Players Paradise

Masterplan of the Dubai Sports City.

Construction work on the $2.5 billion Dubai Sports City (DSC) – a 50 million sq ft exclusive mixed-use metropolis that is set to be the first integrated sports city ever constructed – has received a significant boost following the award of two major contracts within the past two months.

Early last month, DSC awarded the main contract for the construction of a Dh300 million ($81.68 million) cricket stadium at the prestigious development to Alpine-Belbadi, a joint venture between Germany-based Alpine Bau Deutschland and local Belbadi Engineering. The contract commences immediately with anticipated completion of the project in the first quarter of 2008.
The contract follows the award of a Dh400 million ($108.90 million) deal to the UAE-based Wade Adams Contracting in January for the project’s infrastructure construction. The deal is one of the single largest private sector infrastructure contracts to be awarded for a local development in the UAE.
Following the contract award, Wade Adams Contracting has started mobilisation with more than 1,500 workers currently on site to launch works on the DSC, including the Victory Heights, a private residential golf community.
The contract involves the construction of 50 km of roads and installation of 70.5 km of potable water piping, 120 km of telecommunications multiple ducts, 54 km of sewerage mains, 29 km of stormwater drainage, 87 km of electrical cable and 41.5 km of irrigation ducts across the DSC and Victory Heights projects.
Wade Adams Contracting had earlier completed the advanced grading works at the site using more than 100 bulldozers, earthmoving machines and heavy plant vehicles to move almost five million cu m of sand.
DSC – the world’s largest sports and cultural destination – is a cornerstone project of Dubailand. Situated along the Emirates Road, the project includes four state-of-the art stadia, sports academies, including a Manchester United soccer schools facility and the world’s first International Cricket Council global cricket academy, residential and commercial real estate, leisure facilities, hotels, numerous entertainment outlets, international schools, a medical centre and the largest dedicated sports shopping mall in the region.
The stadia, sports academies, the Victory Heights, international schools and the shopping mall will be built under the first phase of the project.

Sports venues
DSC will comprise five state-of-the-art sports venues including:
• A 25,000-seat dedicated cricket stadium;
• A 10,000-seat multi-purpose indoor stadium suitable for all hard court sports such as basketball, indoor hockey, volleyball, handball, netball and ice hockey with a removable ice-rink. It will also act as an entertainment centre for concerts and shows;
• A 60,000-seater multipurpose outdoor stadium for rugby, football track and field events; and
• A 5,000-seat outdoor hockey field.
In addition, the DSC includes The Dunes, an 18-hole signature world-class Golf course designed by one of the top golfers in the world Ernie Els, around which the Victory Heights will be built.
The four stadia will be linked by the shopping mall with parking and other spectator facilities. The stadia and retail mall have been designed by Germany-based internationally-renowned architects Gerkan, Marg und Partner (GMP). All playing surfaces and pitch or court dimensions will be pre-approved by the relevant sports international governing body in order to guarantee their suitability for international tournaments and events.
Hubert Nienhoff, a partner of GMP comments: “This will be the first time that a complex of such size has been built anywhere in the world.”
Despite the special characteristics of each stadium, the architecture of the four buildings will create a harmonious overall impression. Their innovative filigree roof support structures not only feature top-quality architectural design but also take into account the local conditions. There will also be a car park for 10,000 cars and a Grand Plaza, which will provide access to the stadia and retail mall.
“The stadia at DSC will set a benchmark for sporting venues in the region and beyond,” says U Balasubramaniam, CEO of DSC. “We are working with the best architects and contractors to ensure that the cricket stadium complies with the standards set down by the ICC – the world governing body of cricket. The Emirates Cricket Board is currently bidding for major international ICC cricket events and the cricket stadium at DSC forms a central part of that bid.”
The 25,000-seat stadium, which is expandable to 30,000, will have state-of-the-art facilities for players, match officials, VIPs, spectators and the media. It will also feature a unique roof structure based on the traditional Arabic tent framework and is expected to become a landmark throughout DSC and Dubailand. Expert pre-qualified contractors in line with ICC standards have been employed to build the cricket pitch.
“Our ambition is develop the DSC as a global centre of excellence for cricket – we will not only have the best cricket stadium in the world but we will also host the first-ever ICC Global Cricket Academy under the helm of Rodney Marsh as director of coaching,” adds Balasubramaniam.
Lighting to the playing field is provided as a ‘ring of fire’ with lights located within the roof structure. Lighting levels will match international standard specifications for night competitions and TV requirements.
The cricket facilities will be developed according to the rules and regulations of the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club 2003) and the ICC standard one-day international playing conditions.
Construction work, meanwhile, is in full swing on The Dunes championship course located at Victory Heights within the DSC complex. The Dunes, Els’ first exclusive golf course in the Middle East, consists of a combination links golf course and a traditional “classical era” design. Work is being carried out by UAE-based Septech and its joint venture partner, Turnpoint Australia under a Dh35 million ($9.53 million) contract.
Troon Golf, a world leader in upscale golf course management, development and marketing, is acting as golf development consultant for The Dunes. Troon will also operate a Butch Harmon School of Golf at the course in partnership with Harmon, the world’s number one ranked golf instructor.
The Dunes with its steep greenside bunkers, grass swales and imaginatively designed greens will present significant challenges for the incoming approach shots, says Balasubramaniam. The course will utilise Tifway 419 Bermuda in all-grassed areas with the exception of the greens, which will contain TifEagle, a fine textured dwarf Bermuda grass conducive to maintaining fast green speeds. Stretching at 7,452 yards, The Dunes has five sets of tees allowing players a selection of different lengths from which to play the golf course and features more than 60 bunkers.
Construction of the golf course, which spans 86 hectares, is scheduled for completion in May next year. Up to 1.1 million cu m of sand has been shifted to enable construction work to proceed.

Sports academies
DSC also hosts a number of world-class sports academies, with some of the best coaches and programmes coming together to train athletes of all ages and skill in one convenient location. It features:
• Butch Harmon School of Golf, the first such facility outside the US. It will include a private indoor/outdoor teaching area, 100,000 sq ft of chipping and bunker area, as well as amenities such as separate clubhouses for men and women;
• The first purpose-built Manchester United Soccer Schools facility anywhere in the world;
• ICC Global Cricket Academy: DSC will host the first ICC Global Cricket Academy (The ICC has permanently moved its headquarters from London to DSC, making this the new global centre for the sport); and
• David Lloyd Tennis Academy.
The complex will also include top-class training facilities including gymnasiums and a 50-m swimming pool as well as a sports rehabilitation centre.

Retail areas
The 1 million sq ft sports mall will include an array of retail plazas featuring shops, markets and boutiques, catering to varied kinds of customer preferences.
Other attractions for the shopper include:
• The central retail hub, which surrounds the promenade of the DSC; and
• Southern retail hub, comprising a variety of shops conveniently located near the academic district of DSC.

Victory Heights
Victory Heights is described as Dubai’s first villa estate with Olympic-standard sport venues at its doorstep. The centrepiece of this development is The Dunes, around which more than 900 elegant three and four-bedroom villas and townhouses will be built.
 “Victory Heights is going to be the hallmark for a truly balanced high-quality villa and townhome residential community,” says Robert Davies, project director of Victory Heights.
Covering an area of 25 million sq ft, the residential community is a joint venture between DSC and Arcapita Investment Bank, a leading international property developer.
The integrated sports community includes local and international schools, retail centre, parks, and recreation facilities, mosques, bike and jogging paths. US-based master developer East West Partners and local architects Diar Consult, are the designers of the luxury villas and on-site amenities. The villas will feature a choice of European classical, Spanish Andalusian and Mediterranean architectural styles.
Another attraction of this community is a Next Generation Club, a cutting-edge fitness, sport and well-being facility.

Other developments
Another premium real estate offering unveiled early this year within the development is Gallery Villas – an exclusive development of 75 Mediterranean-style, luxury, two-storey, detached and attached family homes, located in close proximity to The Dunes.
The Gallery Villas will offer all the benefits of a planned community including international schools, 24-hour medical facilities, open spaces and parklands, shops, cafes, cinemas, restaurants and community centres.
Designed by UAE-based architect, ITD/QHC, Gallery Villas – available with three or five bedrooms – range in size from 2,444 sq ft to 4,553 sq ft and enjoy generous balcony and patio areas along with spacious gardens, with the larger detached residences featuring a driver’s room and guest en-suite bedroom over and above a maid’s room.
The developments planned within DSC include:
• West Gate, which offers distinctive office towers with golf course views and retail plazas. The district also features town houses, single-family residences, and one, two and three bedroom apartments.
• The Promenade, which features one, two and three-bedroom apartments.
• Park View, a district with a sports focus. It is located close to all the academies, and features retail venues for all types of sports, a variety of hotels, a commercial area, and one, two, and three-bedroom apartments.
• The Central District, comprising scenic office towers with views of golf courses and the canal, as well as retail plazas, town houses, single-family homes and one, two and three-bedroom apartments; and
• The Esplanade, at the centre of DSC features one, two and three bedroom apartments, hotels, expansive retail and commercial areas.