Dubai Sports City in talks over funding for Fifa-compliant football stadium site

Dubai Sports City is in talks with financiers about funding for the site of the proposed 60,000-seat football stadium.

The developer’s chief financial officer, Vijay Sajjanhar, said that, although its current focus is the development of a canal zone running through the centre of the site, the main outdoor stadium is “something that is on the radar”.

He said: “The company is actively looking at it at this point of time. We have to do it and we will do it.”

Although he could not give a time frame for when the stadium would be built, or when he expected a funding deal to be agreed, he said: “We are looking at actively closing down on the finance for this. And as the financial closure happens, we are going to go ahead.”

The 60,000-seat outdoor stadium has been designed to Fifa specifications and would be capable of hosting international fixtures, he added, but he declined to comment on whether or not it would be used by a local football team.

The stadium is one of three that was in the original master plan, alongside a 25,000-capacity indoor stadium/arena and a cricket stadium. These would be anchored by a 2 million-square-feet retail mall.

However, to date only the outdoor 25,000-capacity cricket stadium has been built.

Despite this, Mr Sajjanhar argued that activity at the master-planned community, which contains a total of 50 million sq ft of space, has progressed well since it was founded by three prominent local businessmen – chairman Abdul Rahim Al Zarooni, Abdulrahman Bukhatir and Abdulrahman Falaknaz – in 2004.

“When we started we had a lot of lizard farms and camel farms here. You could actually [see] Burj Al Arab,” Mr Sajjanhar said.

The western part of the site, containing 1,000 villas around an Ernie Els-designed golf course, is largely complete and fully occupied, although a further 100 villas could be added at a later date. A number of sports academies, including an international academy by cricket’s governing body, the ICC, are also operational.

The master plan includes 130 towers. The bulk of these have been allocated for residential use and will be built around the canal. About 30 per cent of the towers will be for mixed use. Many of these will be on plots overlooking Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road.

To date, about 68 plots have been sold to sub-developers and 22 of these have been delivered, although 15 more are in the later stages of construction. The development houses 15,000 residents, and is expected to rise to as many as 22,000 by the end of next year.

Dubai Sports City recently finished three of its towers, Canalside Residences West, and designs for a north hub anchoring one end of the canal are currently with Dubai Municipality for approval.

“We expect, subject to approval, to launch it by the end of the year. And when I say launch, I mean going out to tender.”

He said the canal could be in place by the end of next year.

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