Community stadia: a sustainable phenomenon?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Influenced by urban entrepreneurial economic development policy, new professional sports stadia have been widely advanced as flagship developments that can generate jobs and wealth, support place branding and culture-led strategies, and host mega-events that collectively boost the economic competitiveness of their towns and cities. Public funding for stadia developments has been secured on these bases but also increasingly challenged as stadia costs are under-estimated and the benefits, particularly for lower income communities, exaggerated. Responding to these criticisms and with greater policy attention on establishing sustainable communities, the social and community benefits of new stadia developments have increasingly been promoted to secure and justify public investment. In the UK, community stadia have emerged in this context.

Community stadia are an intriguing phenomenon as, in theory, they enable professional sports stadia to deliver on community aims alongside their core sporting and commercial demands and the economic development aims stemming from their flagship development status. Public funding has followed with a number of community stadia built or planned; this despite the limited critical analysis of the stadium type and its impact. It is this gap in the literature that this research addresses, doing so through a critical realist, case study methodology of two community stadia: The Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster and The Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk. Specifically the research draws on the community-related literature and interviews with diverse stadia stakeholders to define community stadia by conceptualising the factors that characterise or influence community stadia, understand what communities they engage with and benefit, and critique whether they are a sustainable phenomenon that can genuinely deliver on sporting, commercial, community and economic development aims.

The research finds that community stadia have the potential to deliver across these four aims, with stadia’s association with the world of professional sport facilitating engagement with multiple, diverse and ‘hard to reach’ communities. However, they are also complex phenomena that require imaginative but effective design, planning, governance and operational management. Indeed, civic leaders and stadia officials need to be attuned to the concepts of inclusive design, co-production, and space and place; as well as having a diverse skill set spanning community engagement and partnership working to entrepreneurial and marketing skills.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Glasgow
Award date29 Oct 2019
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019


  • stadia
  • stadium
  • economic development
  • urban regeneration


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