Sports City capital doubled to $4bn

The project will now be completed in its entirety by the end of 2010


Investment for Dubai Sports City has doubled from $2 billion (Dh7.35bn) in 2005 to almost $4bn (Dh14.68bn) today. But unlike other projects, which have been reeling from sky-high inflation, most of the capital increases have been the result of additional features and increased capacity, the city’s chief executive officer said.

“Only about 20 per cent of the increase is due to cost escalation after the project was launched. The rest of it is mainly because of additions to the old plan,” U Balasubramaniam (Bala) told Emirates Business.

He said the 60,000 sq ft multi-purpose outdoor stadium for football, rugby, and track and field, which is under construction, was originally scheduled to be 25,000 sq ft only. The capacity of a “few tennis courts and facilities”, were also doubled, he said.

“The sizes of the clubhouses have been increased and some facilities, such as the field hockey stadium, have been added to the original plan,” Bala added.

“But obviously there’s an escalation of pricing from the time of conceptualising to schematics, to getting design approvals and going to contract and tender.”

Bala said that one of the major challenges was not on the cost side but of convincing the authorities to accept the design. “The first reaction when you tell somebody about the project is, ‘What! Residing in a stadium?’ But the concept here is very different – it’s community living,” he said. “In Dubai Sports City – a city within a city – everything that a resident wants is available. Whether it is schooling, training, sports, art, recreation, leisure, health and rehabilitation… everything is available,” Bala said.

The project, which was originally intended for completion in early 2009, will now be completed in its entirety by the end of 2010, he said, adding that everything is running smoothly.

“The construction period is stretching longer as we had to undergo a complete masterplan change in mid-2006. As you add some facilities, your environmental study has to be redone, your power and water and other utility requirements becomes different, so the whole thing is different,” Bala said.

The Els Club, the first completed facility in Dubai Sports City, opened its doors to the public on April 12. The 72-par, 18-hole championship golf course was launched in January this year.

Bala said 2008 will see the completion of several other key facilities as well as the announcement of major contracts. “There is a lot more to come up this year,” he said. “We are already constructing the 60,000 sq ft outdoor stadium and the 10,000 sq ft indoor stadium and we are almost at the last stage of the cricket stadium.”

The 25,000 seat cricket stadium and the 5,000 seat hockey stadium will be finished later this year, he said.

To complement the launch of these two stadia, an international cricket event is currently being scheduled for the grand opening, while plans are also afoot to stage an international tournament in the hockey stadium.

About seven to eight contracts will also be announced this year, Bala said. Construction contracts for the Canal Residence West and Canal Residence East will be announced by the end of April and May, respectively. Contracts for the Gateway Towers commercial towers will be announced thereafter.

Beginning in the third quarter of this year, Dubai Sports City will lease about 3.8 million square feet of retail spaces. There will be five major retail areas – the Arena Mall, the North Point, the South Point, the Canal Residence West and the Stadium’s retail and public area.

The Arena Mall, which will be directly linked to the 10,000 seat multi-purpose indoor stadium, will be anchored by a 140,000 square foot hypermarket and will include a family entertainment centre.

The hypermarket, which will comprise about 1.88 million sq ft of gross lettable space, has been booked as early as now.

A source close to the company said Sports City has already negotiated with one of the top retail brands to occupy the space.