Local organizers of the 2022 World Cup say a contract has been awarded to refurbish Khalifa International Stadium, narrowing the final list of venues that will be used for the international football tournament.
Khalifa stadium, located in the Aspire Zone, is the fourth facility confirmed by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is overseeing Qatar’s World Cup preparations.
Qatar initially proposed using 12 stadia to host the World Cup, but has been in discussion with FIFA about reducing the number of facilities. Committee officials say that the country’s small geographic size means that fewer stadia will be required to host the tournament’s 64 matches, but reports say that concerns about rising costs and delays are also prompting organizers to scale back their plans.
In a statement to Doha News, the Supreme Committee noted that FIFA requires a minimum of eight stadia to host the World Cup and that local officials will submit a proposal on the number of venues to be used in the 2022 World Cup to FIFA by the end of the year.
A final decision is expected by March 2015.
In addition to the four confirmed stadia – all of which the Supreme Committee says are in various early or pre-construction stages – organizers initially proposed building new facilities at Al Shamal, Doha Port, Education City, Lusail, Qatar University, Sports City and Umm Slal. The Al Gharafa stadium was also slated to be upgraded.
It’s not clear which of those plans would be shelved if FIFA approves a paring down of the number of stadia. However, the Supreme Committee recently confirmed that plans for a Qatar Foundation Stadium at Education City is currently in the detailed design development phase and that a tendering process to select a main contractor is underway.
Five stadia are expected to be under construction or renovation by the end of 2014, according to the Supreme Committee.
Khalifa International Stadium
The job of refurbishing the nearly three-decade-old facility was given to a joint venture comprised of local contracting firm Midmac and a subsidiary of Belgium–headquartered Besix Group, Six Construct.
Besix knows Khalifa stadium well – it was part of the team involved in the US$90.12 million job renovating the facility for the 2006 Asian Games, according to its website.
Midmac’s well-known local projects, meanwhile, include constructing the 51-story Tornado Tower office building in Al Dafna.
The Supreme Committee declined to say how much the contract to refurbish the stadium for the World Cup is worth. However, as a hint of the scope of the project, Eversendai – a Malaysian subcontractor working on Khalifa stadium – said its share of the job was worth the equivalent of QR130.54 million (US$35.85 million).
Constructed in 1976 and upgraded in 2005, Khalifa stadium is slated to receive a new roof as well as cooling technology.
The Supreme Committee demonstrated some its strategies to keep spectators cool during a showing of this summer’s World Cup matches at Katara.
While organizers say they are prepared to employ such strategies to allow the tournament to be held during summer, where the temperature in Qatar can exceed 50C (122F), many are calling for the World Cup to be moved to the cooler winter months for the safety of players and spectators.
Other work to the stadium, according to Eversendai, includes re-engineering and dismantling lighting arches as well as the engineering, supply, fabrication and construction of various steel structures.
The Supreme Committee said the stadium can currently accommodate 34,000 spectators when oriented for FIFA football and would be expanded, but did not provide a specific figure.
Previous reports suggested the facility would be able to seat 68,000 people.