Updated on Thursday, Oct. 16 with more information about location of expansion
Officials at Qatar’s Aspire Zone have said they are readying plans to nearly double the size of the local sports hub by adding new venues, recreational areas and additional aquatic facilities.
The vision for the property, located west of central Doha next to Villaggio mall, also includes restaurants, residential areas and a new 68,000-square-meter shopping center, dubbed Aspire Park Mall.
Templar’s remarks appear to confirm previously reports of plans for an additional shopping center in Aspire.
Renderings posted on the websites of engineering firm Meinhardt and architect Promontorio appear to display a retail concourse constructed beneath a grassy slope. In addition to shops and restaurants, the project includes a kids entertainment area, education facilities and a botanical gardens, according to Meinhardt.
Speaking at a conference in Paris last week, Phillip Templar, the director of venues and events at Aspire Zone’s logistics division, said, as quoted by Doha Stadium Plus:
“There’s a growing demand within Qatar for more facilities for the sports and events industry … We see at least 1,000 events a year. With the addition of the new facilities, we expect the number to touch new highs.”
The cost of the expansion has not been disclosed.
Templar was not immediately available for comment today.
When it was founded in 2003, the 250-hectare property next to what is now Villaggio Mall was called Sports City. The name was changed to the Aspire Zone in 2006, the same year Qatar hosted the Asian Games.
Along with a large public park and Villaggio, the precinct already includes two hotels, the Aspire Academy training center, a sports medicine and orthopaedic hospital as well as several athletic venues including the Hamad Aquatic Center and Khalifa International Stadium.
In the run-up to the international football tournament, Qatar has been working to brand itself as a sporting hub by hosting major athletic events such as next year’s Handball World Championships and the FINA World Swimming Championships, which will take place in December at the Hamad Aquatic Center.
While many venues are geared towards professional athletes, Aspire Zone is also aimed at encouraging local residents to lead a more active lifestyle through, for example, a new bike rental service and cycling path as well as programming during Qatar National Sports Day.
The expansion is still at the high-level planning stage and is envisioned to take place over the next five years on the western portion of the Aspire Zone, next to Aspire printing press.
According to a separate story published by Inside World Football, Templar said the project would consist of flexible sports and event facilities “and could potentially include any number of developments ranging from multipurpose venues, indoor and outdoor recreational areas, areas for children, aquatic facilities, restaurants and residential areas.”
A new “Qatar Lab” is also being set up inside the Aspire Dome to train young football players ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
The expansion of the Aspire Zone is one of two major projects planned for the area. In a separate initiative, the Doha Zoo – located directly south of Aspire – is being completely redeveloped and is scheduled to reopen to visitors in late 2017.