Will Qatar build less stadiums for 2022?

by  — 22 June 2013

With FIFA’s recent announcement that Qatar can cut down the number of proposed stadiums, the country faces the question whether it will drop some of its best-planned stadiums.

Al Rayyan Stadium is one of the three stadiums in Qatar that are planned for renovation ahead of the World Cup 2022. (Image Corbis)

In its winning FIFA bid, Qatar proposed 12 stadiums to meet the needs of the World Cup tournament in 2022. However, during a recent press conference, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke indicated that the host country could explore options for cutting this number down to four stadiums.  

Anthony Holmes, co-founder and director of the Institute for Infrastructure Studies Qatar, recently spoke with The Edge. “The principal benefit of reducing the number of stadiums,” he said, “is that it simplifies the programme. This is particularly important in relation to the World Cup as, like all major sporting events, the start date cannot easily be changed to accommodate delays in the preparation of facilities.” 

From FIFA’s side, the relaxation does not come with a consideration of cost cutting but as a concern for the country’s size. For Qatar, however, cost will remain a major concern.

“The principal benefit of reducing the number of stadiums is that it simplifies the programme.” 

 “Most large complex infrastructure projects encounter delays and run over budget. If delays cannot be tolerated, then programme acceleration is acquired only at an increased cost,” said Holmes adding, “Simplification by building fewer stadiums concentrates resources, and should improve management of the overall programme.”

However, reducing the number of stadiums will also lead to a potential decrease in the seating capacity, unless considerable design changes are made to the projects. It also leaves little space for a contingency plan. “112 games played in a month and distributed across eight stadiums leaves little capacity to compensate for any major issue,” explained Homles. 

While nine stadiums have been planned to be built from scratch, three of the existing ones – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan Stadium and Al Gharafa Stadium – are set to meet FIFA needs by renovation with a primary focus on their seating capacity. 

Whether it is about the creation of new stadiums or renovation of the existing ones, according to Holmes, “The key is to invest in a programme assurance capability that is independent of the contractors and has the expertise to identify problems at an early stage and the authority to take remedial action.”

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