reimagination and renovation” of Arrowhead Stadium, with the project aiming to modernise a venue that opened in 1972. The team has consulted with a team of experts from Populous on best-in-class features and concepts to elevate the fan experience at Arrowhead Stadium.

February also saw MLB team the Kansas City Royals unveil Populous-designed plans to build a new ballpark and entertainment district in the Crossroads area of the city.

In January, Populous secured a contract to become the lead architect on the redevelopment of one of the world’s most iconic cricket stadiums, Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, while plans were detailed for a 34,000-seat modular stadium in New York that will be built for this year’s Men’s T20 World Cup.

Populous also disclosed how the new Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Stadium being developed as part of the Qiddiya project in Saudi Arabia represents a “quantum leap” in stadium design. The year began with the company opening a new office in Madrid, Spain.