2011 STADIUM ROUND-UP

The last 12 months have been really exciting for both stadium and sports fans alike.

Ongoing planning disputes, innovative architecture and breathtaking final products have made 2011 a real year to remember in the world of stadia.

Back in January, Turkish football club Galatasaray opened their brand new $210m stadium which replaced their iconic home at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium. The new 52,467-capacity Turk Telekom Arena features a retractable roof – a first in Turkey.

There was the start of what would become a long-running saga over the future ownership of the Olympic Stadium in east London after the Olympics. Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United Football Club, along with others, submitted their final submissions to take over the 80,000-seater venue. As we all know the Hammers were chosen as future tenants for the iconic stadium.

Olympic Stadium

It was also a great month for us as we launched our StadiaDirectory app helping to keep all stadium fans in the know whilst they’re on the move.

Bristol City Football Club were left in limbo as their plans for a new home at Ashton Vale seemed to drag on again as local homeowners protested against development.

In February, the US saw a number of interesting stadia feats. Major League Soccer team, Houston Dynamo, broke ground on a new 22,000-seater stadium which will cost £110m when it is completed in April 2012. The $1.3bn Cowboys Stadium hosted the NFL Super Bowl XLV – a perfect test for the venue that opened in 2009. It was hoped to be the highest Super Bowl attendance in history but fell short due to a failure to provide enough temporary seating.

UEFA was on the receiving end of some heavy criticism as the Champions’ League final at Wembley Stadium was to be the most expensive ever with the cheapest ticket starting at £176. On a more cheery note London 2012 opened the first Olympic venue - the 6,000-seater Velodrome.

March saw Premier League giants Chelsea and Liverpool figure prominently in the rumour mill as both clubs considered upsticking from their historic homes. The final piece of turf was laid at the Olympic Stadium and Costa Rica unveiled a brand new 35,000-seater venue.

Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club played their last league game at the Withdean Stadium in April – signing off in style by securing automatic promotion to the Championship. The Seagulls moved into a brand new £92m 22,500-seater stadium later in the year, leaving the former zoo and athletics track behind them.

AMEX Stadium

Things got a bit feisty for players from Manchester United Football Club who made a bit of a mess in the Wembley Stadium dressing room after losing 1-0 to rivals Manchester City in an FA Cup semi final. A rather stroppy outburst caused damage to a wall but no formal complaint was raised.

In May, AFC Bournemouth agreed a lucrative three-year naming rights deal with Seward Motor Group o name their stadium. Construction work completed on the London 2012 Handball Arena making it the third venue ready for the Games. In Australia, the Adelaide Oval kicked off a $535m redevelopment to make it a multi-purpose stadium which would be ready for 2013.

With the summer in full swing, Bristol Rovers Football Club announced proposals for a new 20,000-seater stadium on the outskirts of the city which will see the Pirates leave the Memorial Stadium, their home since 1921. Wembley Stadium announced it would host the UEFA Champions’ League again in 2013, with the Amsterdam Arena hosting the UEFA Europa League Final in the same year.

Amsterdam Arena

July saw two more high profile commercial stadium deals with both Leicester City and Manchester City revealing multi-million pound stadium naming rights. In the US the Washington Redskins unveiled plans for a futuristic eco friendly car park which will help generate electricity for their stadium.

There was more great news for London 2012 in August as Olympic organisers announced chemical company Dow agreed to fund and make the fabric wrap around the Olympic Stadium. On a more sinister note the Premier League called off an opening match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton Football Club due to the riots in London.

And in keeping with the disorder Oxford United Football Club was on the receiving end of vandalism ahead of their match against Bradford. Vandals broke into the Kassam Stadium in the early hours and burnt 'STFC' - the initials of local rivals Swindon Town Football Club - into the pitch.

Turkish professional football side Bursaspor began construction on a brand new 45,000-seater stadium that has a real architectural bite. The Timsah Stadium will feature a crocodile roof wrapped around the outside of the venue providing a rather different way to intimidate opponents.

Timsah Stadium

In September, Notts County Football Club played Juventus in a friendly to mark the opening of the Serie A club's new €105m 41,000-seater stadium in Turin. The 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand kicked off in tremendous style showcasing some impressive new venues and Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers installed 8,000 new seats at Molineux.

In October, Fulham Football Club announced plans of redeveloping Craven Cottage – pushing capacity to 30,000. And neighbours Chelsea failed to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge following an unsuccessful general meeting of Chelsea Pitch Owners shareholders. The deal was crucial in securing a possible move away from their historic home and has left the Blues heading back to the drawing board.

It was a proud moment in November for Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as the club renamed a stand in his honour, commemorating his 25 years of service at the helm. MK Dons Football Club announced plans to complete the second phase of their stadium by the start of the 2012/13 season which will see capacity increase to 32,000.

The Christmas month of December was full of stadia news. Spanish football team Atletico Madrid revealed plans to move into a new home by 2015 and Welsh club Bangor City said farewell to their home of 80 years.

There was no repeat of the widespread snow of 2010 in the UK, but high winds caused extensive damage to many areas. Motherwell Football Club called off a match against Dunfermline for safety reasons as the venue had structural damage.

And 2012 is set to be jam packed of exciting stadium developments as both clubs and Countries prepare plans and start construction on venues to host some of the most exhilarating sporting events in the world.

Construction for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is nearing completion and the future tournaments in both Russia and Qatar are producing some truly exciting prospects. Throw in a new 80,000-seater venue in China, big stadiums in India plus numerous ones around Europe it is easy to see why you should keep an eye out on www.stadiadirectory.com.

Posted on 01/01/2012