One of the key themes when talking about stadiums, or large sports infrastructures in general, is the urban regeneration that they are able to promote. These interventions imply, first of all, an improvement in the quality of the area, often chosen in degraded conditions and requiring rehabilitation, and an increase in job opportunities; in addition we can consider factors such as the realization of services, inside and outside the structure, the development of local mobility or the promotion of safety in the neighborhood: all conditions that positively influence the life of the local community. In addition, the new generation of large infrastructures has understood how to promote environmental sustainability and participate in the health of the area and the city, going well beyond the now outdated idea of a traditional sports facility.
To illustrate how a stadium can become a vehicle for urban regeneration, he gives us the example of the Johan Cruijff Arena, home of Ajax, a stadium from the 90s which, however, is still to be considered avant-garde today. Thanks to his high-tech approach, he contributed to the development of the entire neighborhood and still supports it today. Among the numerous examples, just think that it has an Innovation Lab for research on the Smart City theme, or that it is equipped with energy accumulators connected to more than 4 thousand solar panels with which it is supplied energy that can be exchanged with the community: even, in the event of a blackout, the arena itself is able to support the entire neighborhood.
These major projects can be accompanied by proposals from a social perspective to be developed in the area. In this way, the spaces generated can be experienced in deconstructed perspective by the whole community and will play a role of promoters of inclusion in the widest of meanings, as well as health.
To give an example, let’s shift our attention to the Premier League, a league admired by all for its futuristic stadiums and the commitment of its clubs to their territories. It is here that perhaps you can find the best examples of stadiums such as Community Hub, a space that aims to enhance the club-community relationship by providing various services, creating opportunities for growth and development for the territory. A place in which to cultivate widespread sports participation with projects that involve various recipients (schools, associations, citizens, etc.), but also where to offer opportunities for training, aggregation and sharing.
Speaking of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, an incredible stadium thinking only of revenues, which already in the planning phase had provided spaces for the community. The reference is above all to the Arsenal Hub, a building inaugurated in 2015 to complete the redevelopment project part of the construction of the Gunners stadium. The structure consists of an indoor artificial grass field where countless activities are carried out, including free football sessions for children and people with disabilities, or other sports and social inclusion initiatives. Then there are offices, meeting rooms and classrooms where training courses are held and where neighborhood associations are hosted.
In the end, there is also the example of Everton which, where Goodison Park will be decommissioned, is planning to create numerous reference facilities for the area, including a school for NEET reintegration projects. This should come as no surprise, however, as in England it is common for clubs to undertake redevelopment of urban areas, facilities and pitches, as part of their commitment to the community.