King Abdullah Sport City in Jeddah
The Kingdom’s Western Province gets an important new landmark for the multi-use sports arena at the King Abdullah Sports City (KASC). It opened on May 1 to host the final of the King’s Cup.
Located about 50 km from Jeddah, King Abdullah Sports City is in a league of its own, joining the great sporting venues in the world. It also has unique features that surpass many of the world’s best.
It has already taken its place as an iconic architectural expression on the Jeddah and Saudi skyline but, behind the facade, the KASC is more than just a sports venue — it is a pillar of engineering excellence that boasts the latest in large-venue technology from the grass on the pitch, to a cutting-edge external design that promotes energy efficiency and natural air cooling.
From the Madinah Road and the Makkah-Madinah Expressway — two of the main arteries traveling north out of Jeddah — the awe-inspiring stadium comes into definition. Its bulbous outline, adorned with Arabian-style exterior design, appears like a jewel rising out of the sand.
KASC is going to be pivotal for the onward journey of the Kingdom toward athletic excellence.
“In recognition of the importance of sports, its benefits and role in the progress of humanity, and out of keenness on the welfare of Saudi youth, we have decided to establish the King Abdullah Sports City,” King Abdullah said in a 2009 royal decree.
The KASC vision is to promote health, economic and social welfare through sports, to encourage social interactions between Saudi citizens and the world and to elevate the Kingdom’s international athletic performance.
To this end, a world-class sporting facility, alongside cultural landmarks, will help advance the health of Saudi Arabia and positively develop its youth through sporting activities.
However, the vision is not just restricted to the local and the regional. One of the chief objectives is for it to be a globally recognized as a sports venue capable of attracting international events, with multifunctional sports, recreation, cultural and training facilities that will be economically, culturally and socially and environmentally sustainable.
Spectators will enjoy a crowd-management system that sees them guided conveniently to allocated seats, and free Wi-Fi allows spectators to stay connected throughout events.
Other unique factors are the four locker rooms for players, which mean that two semi-final games could be played in one day. There are separate offices for managers and separate locker rooms for coaches and a warm-up area for players with synthetic turf flooring so that they can warm up with boots on. There are flash media interview studios near the locker rooms and a state-of-the-art press conference room. More than 150 paintings by Saudi artists, displayed around all parts of the stadium, turn every hallway into an art exhibit.
KASC was constructed on 3 million square meters. It also includes a 60,000-capacity football stadium which comfortably meets the standards of the International Football Association (FIFA). One of the most distinguishing features of this stadium is that it does not include an athletics track, which puts the spectators at the heart of the event and makes it more enjoyable to them.
Another distinguishing feature is that KASC has met requirements of spectators with special needs in its design. In addition to elevators and toilets, there are hundreds of parking spots and seats for them and their companions reserved at premium locations.
The stadium’s two massive 9.5×16-meter screens add more visual enjoyment and excitement for spectators. Among its unique facilities are three outdoor football playgrounds, four football arenas, six tennis courts, outdoor running tracks and facilities as well as an office for the General Presidency for Youth Welfare.
The main stadium has nine static and 15 mobile camera locations that will help TV stations broadcast the events at the highest international standards.
The spectator seating area consists of three levels aimed at providing very clear vision to the pitch, and a canopy of hard cloth and steel mesh protects spectators from sunlight and rains.
Sports Hall: The Sports Hall is a sport specific venue for basketball, volleyball, handball, five-a-side football, badminton and table tennis. It is fully air conditioned, and it has been conceived as a “black box” to meet federation and broadcast requirements. All sports will be supported for international and high definition (HD) televising. The design maximizes flexibility and shares facilities with the stadium. Other cultural and exhibition events can be held within the building’s capacity limit, services provisions and infrastructure.
Athletics Stadium: The Athletics Stadium will boast a seating capacity of 1,000 seats and that can be extended to 2,000 seats if required. It has been designed to host National Class 2 competitions. It features an eight-lane, 400-meter track, nine lanes straight and a natural grass infield. Spectators in the Athletics Stadium will be protected from the glare of the sun and the elements.
King Abdullah requested Saudi Aramco to tackle the project, and the result is a set of facilities engineered and constructed to the highest standards employing the latest technology for energy efficiency, safety and the comfort of spectators and athletes alike.