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. Public funding for new stadia has been secured on these bases but also challenged as stadia costs are under-estimated and the benefits, particularly for lower income communities, exaggerated. Emerging in this context, community stadia are an intriguing phenomenon as they offer the potential for professional sports stadia to deliver on community aims alongside their sporting, commercial and economic development aims. Public funding has followed with a number of community stadia built or planned in the UK, yet with limited critical analysis of the stadium type and its impact. This paper helps to fill the literature gap by learning from two community stadia case studies: The Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster and The Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk. It finds that community stadia have the potential to deliver across the 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 leading the paper to construct a 12-feature conceptualisation of community stadia that can advance practitioner and academic understanding of the phenomenon.
- economic development
- urban regeneration