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ESSMA Stadium Industry Updates - 24 October 2023

Morocco presents stadium investment plans ahead of major tournaments, Union Saint-Gilloise launches design competition, Cádiz presents Sportech City, Principality Stadium fits new sound system.... and much more in our latest Stadium Industry Updates!

Morocco details stadium investment plan for World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations

Morocco is planning on building a new stadium in Benslimane for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, with six existing venues to undergo renovation work ahead of the tournament, which the country is set to co-host alongside Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.

FIFA announced earlier this month that the 2030 World Cup will take place in six countries spanning three continents. Morocco, Portugal and Spain, which submitted a joint bid to host the tournament, will host the bulk of matches, with the three South American countries to host “celebratory” matches to mark 100 years since the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay.

Morocco is set to become the second African country to host a World Cup, after South Africa staged the 2010 edition. It was also announced last month that Morocco will stage the Africa Cup of Nations in 2025, and details of the country’s venue plans for this tournament and the 2030 World Cup have now been revealed.

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PortAventura World brought in to enhance Espai Barça offering

FC Barcelona has teamed up with theme and leisure park operator PortAventura World for a venture designed to enhance the fan experience at the future Espai Barça, along with developing potential international projects.

The two parties said they will pool their experience and knowledge to explore the feasibility of developing new physical entertainment projects and themed experiences. The first focus area of the strategic collaboration is to study possible entertainment experiences at Espai Barça, the Spanish LaLiga football club’s wide-ranging infrastructure development venture.

Barcelona said this would complement the future museum, and other commercial and leisure attractions, when activity resumes at a new-look Spotify Camp Nou in November 2024.

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Milan challenges protected status ruling for San Siro

The Municipality of Milan has launched an appeal against a decision placing protected status on the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, effectively preventing any efforts to redevelop the venue commonly known as the San Siro.

The Municipality has said it will present an appeal to the Regional Administrative Court (TAR) of Lombardy-Milan to secure an annulment of the opinion presented by the Archaeological, Fine Arts and Landscape Superintendence for the Metropolitan City of Milan on July 26, followed by another from the Regional Commission for the Cultural Heritage of Lombardy on July 27.

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RUSG claims first with stadium design competition

Belgian Pro League football club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (RUSG) has teamed up with its chief architect Brussels Bouwmeester/Maître Architecte (BMA) to launch a design competition for its proposed new stadium – a concept it claims is a first for the country.

RUSG, currently top of the Pro League and a rising force in Belgian football in recent years, said the open architecture competition aims to appoint a co-designer for the integration of Union’s future stadium into its surroundings at the proposed Bempt site in the Municipality of Forest.

This is said to represent the first time a public design competition related to the development of a football stadium has been launched in Belgium. Candidates can present their design proposals through to November 6.

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Cádiz presents Sportech City plans

LaLiga club Cádiz CF has presented plans for Sportech City, a wide-ranging development that will include a year-round events centre and a 7,500-square-metre data centre.

Cádiz is working with professional services firm KPMG on the project, which is designed to ensure the club’s long-term future in the city of Cádiz. The plans were presented at an event attended by LaLiga president Javier Tebas and Mayor of Cádiz Bruno García.

Enrique Porta, head of consumer and retail for KPMG in Spain, said the project will generate thousands of jobs for the local area and serve as a point of attraction for the sports technology sector.

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Ineos ‘exploring plans’ to expand Old Trafford capacity to 90,000

Ineos, the petrochemicals company owned by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is reportedly considering the possibility of expanding the capacity of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium to 90,000 if the 70-year-old is successful in his bid to secure a 25-per-cent stake in the club.

Over the weekend, it emerged that Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani had withdrawn his offer to buy United outright. Both Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe had submitted bids for a majority stake in the club, but they reportedly failed to meet the valuation set by the Glazer family, which has owned United since 2005, of between £5bn and £6bn.

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Chelsea moves step closer to stadium expansion with land purchase

Stoll, which provides housing for veterans, has announced) that it has agreed to sell the majority of its Fulham site to Chelsea in a move that will make it easier for the Premier League club to carry out a major renovation of Stamford Bridge.

In July, Chelsea agreed a deal in principle to buy the area of land next to the stadium. The 1.2-acre site is located to the west of the stadium, near Fulham Broadway tube station.

Stoll has now finalised an agreement to sell the majority of the site to Chelsea following a nine-week resident consultation. Stoll said the sale will enable the company to establish new properties and better services for veterans, and secure its financial sustainability.

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Buyer sought for Estádio Municipal de Braga

Braga City Council has placed Estádio Municipal de Braga, home of Portuguese Primeira Liga football club SC Braga, up for sale.

Público first revealed the news with the distinctive stadium, developed on the side of a rock face of a former quarry, having first opened in December 2003 ahead of being used as a venue for Portugal’s staging of UEFA Euro 2004.

Ricardo Rio, Mayor of Braga and President of the City Council, recently confirmed that the circa 30,000-capacity stadium cost around €200m to develop. With the club only paying €500 per month to rent the venue, and improvements needed, the Council has now decided to cut its ties to the facility.

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Principality stadium fitted with new sound system

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium has been fitted with a new sound system as part of a collaboration between French loudspeaker manufacturer NEXO, the Welsh Rugby Union, and Vaughan Sound.

NEXO has provided performance audio to venues such as the Stade de France in Paris and Etihad Stadium, home of Premier League club Manchester City.

The new sound system will be sampled during the Wales vs Barbarians match at Principality Stadium next month. The system includes the installation of 18 eight-way loudspeaker arrays, which are enhanced with 10 sub bass units and a further set of four-way loudspeaker arrays that will provide audio coverage to the pitch.

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