A year ago, one of the greatest experts in European football stadiums, Paul Fletcher, published a research about the impact of these buildings to the urban environment. He analysed the cities that had been home to the UEFA Champions League in the last decade, suggesting many interesting insights. The two main reflections were that there is a possible correlation between a team’s success and their infrastructure development, and that the influence of stadiums over their environment can boost the development of smart cities. Based on the data collected, Fletcher suggests that by 2060 clubhouses will no longer be buildings; they will become residential, medical, leisure, business and a cultural ecosystem. To achieve this, they will include hotel accommodation; universities or training centres with a residence for their students; their own medical centres which will pioneer in sports medicine; flexible facilities for concerts and massive events; pitches for sports practice open to the public; and lovely venues for conferences, business events and e-Sports exhibitions. Ambitious, but not impossible: several sports cities already include facilities like these, but only their teams are allowed to use them. The usefulness of these infrastructures on non-match days is a global trend as well and it is increasingly growing. Moreover, projects that are already being developed coincide in establishing these stadiums as leisure venues for entertainment as well as business centres that are not just limited to sport events.
All the big teams in the world are addressing the stadiums’ modernisation, following the trend identified by Fletcher, who associates sports success with state-of-the-art facilities. However, not everybody can do it in the same way. It depends on whether they are located in urban or metropolitan areas. The urban stadium was built decades ago in the suburbs, and the growth of the city has surrounded it with a dense and crowded district. The metropolitan stadium is located on the outskirts, in areas where the city keeps growing, and it is well connected. They both have the ability to influence their environment, but in very different ways. The characteristics of these undergoing projects, and those that will soon be started, show us the way to address this change towards the future in both cases.