Brand: Dubai Sports City

The launch of Dubai Sports City in 2008 is set to cement the growing reputation of the UAE as a first rate venue for major sporting events. CEO Middle East talks to the man at the helm of the ambitious project and unveils the masterplan behind the vision

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By  Andrew Mernin Published  April 13, 2006

|~||~||~|If Mount Olympus in Greece is the birthplace of competitive spectator sport then Dubai Sports City is its future. By 2008, if the vision of the man behind the project is realised, the 50 million square feet (sq ft) metropolis could well be an epicentre for international sport. U Balasubramaniam, CEO of Dubai Sports City (DSC), however, tells CEO Middle East, that marketing the unique brand to the world is not going to be easy. “This is a very complex project as it has over 60 separate components in fields such as residential areas, hotels, sports academies and golf courses. “In terms of marketing, you have to put everything into a different compartment as each area has its own marketing methodology.” Described by Balasubramaniam as “not just a residential township, but a sports-themed masterplan,” DSC will incorporate residential properties housing 70 000 people and four main stadiums, including a 60 000 capacity multi-purpose arena. The development will also boast numerous training academies, specialist schools, a dedicated sports rehabilitation centre and all the commercial and retail facilities of a fully-functional city. With most of the sporting developments due to be built by 2008, the entire project will be completed by 2010, by which stage it will be worth around US $3 billion. Since DSC agreed to become the cornerstone of the AED18 billion (US $4.9 billion) Dubailand development in early 2003, the project has received widespread attention from a host of major sporting brands. “Most people have been very keen on becoming a partner with us. When we decided to open a soccer academy, we had the choice of four major clubs including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. We have also had interest from the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US,” he says. The list of sporting giants who have already officially endorsed the DSC brand certainly bodes well for its future success. As well as the Manchester United Soccer School, DSC will house the David Lloyd Tennis Academy, an 18-hole golf course designed by former Dubai Desert Classic champion and the ‘Big Easy’ himself, Ernie Els, and the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) cricket academy. In ensuring the success of DSC, one of the main challenges for Balasubramaniam will be to continually diversify to create new sources of revenue. “When the real estate is all sold, we have to ask ourselves where the revenue will come from, as stadium gate receipts don’t make significant amounts of money. “We will be talking to some of the big boys about stadium commercialisation and will be thinking in terms of TV revenue, hospitality, and transport systems.” Being built by Wade Adams Contracting LLC as part of its US $109 million contract to develop DSC’s infrastructure, perhaps the most impressive of the residential developments in the city will be the Victory Heights private golf community. While this development is aimed at the elite market, however, Balasubramaniam insists residential opportunities will be universally accessible. “So far we have sold around 1100 properties and have received interest from both ex-pats and UAE nationals. We want to appeal to everyone so the residential facilities are not all necessarily elitist,” he says. Balasubramaniam also believes that DSC could pave the way for exciting times in the wider region and help bring the finest sporting events to the Middle East. “One day Dubai will apply for the Olympic Games and I think DSC could be fully utilised. “There’s nothing like DSC in the world and it will put the Middle East right up there on the sporting map.”||**||

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