The Emirates Stadium Project Brief Historical Construction Essay

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The Emirates Stadium, 2006, is built on a former brownfield industrial estate (figure 1) known as Ashburton Grove in Islington, London; to provide a home ground for Arsenal FC (DB-N 2008b).

Figure 1; Arcadis AYH (2004)

The capacity of Arsenal FC's former stadium, Highbury; was small in comparison to other "top-flight" status football clubs and therefore expansions were proposed. However, due to surrounding transport and residential amenities, further to local authority planning objections, the room for expansion was unfeasible (Stadium FAQ's, 2010).

Sporting successes at Arsenal FC had widened their fan base and the demand for match tickets was outweighing the supply. Stakeholders within the ownership of the club were subsequently underutilised and opportune revenue was missed; this was sacrificial to the prospects of future investment (DB-N 2008).

A "key business network of Arsenal FC's is their corporate hospitality sector" (Stapleton, M. 2010); as a means of securing deals for the benefit of the clubs financial capital. Highbury however, was incapable of accommodating the expanding wealth of prospective clients bearing interest in the club. The proposition of enhancing corporate relationships and building 102 more corporate boxes was a key figure in the framework plans for a new stadium (Arcadis AYH 2004).

After selective consideration of various locations suitable for Arsenal FC and their respective fans it was therefore decided that a new stadium was to be developed on the Ashburton Grove site (Key Facts, 2010). The capabilities of generating greater capital to enable the club to financially contest with some of the biggest football teams in Europe showed an unwavering determination for the clubs advancement.

This was the birth of the 'Emirates Stadium' project.

Project structure in an economic and business context

Islington borough council considered Ashburton Grove a waning area and wanted the project to form a big part with its regeneration; "…this wasn't just about the football stadium…this was about the regeneration of the area" (Stapleton, M. 2010). Subsequently, the LA required that Arsenal FC buy out the existing occupiers on the Ashburton grove site before construction could commence (DB-N 2008). This required the re-location of the council-owned waste recycling plant (figure 2).

Figure 2; Arcadis AYH (2004)

The sale of existing surplus land assets was necessary to enable their financiers to provide sufficient supporting gain for a case in obtaining a large loan to fund the remainder of an estimated £275m (Arcadis AYH, 2004). This involved the demolition and redevelopment of Highbury into an allotment of luxury housing units, now known as 'Highbury Square' (figure 3); these sales are currently being paid in instalments to Arsenal FC with the total return predicted to exceed £300m gross (Highbury Square 2010).

Sportswear manufacture 'Nike', also contributed to the project funding through their multi-million pound sponsorship deal that is still binding at present.

Figure 3; GBC (2009)

Ashburton Properties, a subservient of Arsenal Holdings plc, was created in order to gain access to a loan over £200m from a banking assembly that specialised in stadium facilities management and funding. Noteworthy banking companies within this assembly include: the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland plc), The Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks plc (SoA & AR 2008/09).

Towards the end of 2004, a £100m corporate sponsorship deal had been struck between 'Emirate Airlines' and Arsenal FC. One of the significant terms of this deal comprised of Emirates owning the naming rights of the stadium of which led to the stadium being known as the 'Emirates Stadium' (figure 4) and not it's original 'Ashburton Grove' (DB-N 2008).

Figure 4; Binfo (2007)

Project stakeholders

(See Appendix 1)

Leading UK building and civil engineering company 'Sir Robert McAlpine' was awarded the contract as the main contractor for the Emirates stadium project in January 2002. SRM have constructed similar projects in the past e.g. Hampden Park in Glasgow and the Centenary Stand at West Ham United FC (SRM 2006).

Global designs practice 'Populous' (formerly known as 'HOK Sport') were responsible for the architecture and design of the stadium. They are currently leading architects on many large projects of similar nature throughout the UK and across the globe e.g. Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in Wales and the Wembley National Stadium, London (Populous, 2010). They worked very well with UK-based consultant engineers 'Buro Happold' to provide solutions in both structural and services engineering design to the stadium (Buro Happold, 2010).

'Arcadis AYH' (formerly AYH) were initially appointed as project and cost managers to the project, however, their role quickly expanded as the administering and relocation of over 80 businesses (providing over 2,600 jobs) at Arsenal FC's former site was required. This allowed for commercial and residential developments within Islington to be cross-funded and eventually made provision for the new housing allotments and a new waste and recycling centre for the Islington Borough (Arcadis AYH 2006).

The construction team was "multi-faceted and therefore individual companies became dependant on one another to complete their own tasks" (Stapleton, M. 2010).

SRM's 'Theory Y' leadership style (McGregor) promoted an ethos of trust between stakeholders and therefore a more democratic-to-paternalistic approach to problem solving was created (Hallam & Reed 2004). Regular board meetings took place to analyse the team's progression; this encouraged responsibility and motivated individuals in their role (Hallam & Reed 2005).

All contractors and consultants directly involved with the project were entirely site-based throughout the construction phase. This allowed any problems or disputes to be resolved quickly with minimal expense (Stapleton, M. 2010).

Project programme

(See Appendix 2)

Sustainability issues

Buro Happold's engineering expertise in developing the structure of the Emirates Stadium intended to "minimise the environmental impact and reflect the aspirations of the local community". One of their most noticeable design solutions implemented into the structural components, is the clear downward sloping roof that forms a natural 'dish' of which augments the stadiums micro-climate (figure 5).

Figure 5; BSD-Live (2006)

When designing the project, Populous tried to coalesce the needs of the end-users with an environmentally sound structure. As the Architects of the stadium, their ideas implemented took account of multiple contributors to the sustainable agenda that is ever-growing in the UK, particularly within urban areas such as greater London.

The incorporation of natural 'passive' ventilation systems throughout the stadium has made way for a more pleasant environmental climate whilst also deducing the need for mechanical ventilation systems of which can add to the released CO2 emissions count. Extensive digital prototypes were created to provide maximum efficiency of natural sunlight and ventilation e.g. (figure 6).

Figure 6; RFC (2004)

Solar power systems through glass cladding and skylights have also been fitted. The power saved with this method will potentially generate revenue through the lifetime of the stadium.

'Desso Sports Systems'; a company that specialise in artificial turfs for sports and recreation currently provide the stadium with their pitch. They say that their synthetic grass fibres can be recycled for "…civil-engineering applications…or as artificial turf". Their sustainable products extend to the cleaning of the turf where only environmentally friendly, biodegradable chemicals are suitable.

All of the surrounding new-build developments have been built to standards set out under the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Eco Homes guidelines. These form part of the Code for Sustainable Homes; a benchmark in voluntary frameworks for sustainable development.

An Environmental Traffic System was incorporated to make greater use of public transport and more environmentally methods of travel to the stadium. As part of the system plan, minimal parking spaces were accommodated for at the stadium and investment was focused towards underground and mainline stations. Two new bridges (North and south) costing £16m were constructed over the north railway line as part of the whole regeneration project and to maximize access for public transport (figure 7).

Special provision was also made for supporters traveling to games with extra buses and coaches being made available to season-ticket holders and visitors.

Currently, 70% of Arsenal FC supporters travel to the stadium via means other than private motors.

Figure 7; SRM (2004)

Attached to the project, was a LA initiated Section 106 planning obligation under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Before planning consent from the LA was given, Arsenal FC's liaison committee had to make a compulsory contribution to support and facilitate the project area; this came in the form of a one-off £6m pound contribution to the Newlon Housing Trust to help develop affordable social housing. So far over 2,500 new homes have been built in Islington as part of the regeneration project, an estimated 1,000 (40%) of these have been officially deemed 'affordable'.

Risks involved

Time was "of the essence" in delivering the practical completion certificate; July 2006. Due to the format of football fixtures, it was essential that the stadium was completed in an out-of-season period as the Football Association (FA) currently does not allow venue changes whilst mid-season. This put a lot of strain on the projects programme as constant reviews and amendments were made, relying on immediate co-operation from stakeholders.

Due to the procurement in a Design and Build contract (Appendix 3), SRM assumed greater financial risk and this is reflected in the price. The time of the tender and negotiation period was a lot longer than would have been compared to another form of contract.

There has always been a real stigma in the construction industry concerning football stadiums and their development. Typically, many large contractors have found that the complexities and time consummation involved are not sufficiently rewarded with the tender. However, Arsenal FC's MD, Keith Edelman, believes "the financial risk of the emirates is minimal as the major engineering challenges have been met"; suggesting the guarantee of future income to maintain the stadium is secure.

Islington borough council maintained many compulsory purchase orders on the land required for the project. There was a great deal of risk purchasing these locations in such a volatile urban area as the dependence on revitalising the community and the promotion of business were of paramount importance to winning-over the local residency.

For over 20 years Islington has seen nothing but failed development; extensive research and development in programming the project and rejuvenation of the borough was therefore critical. If businesses had been displaced without re-investment to maintain their survival, the fiscal stimulus for the borough would be completely deduced.

Reflection on project's management

Emirates stadium is an ideal case study as to how a private project should be managed in terms of expectations, scope, plan and resources. It recognises that project management is applied and not an abstract discipline and collaboration between stakeholders needs to be at the forefront of the projects supply chain management.

Procuring the project, from the client's perspective, the 'CQT' (figure 8) paradigm would have been to the highest quality, at the lowest cost and the shortest time.




Figure 8; adapted from Hackett et al (2007)

However, this wasn't viable due to the external and internal provisions discussed and a compromise had to be sought, based on the client's priorities.

'Time' and 'Cost' were the most important factors needed to be considered when procuring the project due to the priority of each criterion (Appendix 4). Therefore, the client's procurement could be said to interpret a 'CQT' like such (figure 9):




Figure 9; adapted from Hackett et al (2007)

As the programme was extensive, the PM could not manage all of the areas in sufficient detail to be sure of progress and resolution of issues all the time. This is where the delegation of roles and responsibility was important to ensure the project went as smooth as possible; hence, why the emirates stadium was completed "on-budget and two weeks before the tendered completion date".

"The project has gone extremely well and we would like to thank the whole project team, who have done an absolutely fantastic job for us and delivered probably the best club stadium in Europe" (Friar, K. 2006).