Here’s What Will Happen to Qatar’s World Cup Stadiums Now

TThe men’s soccer championship ended in Qatar on December 18 with one of the most thrilling finishes in the league’s 92-year history. It was a night of heart-stopping action that went into extra time, and then some, and ended in the final with Argentina’s re-emergence as world champions. For Qatar, a gas-rich gulf country with big aspirations and little in the way of a football culture, it was a celebration of a rising star, marking its entry on the world stage by showing its political and sporting power. exercise. Qatar spent some $220 billion over 12 years in preparation to host the championships, spending $6.5 billion to build seven of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world, and to renovate another. Countless numbers of migrant workers brought in to do the work died in the process. But as the athletes collect their trophies and the last fans return home, what happens to the stadium now that the party is over?

Major sporting events are often remembered by the white elephants they leave behind, huge stadiums that cost hundreds of millions in construction, require millions more in annual maintenance, and rarely—if is forever — used again to their full potential. Cape Town’s 2010 World Cup stadium has become a beloved local landmark, but the occasional concert and $4-a-person tours aren’t enough to finance its constant renovations. Eight of the 12 stadiums built for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, spread across a country with a population of 143 million in 11 time zones, are getting better by hosting local football teams and events. entertainment, but none of them is likely to recover the cost of investment.

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The youngest country to host the World Cup since Switzerland in 1954, Qatar now has a surplus of very expensive stadiums at its disposal. The country’s compact size—the furthest distance between two stadiums is 34 miles (55 km)—is a boon for fans who are eager to attend no more than one game a day, but now of all fans are gone, it seems overwhelming. The total seating capacity comes to 426,031, almost 100,000 more seats than the entire native population of Qatar. Even with the country’s estimated 2-million immigrant workforce, there are enough seats for one in every seven residents.

Read more: Thousands of Migrant Workers Have Died in Qatar’s Extreme Heat. The World Cup Forced a Reckoning

However, Qatar’s High Commission for Delivery and Legacy, the government body in charge of organizing the World Cup, has pledged that its stadiums will not meet the same fate as previous tournaments, promising to make “plans a new legacy to ensure that our competition will not be met. ‘don’t leave the ‘white elephant’,'” according to a statement from the Secretary General of the Supreme Council Hassan Al Thawadi. Some stadiums will be dismantled and reused. Others will shrink, and some will be converted to residential and shopping areas.

But before Qatar brings out the sledgehammers, it has another festival coming up: the 2023 Asian Football Confederation, which will be held in early 2024 to return fans and players to the scorching heat of a Qatari summer. China was supposed to be the original host, but it relinquished the rights earlier this year in order to pursue its zero-Covid policy. Qatar will also host the 2030 Asian Games, and is bidding for the 2036 Olympic Games, which will be awarded in 2025. If successful, the Olympic bid could see some of the stadiums rebuilt to suit the demands of the Games. different sports.

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A stadium, at least, won’t make it far. Ras Abu Aboud Stadium 974, which is made up of 974 recycled shipping containers (not a random number—that’s Qatar’s international shipping code), will be completely dismantled and shipped to a yet-to-be-determined country -on the country in need of a second hand sports field. The world’s first fully covered soccer field, 974 can provide a model for low-impact sports venues, doing away with the white elephant syndrome entirely. The local area will be transformed into a maritime business district.

The remaining stadiums will have their capacity reduced by up to half. Those excess seats, about 170,000 in total, will be donated to underdeveloped countries in need of sports infrastructure, according to a statement from Ali Dosari, director of installations of the Council supreme, “allowed to live.[ing] soccer culture to be promoted and to a greater extent the love of the sport throughout the world.”

Organizers also hope that the World Cup will spark more football culture in Qatar as well. Qatar has the football club Paris Saint-Germain, where the final rivals, Lionel Messi and Kilian Mbappé, play when they are not in their national teams, but the passion for the domestic Qatar Stars league is not publicized, causing people rarely more than 1,500. . However, local football teams Al Rayyan and Al Wakrah will travel to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, where the USA face Wales in November.

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Not surprisingly, the Education City stadium, which is where most of Qatar’s universities and research facilities are located, will serve students and faculty from nine different universities and school 11

The upper level of the tent-like Al Bayat stadium, which hosted the opening match on November 20 as well as the USA-England game on November A sports medicine clinic is planned for the small-group levels as well. Al Thumama Stadium will receive a similar treatment—renovated with a sports hospital and hotel—while continuing to host as-yet-unspecified sporting events.

Lusail’s Fabergé Egg of a stadium will be completely transformed into a regional hub and residential area, home to shops, schools, cafes, and medical clinics. The top level, with views over the spiers and construction cranes of Qatar’s architectural wonderland, will be transformed into outdoor terraces for the venue’s new residents.

The Khalifa International Stadium, which was built by the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Khalifa ibn Hamad Al Thani in 1976 as a gift of independence to his people, is the only stadium that will remain as it is, ready to host games- smaller and larger tournaments like Qatar have doubled down. on its mission to become an international sporting destination. If it did, the $6.5 billion stadium fund would have been well spent. If not, well, Qatar will join the many well-meaning members of the International White Elephant Club.

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