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Stars of 2016 - Part II

In the next installment of our series of web exclusive articles, David W Smith looks at two more stadium projects opening their doors in 2016

 

Orlando City Stadium, USA
Major League Soccer (MLS) club Orlando City SC is building a privately funded, US$155m downtown stadium that will seat 25,500 fans. The venue will also host games for sister club Orlando Pride, which competes in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Orlando City aims to move into the Populous-designed Orlando City Stadium in September 2016 for the final two months of the regular season and playoffs.

In the meantime, the Lions will continue to play in the Orlando Citrus Bowl. The design increased from an original plan of 19,500 seats to 25,500 after what the club described as “overwhelming fan support” at the start of the season, and average attendances of 31,105 fans over 10 games. However, the 25,500 capacity was the maximum size possible without radically altering the designs and setting the project back another year. It will be the third-largest stadium in Major League Soccer.

The revamped design added seating in the corners of the stadium and stands at the south end, as well as canopy roofs over all four sections of the stadium. The 425,000ft² facility will feature an indoor club in the west stand and a 10,000ft² open-air supporters’ terrace.

Orlando City officials say the design has been influenced by several stadiums around the world and in the MLS, including Kansas City; Portland, Oregon; Houston, Texas; and various English Premier League (EPL) grounds in the UK. That influence extends to everything from the height and shape of the roof to the level of the suites. The stadium will have open corners, making the field of play (which will be 10ft below street level) visible to passers by.

 

Zenit Arena, Russia
The new Zenit Arena soccer stadium in Krestovsky Island, Saint Petersburg, was supposed to open in 2009, but the project has been beset by delays. It is now scheduled to be finished in 2016, seven years behind schedule and just in time for the FIFA Confederations Cup that is traditionally held prior to the World Cup.

The Zenit Stadium will have a capacity of 66,881 and host the home matches of FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. Kisho Kurokawa’s ‘Spaceship’ design is a modified and enlarged version of his work on the Toyota Stadium in Japan. It is being constructed on the site of the now-demolished Kirov Stadium.

Costs for the project have exploded. Initially the arena was supposed to come in at US$200m, but estimates have ballooned to US$1.1-1.4bn. Controversy over unpaid workers has also dogged operations on the Zenit Arena. In 2015, German magazine Kicker reported that 50 electricians remain unpaid and are owed about US$200,000. They have filed a lawsuit.

The official name for the stadium has not yet been decided. Currently, the venue is known as Footbolniy stadion v zapadnoy chasti Krestovskogo ostrova (“Football stadium in the western part of Krestovsky Island”), and it is commonly referred to in English as the New Zenit Stadium.

David W Smith is a freelance sports journalist who contributes regularly to The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

January 14, 2016

 

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