Stadium 974: What happens next to the first temporary World Cup stadium?

The first ever temporary World Cup stadium will soon be dismantled after hosting seven matches in the space of two weeks at Qatar 2022.

Stadium 974 – named after Qatar’s international calling code and the number of shipping containers used in its construction – was one of seven stadiums constructed for the tournament, while an eighth stadium was extensively redeveloped.

The entire steel structure of Stadium 974 can be reused for another World Cup or major sporting event either as a venue of the same size or several smaller facilities.

Qatar The stadium has been called a “beacon of sustainability”.external link As part of its pledge to deliver the world’s first carbon-neutral World Cup.

Beside seven new stadiums, Qatar has a new airport, metro system, roads and about 100 new hotels – but it has faced intense scrutiny over its handling of the tens of thousands of migrant workers used to build the infrastructure.

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Stadium 974 will be used for fashion shows and concerts in the coming days, with a spokesperson for the Qatar 2022 Organizing Committee saying that the “exact timetable for complete dismantling and re-equipment” has not yet been finalized.

So how sustainable is the Stadium 974 project? Where and when will the stadium be reused?

A glimpse into the future?

Construction workers moved to the site on Friday, December 9, to begin dismantling Stadium 974
Construction workers moved to the site on December 9 to “remove the stadium from tournament mode.”

The 44,089-capacity 974 stadium – on Doha’s waterfront – features a modular steel frame, multicolored shipping containers, which can be seen from outside the stadium, domestic toilets and food and beverage kiosks.

It was the only stadium built for the World Cup without air conditioning, so it only hosted evening matches, culminating in Brazil’s Round of 16 victory over South Korea on 5 December.

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The use of shipping containers and recycled steel helped reduce waste generated and construction time compared to other new venues.

Qatar and designers Fenwick Iribarren Architects said they aimed to avoid building a “white elephant” – a space that is unused or rarely used after the tournament, as has been proven after the previous three World Cups in Russia, Brazil and South Africa.

Environmental watchdog group Carbon Market Watch said if the reuse of existing demountable structures could be replicated on a large scale, it could make bidding for major sporting events “affordable to developing countries” because the costs would be shared among several countries hosting different versions.

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A report on Stadium 974 commissioned by FIFA and presented by emissions reduction experts also noted this advantage, and added that it could allow stadiums to be built in more central and “accessible” locations, reducing “fan travel within the city” during tournaments.

Organizers also said they would donate 170,000 seats from other stadiums to developing countries in a bid to make them more sustainable and avoid underutilization in the future. However, Carbon Market Watch said that “no concrete plans” for seat distribution have been found.

Environmentalists have called the claim that the Qatar World Cup will be carbon neutral “dangerous and misleading”. A tournament can have a carbon footprint three times higher than stated.

The importance of reuse

The FIFA report compared the emissions from the construction of the 974 stadium to the average emissions of the four permanent stadiums of the same capacity of 40,000-45,000.

It found that a temporary stadium “initially emits more carbon emissions due to the use of carbon-intensive materials such as metal and steel” – as opposed to primarily concrete in permanent stadiums – allowing it to be disassembled and reassembled multiple times.

So, as it stands, Stadium 974 has a higher carbon footprint than similar permanent stadiums built for Qatar 2022.

In order for a temporary stadium to have a lower total footprint than multiple permanent ones, Carbon Market Watch said it “depends on how often, and how often, the stadium is moved and repackaged.”

FIFA’s study assessed three different scenarios for the future of the 974 Stadium, in which it is reused once, twice or thrice in a series of different locations.

It found that if the temporary stadium is only reused once, it must be moved “within the total land and sea travel distance of 7,033 kilometres” to be “environmentally beneficial” than building two permanent stadiums. It also highlighted the environmental benefits of the stadium being repurposed within the region, or in Qatar specifically.

This maximum travel figure rises to 40,118 km overall for two reuses and 72,616 km for three.

All three scenarios are also modeled after a temporary stadium that spends four years at the first site and at each subsequent site, before running the remainder of the 60-year life at its final destination.

Where does the stadium go?

It appears that no decision has been made regarding the future uses or locations of Stadium 974.

Carbon Market Watch said that while organizers highlighted the temporary, demountable nature of the stadium, we were unable to identify any specific plans for where, if any, the stadium would be moved.

There are reports that Stadium 974 could be sent to Uruguay,external link which is set to be part of a joint bid with Argentina, Chile and Paraguay for the 2030 World Cup.

Uruguay is about 13,000km from Doha, so if the temporary stadium were to be moved there, it would have to be reused again at a third site to be more environmentally beneficial than building separate new stadiums all around.

In response to a question about future plans for the 974 stadium and any possible locations, the organizing committee said: “Qatar is on track to deliver the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup.

“This means that all infrastructure projects – including the eight stadiums – must meet stringent sustainability standards.

“While building it, we recycled and reused where possible and implemented a wide range of energy and water efficiency solutions. In addition, sustainably sourced materials were used and innovative heritage plans were implemented to ensure the tournament leaves no ‘white elephants’ behind.

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