Bringing sport to the masses

Dubai Sports City is set to change the face of Dubai. When completed, its four stadia will be clearly visible from Emirates Road and will span an area of 5 million m2. The project was given a recent boost by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who instructed the developers to increase the capacity of the multipurpose outdoor stadium from 25 000 to 60 000 — making it large enough to host FIFA matches. Construction Week reports.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  August 20, 2005

Bringing sport to the masses|~|09_perspective-200.jpg|~|Balasubramaniam, CEO of Dubai Sports City, says: “With a project of this size a lot more time has to be spent on planning and laying out the infrastructure. Shear superstructure construction is the easiest part of the process.”|~|As the sporting centre of Dubailand, the most striking part of Dubai Sports City will be the four stadia clearly visible from Emirates Road next to Dubai Autodrome. These sporting venues rose to even greater prominence last month when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum instructed the developers to increase the capacity of the multipurpose outdoor stadium to 60 000. Its original capacity was 25 000. “We have been given instructions to increase the capacity of the multipurpose outdoor stadium, which is for soccer, rugby and track and field, from 25 000 to 60 000 capacity. I believe the decision was made because Sheikh Mohammed wants sport to become a way of life for the people of Dubai. Part of that involves bringing professional football to the United Arab Emirates, and if you want to hold large scale FIFA matches, the capacity has to be a minimum of 40 000,” says Uma Balasubramaniam, CEO, Dubai Sports City. “We are currently looking at all options and we are considering whether the decision means we will have to redesign the stadium from scratch, or just modify the existing design,” he adds. Meanwhile, construction work on two of the other stadia is progressing and Middle East Foundations has completed about 50% of the piling works. These works were able to start earlier than originally anticipated as they were awarded as a design-build contract, which allowed the contractor to begin work whilst the design process was still ongoing. Piling work on the third stadium is expected to begin soon, and several contractors are believed to be in current negotiations with the developer. “I anticipate that the successful contractor will start work on site in about a month’s time,” says Dr Basim Ibrahim Mohamad, project director, Dubai Sports City. As far as the superstructure works are concerned, Dr Basim anticipates that the first award will be made for the cricket stadium in December, with the contract aiming for a 2007 completion date. Other works around the 5 million m2 development are also progressing. Wade Adams recently completed the grading works including the rough grading for the city’s road network. Next on the agenda is the infrastructure, the design of which has just been completed by Khatib & Alami. “We are just about to tender the infrastructure works for the entire city,” says Dr Basim. “The works involve the installation of the road network, power, water and irrigation distribution, and a sewage treatment plant, which will be fully independent from the Dubai Municipality network,” he adds. The contracts will be split into two main packages, with each contract covering the whole range of services for a section of the site. An award is expected in October with a view to starting work in November, with a contract period of about 14 months. For the landscaping, Al Khatib & Cracknell completed the concept design for the whole city and is currently engaged in detailing the overall design, including the central canal, around which much of the commercial space will be built. On the other side of the development, work on the Victory Heights Golf Course is set to start by the end of the year, and Diar Consult is busy finalising the design of the 900 or so villas that will surround the course. “The villas will begin construction at the beginning of next year, because we want to complete the main excavation works for the underground utilities first, to avoid logistical difficulties,” says Dr Basim. “With a project of this size a lot more time has to be spent on planning and laying out the infrastructure. Shear superstructure construction is the easiest part of the whole process,” says Balasubramaniam.||**||

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