With the Qatar world cup a few months away, the hype with arguably the most-watched spectacle on earth is high as ever. This year, the football world cup made its way to early November compared to the usual June – July schedule. It was to facilitate the players and fans alike as the Middle Eastern summer is some of the hottest on the planet.
In addition to a late start, Qatar has also implemented innovative choices like an overhauled cooling system and modular stadium. The first of its kind in FIFA’s history. One particular stadium called the Stadium 974 stands out from the rest because of its scale, innovation, and the sustainability it brings to the game. Let's find out more about “The moving football stadium”.
Stadium 974: Everything You Need to Know
Location and Design Elements
The stadium is located in Ras Abu Aboud of Doha. Doha itself enjoys comparatively serene weather thanks to the long stretch of the open sea right across from the downtown city. The stadium was initially named after the city itself but was later changed to Stadium 974.
A wide-open waterfront has been chosen on the western bank of Doha for the stadium. It was to further facilitate the cool temperate weather of the seas.
But it was almost impossible to stretch out the massive 450,000 square metre land requirement for the stadium. So just like the Palm Jumeirah of Dubai, Qatar built an artificial promontory specifically for the stadium. This allowed the organising committee to build an entire system encompassing the structure.
Fenwick Iribarren Architects based in Spain acted as the lead design consultant for the project. In addition to the architectural ingenuity, the designers came up with something that was never done before, a modular stadium that can be completely demountable.
Construction of the Stadium
The stadium was first commissioned in 2017 as the 7th of the 8 proposed world cup venues. All of the stadiums for the world cup had to be temperature-controlled and shaded. But the organising committee decided to build one stadium on the shoreline to preserve the natural experience. As a result, the Stadium 974 doesn’t have a shade or a central climate control system.
The first challenge regarding the stadium came was its structural durability. HBK Contracting, a Qatari-based real estate company, was put at the helm of realising the urban design of the stadium. The construction started with the promontory and then moved on to the stainless-steel outer skeleton of the stadium.
Recycled shipping containers made up the entire outer shell of the stadium. A total of 974 containers were used which makes up the majority structure of the stadium as well as provide its unique outer look. It's the main reason behind the 974 naming. The other is an interesting coincidence regarding the international dialling code for Qatar, which is also 974.
The stadium saw light in early 2021 and it received a formal green light from FIFA around mid-2021.
Capacity and Features
The stadium is built on the west bank of Doha. The cool winter breeze will ease the November heat. Qatar neither sees snow flow nor does the temperature go below 15 degrees. But the temperate weather of November combined with the humidity from the sea will make for a pleasant experience.
The total capacity of the stadium is 40,000. It might be small compared to some of the other stadiums but for a modular stadium, this achievement is huge. Some of the containers will be used as hospitality boxes and private rooms for the matches. The entire upper grill of the stadium is fitted with flood lights. The design choice allows the floodlight to provide light from all angles without hampering the vision of the fans.
The entire deal about sustainability has been strongly noted in each step. The stadium has been the recipient of 4 stars from the Global Sustainability Assessment System. The stadium has also hosted its first match ahead of the Qatar world cup. The match between UAE and Syria was hosted here as part of the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup on 30th November 2021.
The Sustainability Goal
FIFA claims this is the first time in football’s history that a world cup game will be played on a demountable multipurpose stadium. More often than not, host countries build new stadiums for global events like the FIFA world cup and the Olympics. Most of these new stadiums are left abandoned or in ruins after the event which not only poses an economic issue but a strong case against sustainability.
Stadium 974 is a glaring example that visually appealing stadiums don’t have to break banks for construction. The Qatar government plans to repurpose the stadium once the world cup is over. The plans include using the venue as a waterfront theatre or amusement park.
Much of the 40,000 seats have already been pledged for external use as well as some of the containers. Qatar also pledges responsible usage of the demounted materials. Most of the containers will be provided to developing and poor nations to facilitate logistics support.
Qatar claims that depending on need, Stadium 974 will be 100% repurposable. Unlike other hosts, Qatar plans to boost its tourism with the influx of fans from all over the world for the mega event. And Stadium 974 is a positive step forward in responsible and sustainable development initiatives.
The need for sustainable structures has become even more apparent in recent years with the impact of climate change and rapidly reducing resources. On that note, the initiative for a modular stadium from Qatar is certainly commendable and visionary for future global events.
The Stadium 974 is the first of its kind not just in Qatar, but for any global event. This is the first mobile stadium to be used in a FIFA event as well as one that ensures complete reuse and recycles opportunities. The stadium will hold 7 matches from the group stage of FIFA's Qatar world cup 2022.