The combined power of sport and steel

Posted by Peter McConnell on 18 March 2014 | 0 Comments


Steel is an essential material in the sports industry. Think about it – this strong material is used in ice hockey skates, football boots, soccer goals, basketball and netball hoops, football goal posts, baseball bats and shot put balls to name just a few. But it doesn’t stop there. The sporting world is also responsible for some of the most impressive steel structures in the world.

Fisht Stadium


Image source: ID1974

Coming in at 779 million US dollars, the Fisht Stadium was the gem of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games buildings. Populous designed the stadium with open sides allowing spectators to see the impressive Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. The roof was constructed using translucent polycarbonate sheets which displayed illuminated digital imagery. According to Damian Lavelle, principal of Populous, there is over 8,000 tonnes of steel in the roof and rigging alone. That’s almost on par with the entire London Stadium. The stadium will now accommodate the 2014 Russian Grand Prix, the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament and a variety of other future sporting and theatrical events.

Beijing National Stadium, China, 2008


Image source: cesc_assawin

This stadium has got to be one of our favourites. The Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Birds Nest due to it’s fascinating appearance, was built for the 2008 Summer Games. The impressive external appearance of the Birds Nest was formed using big steel frames that allow light to shine through from the inside. Within the visually spectacular steel frame is a red concrete seating bowl that can accommodate 80,000 fixed seats and 11,000 temporary seats. Its construction took just under 5 years and cost approximately $33 million. Since the Summer Games the stadium has hosted a number of events, including a performance of the opera Turandot and the 2009 Italian Super Cup.


Rungrado May Day Stadium (Pyongyang, North Korea)



Image source: Gilad Rom

Covering an area of 207,000 square metres with a capacity of 150,000, Rungnado May Day Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the world. It resembles a flower or parachute and is made up of a series of arches that tower more than 60 metres. The construction was no easy task and the roof alone used 11,000 tonnes of steel. Constructed in 1989, the venue was built to facilitate the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students. Since then the stadium has been used for football and athletics matches but has become most famous for the Arirang gymnastics.

Slopestyle Course, Sochi Games


This year’s Olympic debut of new Slopestyle event: the 635 metre ski and snowboard slopestyle course includes 3 steel rail sections and 3 jumps that get progressively bigger. The course resembles a skate park where obstacles allow athletes to perform tricks, giving it great appeal to younger audiences. The course took 500 hours of fabrication, 1.8 million cubic feet of shaped snow and 700 man hours of work to complete.

Arena da Amazônia


Image source: Blog do Planalto

The Arena da Amazônia is just one of the 12 stadiums that will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Vivaldao stadium was the main stadium in the city of Manaus until it was demolished in 2010 to make room for the construction of this new venue. The Arena was designed by the German architecture group gmp Architekten and was created to resemble a traditional indigenous basket. As well as looking spectacular, the steel roof was designed with the area’s climate in mind. The steel structure of the roof works like a gutter and drains tropical rain water effectively while the coating reflects heat to make a cooler environment inside. The Arena da Amazônia will host four matches during the 2014 World Cup and will later be used by local teams.

What’s the most impressive stadium you’ve ever visited?