Stadiums are phenomena of the modern era, and with each Olympic Games or major championship that takes place, they seem to get bigger, better and more inventive. There is also the challenge of sustainability for modern architects, who strive to use recycled materials and reduce carbon emissions. This has produced some of the most stunning pieces of architecture. All shapes and sizes of the stadium have appeared, each seemingly outdoing its predecessor in capacity, sustainability, and flexibility. Of course, the stadium has to be used after a major sporting event and it is fascinating to see the uses that the buildings are put to.
10. Quizhong Sports Arena, Shanghai, China
This tennis arena holds a crowd of 15,000 and has a beautiful petal shaped design in the image of a magnolia flower which is the symbol of Shanghai. It was designed by Japanese architect Mitsuru Senda, who was commissioned to come up with a stadium that would house the ATP World Tour Finals from 2005 – 2008. He did this at a cost of $120 million. It now houses other sporting events as well as tennis, including basketball and gymnastics.
The beautiful petal shaped roof can open or retract in eight minutes depending on the weather conditions. The stadium is located in an 80-hectare tennis center which houses twenty-five courts and this will expand to forty courts, including several indoor and outdoor courts in the surrounding park, when the second phase of development is completed. The stadium spans four floors, rising to 131 feet above the ground at the highest level. The florally inspired roof closes using a spiral mechanism, allowing the individual elements of the flower to join together as the roof closes. The stadium complex is in south-west Shanghai, around 22 kilometers from the city center, according to Rome2rio.
9. Ericsson Globe, Stockholm, Sweden
This imposing dome-shaped structure is the largest spherical building in the world. It hosts Sweden’s hockey games but is also used for concerts and prize fights. It was designed by Lars Vetbrad and Svate Berg and took two and a half years to construct for its opening in 1989. It is a symbol for Stockholm and for Sweden and has hosted many major national sporting events. It has also hosted Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Pope John Paul II, as well as concerts by U2, Lady Gaga, and Bruce Springsteen.
Around the exterior of the Globen, as it is known, there is a sky view which is an elevator which transports travelers in ‘gondolas’ up the side of the sphere of the stadium along parallel tracks. This gives an amazing twenty-minute view of Stockholm and the surrounding area. The interior of the stadium is a vivid red and is meant to represent the sun in Sweden’s solar system, according to Wikiarquitectura. The sphere houses a hotel, a shopping center, and office complex. The seats inside can be moved from certain areas to offer the flexibility of use.
8. FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa
This stadium is often called Soccer City or the African Pot and is the largest stadium in Africa and the fourth largest football stadium in the world, holding 94,000 people. It was built in 1987 and designed by Boogertman and Partners together with Populus. It cost $440 million to construct and is famous for being the venue from which Nelson Mandela made his inaugural speech after being released from prison in 1990, and from which he made his last public appearance in 2010. It also hosted a memorial tribute to the former president in 2013, according to Stadium management.
It hosted the first African World Cup in 2010 as well as the opening and closing ceremonies for the FIFA World cup in the same year. It hosts numerous domestic football matches and also plays host to rugby matches and music concerts from artists such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. The design of the exterior of the stadium is colored to represent a cooking pot with earthen colors and a ring of lights at the bottom to evoke the image of a fire underneath the pot. Within the stadium, no spectator is seated more than 100 meters from the field and there is a view of the field from every seat.
7. Century Link Field, Seattle
This stadium is the home ground of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders. The $360 million stadium seats 72,000. The two-year project affords an amazing view of the Seattle skyline and provides an intimate atmosphere in an enormous stadium. However, the seats are also positioned so that exceptional views are afforded from all seats. Fans report feeling as if they are part of the game as the seats are so close to the action, according to Tripadvisor.
There is an event center within the complex and it hosts trade and consumer shows as well as sporting events. The Seahawks games are unusually loud, and events at the stadium have twice broken the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd roar in decibels. The crowds are huge, and the stadium consistently beats records for high crowd attendance. The stadium was designed by Ellerby Beckett along with Loschky Marquardt & Nesholm Architects in close association with the owner of the Seahawks, Paul Allen, under the firm First and Link. It incorporates the first FirstTurf artificial ground in the NFL. It is a U-shaped construction, which gives a stunning view of Seattle from the open end.
6. Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
This is the largest stadium in Holland and it cost $160 million to build. It was completed in 1996 and seats 54,000 people. It was a unique design which started many other copycat attempts at evoking the finesse of the Amsterdam stadium, but none have rivaled it. It changed its design after losing Holland lost its bid to host the 1992 Summer Olympics to Barcelona.
It features a retractable roof and was the first stadium in Europe to feature one. This caused some issues for the natural grass pitch, as the grass would not grow under the shade of the ends of the roof and had to be regularly replaced. It is home of AFC Ajax and has recently been renamed the Johann Cruijff stadium, after Ajax’s best ever player. It hosts the Dutch national football matches as well as many concerts and other sporting events, including Euro 2000 and the 2013 Europa League. Artists from Rhianna to Celine Dion have performed there. It is also one of the most sustainable stadiums in the world, according to its website. It heats the pitch to prevent frost from forming and provides energy through 4,200 solar panels.
5. Wembley Stadium, London, England
This stadium was completed in 2007 after the original Twin Towers stadium was torn down and replaced. It’s the second biggest stadium in Europe and hosts sports matches and concerts. It was designed by Foster and Partners and cost £1.3 billion, making it a super expensive project even for a stadium. The iconic arch is visible for miles and has become as well known as the famous Twin Towers used to be. It is the largest unsupported roof structure in the world.
The stadium is owned by the Football Association, and it houses the FA headquarters. It is the largest stadium in the UK and the second largest in Europe. There is not a fully retractable roof over the stadium, rather at the east and west ends, there are retractable portions of the roof which can shade fans from adverse weather. One fascinating fact about the stadium is that it contains 2,618 toilets, which breaks the record for any venue in the world! The venue hosts many sporting matches, including those at national and club level, and also hosts NFL matches, when teams visit the US. It can be converted into an athletics track and also hosts concerts, conferences, and even weddings.
4. Heinz Field, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
This stadium is home to the Pittsburg Steelers and costs $281 million to build. It is owned by the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburg. It was completed in 2001 and replaced a previous stadium on that site. The structure is of steel, for which Pittsburg is famous, and 12,000 tonnes was used as an homage to the industry of the area. The stadium holds 68,000 and affords amazing views of the skyline of Pennsylvania. The stadium achieved notoriety for appearing in one of the Batman movies in 2012 when 15,000 unpaid extras watched the filming. It has also been used as a venue for auditions for American Idol.
The stadium houses an enormous video board which measures 27’ by 96’ according to Heinz Field.com. and complements 650 television screens around the stadium. The ground floor houses exhibitions of memorabilia of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburg. The stadium houses numerous football matches throughout the year, as well as concerts from artists like Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift, and other events, public and private. It was named after the Heinz food company which is based locally and makes its presence strongly felt with enormous ketchup bottles inside the stadium.
3. Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
This incredibly beautiful stadium, known as the Birds Nest, is considered to be one of the largest stadium in the world and holds 91,000 people. It cost $33 million and was constructed for the Summer Olympics of 2008 within the Olympic Village. It is now a venue and tourist attraction and is a symbol of Beijing which encompasses many cultural aspects of China and its history. The circular structure represents heaven and the design is meant to evoke thoughts of Chinese style pottery. The design of the stadium exposes the steel from which it is constructed, and the design had to be amended several times during construction to conform to the exacting standards of the Olympic Committee.
Over twenty-six kilometers of steel were used in the construction of the stadium. The finished product rises to 225 feet at its highest point. Thought was put into the sustainability of the building and to the enjoyment of the visitors. The seats all afford a good view of the event wherever they are positioned. There is a Snow and Ice Festival held each year which comprises the largest skiing event in Beijing according to Travelchinaguide.
2. Olympic Stadium, London, England
The London Stadium was built for the 2012 Summer Olympics within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It cost $809 million to create and seats 80,000 people. Apart from being used extensively during the Olympics, it is now home to West Ham football club and is used for other sporting events such as rugby, athletics, baseball and even cricket. It has played host to many concerts including those by the Rolling Stones and Beyonce.
The London Legacy Development Corporation exists to continue the use of the stadium and to ensure that the Olympic park continues to be a workable venue for London. The area of east London where the stadium was built has been regenerated as a result of the building, and the Corporation is committed to providing affordable, sustainable living and events for the good of the local inhabitants. The building holds the longest cantilevered roof in the world and has the flexibility to alter its seating configuration depending on the nature of the event being held there, according to London-stadium.com. The structure forms a series of bowls which are configured to the natural landscape and the concrete used was a special low carbon dioxide mix. It also used minimal steel and used redundant pipes from the north-sea gas excavation.
1. The Maracanã, Rio
This amazing stadium is owned by the Brazilian government and named after a river in the city. It dates back to 1950 when it hosted World Cup games in front of nearly 200,000 spectators. This is the largest crowd ever recorded for a football match and looks unlikely to be beaten in the modern era. It has hit crowds of over 150,000 on several occasions making it an iconic stadium for its capacity alone.
The location of the stadium in Rio stands out due to its position below the statue of Christ the Redeemer. It had to be completely remodeled in 2014 to host the FIFA World Cup, including the final, and now has a seated capacity of around 80,000. It is still the largest stadium in Brazil and is regularly used to host football matches, sporting events, and concerts. It was used during the 2016 Summer Olympics for the opening and closing ceremonies, according to Lifebeyondsportmedia. After the renovations of 2014 parts of the stadium were demolished and replaced by a single bowl structure which allows 95% of the stadium to be covered, a vital element in such a hot country.