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Stadium Development in Sports


Around the world, stadiums have played a major role in the sports industry as avenues for recreation and entertainment for people. While on one hand, they cost much money to build, on the other hand, millions of revenues are collected depending on the publicity, attendance, and popularity of events or games that take place in them. In addition, various benefits such as job creation, elevation of a city’s pride, and status accrue from a stadium. Further, they represent the evolution of technology witnessed by advancement of engineering in the construction of state-of-the-art structures as compared to the past. Besides, both modern states and developing countries contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the sports industry which focuses on innovation, investment, and infrastructure realized through modern stadiums (Price). In addition, they have modernized marketing by showcasing sport through corporate support of various games broadcast on TV. Further, different competitors endorse fast-food companies of their choice, such as KFC, Burger King, and McDonald’s, thus utilizing sport in the stadium to offer ventures and products. This paper analyzes the development of the stadium, its origin, effectiveness, and impact on the hospitality industry.

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The Background to the Development of Stadium

While different governments and kingdoms have evolved across the world, stadiums remain among structures whose origin correlates to the ancient Roman Empire, which was the original inventor of these ventures. This was an enclosure with a large space for exhibitions and athletics, which had an elaborate sitting area for fans or spectators. Also, stadia are derived from ‘stade’, a Greek word denoting a measurement unit of 180-185 meters called footraces where events took place. Besides, its origin is based on the mythological hero Hercules during the Roman Empire who through his exertion set the competition distance for athletes during the first Olympic Games. In 776 BC, the track length was set at six hundred feet, exceeding the early distance of 192 meters, which was unanimously accepted and referred to as ‘Stadion’ (Spampinato). Therefore, the first stadium was a rudimentary elongated “U” shaped athletics field in the VIII BC, comprising 192 and 32 meters in length and width respectively. For example, the Olympia stadium in Greece had a capacity of 45,000 people (Spampinato). Also, it had two entrances for judges and spectators who cheered and watched the athletes.

With time sport became very popular and as a result, many stadiums were built in different towns with similar dimensions and were used for chariot and horse-racing games. For instance, these structures can be found in Ephesus, Delphi, and Athens where the Panathenaic stadium was constructed in 331 BC (Gold and Gold). Consequently, it was rebuilt in 1896 for first festivals that were later known as Olympics. Further, it was renovated in 2004 when Greece held its international competitions.

Features of Stadium Development

The architectural design has undergone tremendous changes from the early structures to the present-day modern stadium. It started with the elongated “U” built through the excavating of tiers on level ground and sometimes along a slope. These were models by both the Romans and Greeks for the public, used for amphitheater and theatre performances. Started in the 5th century in Greece, the former comprised of basic cores, orchestra and scene (Spampinato). It was arranged in a semi-circular natural slope towards the performance site, scene, and beyond; to the surrounding landscape turning into the central and most integral part of the theatre. For example, the Epidaurus theater extended into the Peloponnesus mountains while Hellenistic Taormina reached the Etna area, thus showing how these structures shaped the landscape of their surroundings. The Roman amphitheater was built in the 1st century and it was different and modern as compared to the ones in Greece (Spampinato). All tiers were elevated and it consisted of superimposed rows that were in a raised level making spectators focus on the central area or arena during the fights of gladiators. Verona Arena, the Colosseum, Flavian, and Arles amphitheaters are some of the examples of the stadiums during ancient times. Although the transition from Greece to Rome did not lead to immediate changes, the introduction of the circus led to the evolution of sports and the origin of hippodrome and stadium during the 1st and 2nd centuries (Spampinato). The “U” in previous models was drawn but instead, its open side was closed. Also, the area for spectators was made of stones and the tiers made of wood were arranged in a slope. The tracks were separated by low central boulders and pillars at their exterior that showed the turning points. The circuses were built near the palace and did not only serve as sports grounds but also, were used for public festivities.

Build in the IV century during the Roman Empire, the Constantinople and Maxentius were among the largest stadiums in ancient history. These circuses were characterized by large dimensions that could accommodate crowds of more than 200,000 people (Spampinato). However, as time went by their original purposes lost meaning and they became avenues for public events. As a result, the importance of sports shifted and as Christianity started spreading, some games were banned as they were deemed as forms of paganism. For instance, Emperor Theodosius prohibited the competitions which were known as festivals in 394 A.D (Gold and Gold). This went on until the Renaissance period when the sport was reintroduced with the entry of modern football where teams consisted of 27 players without any rule.

Modern Stadiums

During the 19th century, the first football clubs and other sports federations were introduced. Combined with the industrial revolution in Europe, especially in Britain, football and rugby became popular in cities where populations had dramatically increased due to urbanization. As such, modern stadiums became part of public policy and financing through the engagement of the people on subsidy debates geared towards their construction (Kellison et al. 321). Therefore, there was a need for various municipalities and governments to construct facilities that could accommodate the large population of spectators. Consequently, the early structures were meant to host large crowds who could watch live events and there was no T.V or radio coverage. Tiers were of concrete with small areas for special people to sit as the majority of the spectators crammed into the embarkments standing. On the contrary, Britain became the first country to build a football facility that had rectilinear stands that ran parallel to the pitch which was modeled into a stadium for the Games of 1908 held in London. This structure had continuous tiers that were placed along the athletic track perimeter.

The Commercialization of Stadiums

From the 1950s to the 80s various disasters resulted in the stadiums, specifically in Britain. For instance, the 1989 Sheffield Hillsborough overcrowding mayhem, wooden stands fire, and violence from hooligans led to the death of many people as indicated in the Taylor Report (Sampson). This led to the UK government prioritizing spectators’ safety thereby introducing new measures to be adopted in all structures and they had to be all-seater. The recommendations from the Taylor Report were adopted by other European countries, thus leading to the modern, accessible, safe, and comfortable structures that attracted a diversified group of spectators (Sampson). As a result, a business opportunity arose and the sponsoring of these activities. Besides, the latest report by the Federation for International Football Association (FIFA) on European clubs’ player transfer reveals how soccer has become a lucrative business. Consequently, 7.35 billion USD was realized from the turn over, an increase of 5.8 percent compared to 2018 (Barros Filho et al. 1). Further, the football market in Europe for 2017/2018 reached 28.4 billion Euros. In addition, the football sector in Brazil contributed 0.72 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018, translating to R$ 11 billion (Barros Filho et al.). In spite of the economic aspect of the teams, soccer spectating has remained one of the major entertainments and leisure activities in society. This can be realized against the background of better facilities and services offered to the clients by respective stadiums.

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Current stadiums are flexible and are attune to commercial activities. These have become business ventures where specific modifications must be met during their construction (Kennedy and Kennedy). To exploit big crowds during sporting events, they have been built with sophisticated technology that comprises mobile roofs, playing fields, and stands that can be converted to the requirement of an event. Also, stadiums are designed to offer high lighting standards aimed at enhancing television broadcasting. As a result, this has led to sports’ popularity and promotion of the prestige of cities through the internet and TV adverts. People can view photos and unique features of stadiums, which are classified by sports bodies. Their architectural and technological designs remain the key features considered during the award to host international events.


There are many benefits that accrue from modern stadiums, especially in the developed states across the world. Kennedy and Kennedy give an example of the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) as a body at the forefront of upgrading and modernizing stadiums to communal hubs, thus enhancing spectator experience during matchdays (95). Further, the introduction of surveillance and stewardship during games has increased security and safety which has boosted the popularity of sports. Also, the provision of catering services and modern accessible technology such as free WIFI has attracted more people from the non-sports communities (Kennedy and Kennedy). As a result, there is generation of more revenues from the sale of tickets, restaurants, and games coverage by media companies.

In addition, stadiums have led to easy accessibility to hospitality services such as food and accommodations, and other leisure activities during matchdays. The renovation and remodeling of stadiums Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain saw the new structures becoming avenues for fans to consume football brands as well as the image rejuvenation of both cities. Events packages and hospitality form part of the sources of revenues for the two clubs (Ginesta). Therefore, they improve the image of the cities and their popularity among the fans. Besides, the National Football League in the US has led to many benefits. While it has increased revenue, its popularity has led to 32 teams benefiting from equity derived from the perceptions of the consumers on the league’s brand name. For example, the Cowboys have secured multiple sponsorship deals with the Ford Centre, Nike, and the STAR running into hundreds of millions of dollars. This has enabled them to sell naming rights, thus contributing to their enormous revenues (Abreu and Spradley). This has enabled the teams to have bargaining power for funding of stadiums in host cities, thus increasing local revenue sources.

Stadium Development and Sports Business

The development of modern stadiums is a lucrative venture that forms an integral part of the sports business. Activities such as advertising campaigns and marketing are conducted in the stadiums. Many companies engage in promotions in numerous ways depending on the venue size and type of events. Further, they form avenues for reaching a mammoth of consumers where sports and beverage companies promote their brands. To generate profits and cover costs, many soccer clubs use stadiums to generate revenue, hence remaining competitive. They achieve this through the matchday sale of tickets, commercial and broadcasting rights (Silveira et al. 50). This is realized through the availability of a modern stadium with the latest technologies and other amenities to attract more people. Besides, there is a correlation between the venue, identification with the club, and loyalty by fans, which has an impact on sports consumer purchasing decisions (Silveira et al.). Combining all the aforementioned factors illustrates the role that stadiums play in the business of sports.

The Effectiveness of Stadium Development

While many countries display their advancement in architectural technology through the construction of various projects, modern stadiums have spurred tremendous economic growth across many cities in the world. To this end, their development has been effective in promoting sports. While highlighting the impact of the clubs in the UK Premier League due to good stadiums, Roberts et al. (575) asserts that they have become drivers of the local economy in their respective cities. Further, by using the example of Swansea City soccer club, they point out the regional economic impact of the team to be around 46 million Euros and the creation of 216 jobs (Roberts et al.). Moreover, stadiums development is effective in the fact that teams use the infrastructure to make investments aimed at its expansion and maintenance. Besides, during match days, local economies rise due to the revenues realized from sport-related activities such as tourism and tickets sale during the events.

The latest technology in modern stadiums has not only led to the development of the surrounding cities but also, the communities within. Conversely, due to the consumption of large amounts of energy by the venues, managements are changing to green energy as the environmentally safe sources. As a result, major football clubs in Europe have changed their power consumption by installing battery storage systems. For instance, the Arsenal club in the UK has embraced this technology, which provides an alternative to electricity to the surrounding region, generating revenue and supporting the country’s climate change goals (Price). It uses a lithium-ion battery charged by electricity to generate surplus power that is supplied to consumers and used in the stadium. Ajax FC in the Netherlands and the national team have embraced the technology that does not only provide energy but a back-up during games in case of a blackout. The batteries from Nissan are reusable, thus enhancing the car battery circular economy (Price). This development has been effective because due to unpredictable weather, renewable energy was not plausibly leading to the postponement of matches during such moments making broadcasting and other franchise lose money.

Another area where the development of stadiums has been effective is in sports brands and their influence on the behavior of consumers. As a result, game attendance is attached to the credibility of a team due to its label association or sponsorship. Besides, there is a relationship between clubs and leagues through brands. Therefore, decisions made by the management are tailored to retain and promote both team and individual brands (Kunkel et al. 317). Further, consumers who consists of spectators and fans remain the main target for investors in sports. For instance, in the US Major League Baseball, the 30 teams that compete have a brand value of over 24.3 billion dollars. However, individual franchises have their own contributions to the league. For example, Tampa Bay is valued at $485 million while the New York Yankees has $ 2.5 million (Kunkel et al.). This motivates the management to assist various teams to generate revenues, thus maintaining the relationship which is beneficial to both groups.

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Reflections on the Impact of Stadiums on the Tourism Business in the Hospitality Industry

Stadiums have become the major contributors to the development of cities. They generate income from a range of sources such as sales, rent, and advertisements. Further, they impact the surrounding communities indirectly by offering employment opportunities in their restaurants, leisure parlors, and other training facilities. For instance, in South Africa, stadiums in Durban and Cape Town have contributed to the hospitality industry through their tourism efforts. The hosting of the World Cup in 2010 showcased the country and its wildlife as international newspapers and channels highlighted Durban and other areas like KwaZulu-Natal during the competition (Castellanos-García and Jose). In addition, in the attempt to use their stadiums optimally, Spanish clubs have ensured that events packages and hospitality activities are included during games at the venues. This has transformed the stadiums into business avenues commodities that spectators need tour guides to explore various areas and services offered (Ginesta). Therefore, modern stadiums are not only places for watching matches, but also, they are luxury avenues for visitors to explore and enjoy.

Conversely, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has negatively affected the industry, where bars, restaurants, and hotels around stadiums whose main source of revenue was match days’ traffic make losses. Therefore, the loss of spectators has not only led to decreased sales, but also, spillover effects such as loss of jobs and fewer tax collections by governments, thus leading to financial recession. As a result, I foresee a bleak future in the hospitality industry as the curfews are imposed and games are played in empty stadiums.


In conclusion, the development of stadiums from the ancient structures during the Roman Empire to the modern facilities which have become the sources of pride and prestige for many cities have undergone tremendous transformations. Further, benefits to spectators during match days such as free Wi-Fi, improvement of surveillance which has enhanced their security has led to the increase of the fans, thus generating more revenue. In addition, modern stadiums have enabled clubs to attract sponsorship from different brands and own TV rights. Besides, they have created jobs for many people who are employed to work at different facilities inside. On the contrary, the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020 has destabilized their functions and as a result, job losses and lack of spectators have led to the dwindling of revenues.

Works Cited

Abreu, Marcos A., and Brandon D. Spradley. “The National Football League’s Brand and Stadium Opportunities.” The Sport Journal, 2016.

Barros Filho, Marcos A., et al. “The Influence of Service Quality on Satisfaction and Behavioral Intentions of Football Spectators: A Study in Pernambuco Football.” Journal of Physical Education, vol. 32, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1-12.

Castellanos-García, Pablo and Sánchez Santos, José. Public Sector and Professional Sport. Sports and Economics, FUNCAS, 2019.

Ginesta, Xavier. “The business of stadia: Maximizing the use of Spanish Football venues.” Tourism and Hospitality Research, vol. 17, no. 4, 2016, pp. 411-423.

Gold, John R., and Margaret M. Gold. Olympic Cities: City Agendas, Planning, and the World’s Games, 1896 – 2020. Routledge, 2016.

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Kellison, Timothy, et al. “Global Perspectives on Democracy and Public Stadium Finance.” Journal of Global Sport Management, vol. 5, no. 4, 2019, pp. 321-348.

Kennedy, Peter, and David Kennedy. Football in Neo-Liberal Times: A Marxist Perspective on the European Football Industry. Routledge, 2016.

Kunkel, Thilo, et al. “The Effect of League Brand on the Relationship Between the Team Brand and Behavioral Intentions: A Formative Approach Examining Brand Associations and Brand Relationships.” Journal of Sport Management, vol. 31, no. 4, 2017, pp. 317-332.

Price, Sam. “The Modern Stadium: A Hub for Sustainable Development – Sustainability Report.” Sustainability Report –The Inside Track on Sport Sustainability, 2019. Web.

Roberts, Annette, et al. “What is the Value of a Premier League Football Club to a Regional Economy?” European Sport Management Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 5, 2016, pp. 575-591.

Sampson, Mark. “The Transformation of Elite-Level Association Football in England, 1970 to the Present.” QMRO Home, 2017.

Silveira, Marcelo P., et al. “Factors Influencing Attendance at Stadiums and Arenas.” Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 37, no. 1, 2019, pp. 50-65.

Spampinato, Angelo. “Architecture: Stadium History.” World Stadiums. Web.

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