Monumental growth: Recent stadium developments in Europe


As the football industry continues to grow, and clubs are compelled to expand, redesign or relocate their home stadiums, so does the quality of the venues hosting top-flight matches. In 2012, KPMG’s publication: A Blueprint for Successful Stadium Development reviewed the trends and cost of football infrastructure across Europe.

Since then, with clubs recognising the value in leveraging their facilities to create revenue streams and community assets, numerous stadiums have been constructed. Reassessing the sector since the last report, the KPMG Football Benchmark team has analysed the developments in the European football stadium landscape over the past five years (2013-2017).  

The 30 most prominent newly-built football stadia in the UEFA confederation were reviewed for this report. The list was led by Turkey with nine venues, followed by Russia (five) and France (three). Unsurprisingly, these three countries were either hosting – in the case of France with Euro 2016 and Russia with World Cup 2018 – or bidding to host (Turkey’s bid for Euro 2024) major tournaments.   

Out of the 30 analysed stadiums, the venue with the highest capacity is the Baku National Stadium in Azerbaijan, with 69,870 seats. The arena, which will host four matches during the 2020 European Championships and the final of the 2019 Europa League, is closely followed by Zenit St. Petersburg’s Krestovsky Arena (68,134).

Within the top five largest stadiums opened during this period, it is interesting to find two venues in LaLiga, namely the new home of Atlético de Madrid, Wanda Metropolitano (3rd, 67,703 seats), and Athletic Club Bilbao’s new San Mamés (5th, 53,289), highlighting the on-going renovation of LaLiga’s infrastructure. Olympique Lyonnais’ Groupama arena (4th, 59,286) also joins the top end of the table as the first major privately-owned stadium in French football.

The ranking, however, differs if new stadia are analysed from the perspective of development cost as the required capital expenditure varies significantly, not only depending on stadium size but also on factors such as location, quality and surrounding infrastructure.

While there is a general trend that larger stadiums have a higher development cost (e.g. higher costs of a wider roof, supporting structures for larger upper tiers, increased number of elevators, premium seating), the analysis of the balance between cost and capacity of the venues provides some interesting insights.

Focusing on development cost per seat, the top five is dominated by Russian venues, including Zenit Arena (1st:12,517 EUR/seat), Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium (2nd: 11,315 EUR/seat), CSKA Moscow’s VEB Arena (3rd: 9,364 EUR/seat) and Kazan Arena (5th: 8,521 EUR/seat). Outside the top five, some of the largest stadia hosting Euro 2020 play-off matches, such as Baku National Stadium (6th: 7,746 EUR/seat) or Olympique Lyonnais’ Groupama Arena (7th: 6,916 EUR/seat) are high in the ranking.

By contrast, the two major recent constructions in Spanish football, Wanda Metropolitano (4,579 EUR/seat) or San Mamés (3,960 EUR/seat), both had a  significantly lower cost per seat and most of the venues built in Turkey and Central-Eastern Europe were relatively inexpensive by comparison. Indeed, Timsah Arena in Bursa (43,877) and Torku Arena in Konya (41,981) were the 8th and 10th largest venues built in the period under analysis, but had an estimated development cost per seat of 2,051 EUR (24th) and 1,464 EUR (27th) respectively.

The analysis suggests the construction of stadium infrastructure is still largely driven by major international tournaments, but the development cost of these venues - designed to meet strict UEFA and FIFA requirements to host world-class events - continues to increase. At the same time, there is also a growing number of inexpensive and functional stadia, highlighting an increasing awareness of the various factors impacting the financial viability of sporting infrastructure projects.

However, despite the large number of venues inaugurated in recent years, the renovation or development of new stadium infrastructure remains a challenge for many European clubs and countries. The KPMG Football Benchmark team has extensive expertise in this field and can support the evaluation of the risk and return of capital investment projects, such as stadium and training complexes, and the integration of residential or commercial real estate into the concept.

In order to review the key phases and milestones in the planning, feasibility assessment, designing, construction and operation of a new stadium, please download our report A Blueprint for a successful stadium development