The Middle East and North Africa region, and in particular the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have the opportunity to develop broader attractive and sustainable commercial offers at sport venues. Traditionally the regional sports venue operators (e.g. sports clubs and sport governing bodies) have focused their efforts solely on hosting normal sporting events sporting events. The region has recently started to explore other commercial opportunities not related to sporting events such as business and cultural events, restaurants facilities, rental of commercial spaces and other retail opportunities.

During the 5th Coliseum Summit MENA, Joaquin Martinez, senior manager, Consulting at Deloitte Middle East delivered a presentation on the “commercialization opportunities in GCC sports venues.” He looked at areas that are fundamental to the commercialization of this sector in the GCC including the regional market trends in sports venues, the success factors and challenges for sport venues commercialization, the available commercialization elements, and the ways to introduce these new commercial elements as part of a sports venue’s value proposition.

“The commercial uses available can be classified into four categories: retail, leisure and hospitality, sports and other commercial,” explained Joaquin Martinez. “A sports venue operator should build a commercial strategy upon a mixture of these commercial uses, often referred to as the “activity mix.” The composition of this strategy is based on factors such as location, competitor facilities available, visitors per year and local amenities. The synergy between the venue and the community (potential customers) is another key factor for the selection of the commercial uses.”

During the planning phase, a commercial and operational plan will define the potential activity mix of the sport venue, capture specific design requirements and assist the design team to integrate these into the venue design.

“Operators are facing significant challenges to exploit these new commercial opportunities. The common challenges include operational and logistical complexities, lack of suitably qualified and experienced professionals and incompatibility of traditional European approaches to supplemental revenue generation with local factors such as climatic conditions and cultural norms. Early selection and planning of the commercial uses and knowing your fans and your venue are key to address some of these challenges”, concluded Martinez.


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