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World Record Sports Facilities

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Greatest capacity stadium -- Rungrado May First Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea; 150,000 capacity (seating and standing room combined). Built in 1989, the stadium scalloped roof with 16 arches is said to resemble a magnolia blossom. It is situated on Rungra Island in the Taedong River. Although used for sporting events such as soccer, the stadium is best known for hosting the Arirang Festivals, elaborate mass gymnastic and artistic performances celebrating North Koreas leader. Held almost every year since 2002, and lasting about two months, they involve up to 100,000 participants. Up to 30,000 highly-trained students seated in the stands create huge mosaic pictures by holding up colored cards. And tens of thousands of gymnasts and dancers perform highly choreographed group routines on the field. The largest crowd ever to attend an event at the stadium was an audience of 190,000 for a professional wrestling event on April 29, 1995.
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Sports facilities range from Olympic and World Cup venues, professional team stadiums, to high school and college facilities. Professional sports team owners often push the envelope in their quest to build excitement for and attendance at their events. Some major residential and resort developers also build record-breaking recreational facilities as drawing cards.

The sports construction market sector has suffered along with the overall market downturn in recent years. According to McGraw- Hill Construction Research & Analytics, the value of construction starts of sports facilities in the U.S. has declined from $4.8 billion in 2006 to $2 billion in 2011.

Some firms have already seen business begin to rebound. Scott Radecic is a senior principal at Populous, which he says is "the largest design firm that focuses solely on sports facility design and sports architecture." From his vantage point, he says, "I don't know if we'll ever see a time like 2005 and 2006," but after the recession, "we saw activity pick up in 2011 and 2012, but the sports marketplace is down 40% from it's peak four or five years ago."

Populous has worked for 130 colleges, 30 of the 32 National Football League teams, done master planning for the London Olympic Committee, and has designed the Olympic Stadium for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Radecic sees various global trends affecting the sports market. "The financial crisis in Europe is putting a damper on Europe and the UK, but things in Russia, Asia and Australia are very active."

Recreational facilities are another branch of the sports market, and waterparks are a sizeable new market niche. "Since 2000 there has been a big increase in indoor and outdoor waterparks," says David Sangree, president of Hotel & Leisure advisors, a consulting firm to hotels, resorts, casinos and waterparks. "Many municipal facilities have added waterpark components to their pools over the past decade because they are able to charge higher prices."

Commercial waterparks are a growing trend. "There are currently 132 indoor waterpark resorts of over 10,000 sq ft in the U.S.," according to Sangree. "Years ago there were very few resorts with outdoor waterparks. Now there are 52 with at least three features. It allows them to be more popular with guests, and attract new segments of guests. There are some very large facilities, such as Aquatica, in Orlando, Florida, and also San Antonio, Texas, owned by SeaWorld.


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