Munic's iconic stadium

Photo Essay: Sports stadia around the globe

Whether architectural masterpieces or cripplingly expensive white elephants - or both - the iconic stadiums at the heart of major sports events are always controversial. We take a look at some structures from the recent past to see how well they’ve blended in after the big game...

Sochi’s new sports stadiums have escaped much of the negative publicity that has been fired at Russia since its successful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. But how have other cities’ major sports constructions fared following their initial sporting event usage?

1 Munich’s iconic 69,901 capacity stadium is essentially a colossal rubber ring, stabilised by 120,000m³ of concrete. Its 2,874 ETFE-foil air panels light up in red, white or blue to represent Munich’s three resident football teams. The stadium is also home to the largest underground car park in Europe.

2 Originally created as a visual landmark for the 2006 Asian Games, the Aspire Tower, designed by architect Hadi Simaan and AREP and engineer Ove Arup and Partners is one component of the Doha Sports City. The complex also includes the Al Khalifa stadium, a 40,000 capacity sports venue, the Aspire Academy and the Hamad Aquatic Centre.

3 Inspired by the study of Chinese ceramics, the innovative steel mesh exterior of the Beijing National Stadium, designed by renowned artist Ai Wei-Wei, earned the stadium its nickname ‘the Bird’s Nest’. Like many ex-Olympic stadiums, the Bird’s Nest has become an urban white elephant, unable to attract investment to continue its legacy after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

4 Featuring the first fully retractable grass pitch in the USA, the University of Phoenix’s 64,300 seat stadium it also features a fully retractable roof, making it one of the best examples of multi-purpose stadiums in the world. In 2015 it will host Super Bowl XLIX, one of the biggest events in the US sporting calender.

5 Hailed as the second biggest stadium in Europe and home to the most toilets in any venue in the world (2,618) the  90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium in London was built to replace the iconic original, which had been built in 1923. Designed by prolific British architects Foster and Partners, the stadium features a retractable roof and cost £798m to build.

6 Now home to a waterpark, the Watercube National Aquatics Centre was the aquatics venue for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Situated in the Olympic Park in Beijing, the exterior of the stadium is made up of 100,000m² of ETFE pillows that are only 0.2mm thick, which allow more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, improving energy efficiency by 30 per cent.

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