Iraq’s Sporting Future – Basra Sports City
Basra (also known as Basrah) is the second largest city in Iraq with a population that has grown considerably in the past decade to over two million people. It is located in the south-east region of the country and is Iraq’s main port, making it vitally important to the country’s economy.
In July 2009 constructed began on a new sporting complex in Basra aimed at providing Iraq with world class venues for both the general public and athletes. This will allow the country to not only host international events but to also develop internationally competitive teams. Funded by the national government through the Ministry of Youth and Sport and with an estimated budget of five-hundred million U.S. dollars, ‘Basra Sports City’ will be home to two stadiums (including a large sixty-five thousand people capacity main stadium), four five-star hotels and other sporting facilities such as a velodrome and tennis arena.
The main stadium is surrounded by a man-made lake which has been created in the shape of Iraq. The unique design of the stadium’s façade incorporates traditional Arab aesthetics and has been influenced by the region’s architectural history. It has been designed with a running track around the pitch to allow for track and field events. The stadium will be home to the Iraqi national association football team and adheres to both F.I.F.A. and Olympic standards.
Scheduled for completion by late-2012, its construction is currently running slightly late and will run into the first quarter of 2013. Construction of the site is being undertaken by Abdullah Al-Jaburi, a large Iraqi contractor, with designs originally developed by American firm 360 Architecture. When opened it will be one of the largest sports complexes in the Middle East.