Saudi Arabia reveals high-tech 2034 World Cup stadium design atop cliff

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Saudi Arabia revealed designs Monday for a high-tech stadium atop a 656-foot-high cliff near Riyadh where it plans to stage games at the 2034 World Cup.

The design has a retractable roof and field, plus an LED wall with hundreds of meters (yards) of screens to create an immersive experience for fans, the Qiddiya Investment Company said in a statement.

“The futuristic venue aims to reinvent the traditional stadium concept,” the QIC said.

The stadium is a centerpiece of the Qiddiya City project that aims to create an entertainment, gaming and sports hub 45 kilometers (30 miles) from downtown Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

The LED wall is designed to open out on to views of the city below, the QIC said.

The QIC is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by the crown prince who is widely known as MBS. It manages about $700 billion in Saudi sovereign wealth and includes investments in the LIV Golf project and English Premier League club Newcastle.

The QIC said the new stadium is intended to become the home venue of Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal, the Riyadh clubs that signed Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, respectively, last year.

Saudi Arabia is the only bidder to host the men’s World Cup in 2034, with FIFA set to confirm its pick late this year in a confirmation vote by more than 200 national soccer federations.

FIFA bid documents state 14 stadiums are needed for the 48-team tournament. The futuristic new city Neom is also likely to be in the World Cup project.

The giant construction projects in Saudi Arabia have raised concerns about their environmental impact, and the Qiddiya stadium is planned to have a lake built beneath it.

“The lake will use rainwater capture from the stadium and the surrounding area to pre-cool the air conditioning system,” the QIC said.

The 45,000-seat venue will be named Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium for the crown prince of the oil-rich kingdom that wants to become the major player in world sports over the next decade.

Saudi officials, who are also preparing to host the 2027 Asian Cup, have said they its wants to host all 104 games at the 2034 World Cup on its territory. However, several neighboring and nearby states could be called on to join the project.

Three countries — the United States, Canada and Mexico — will co-host the first 48-team edition in 2026.

Six countries scattered across three continents have teamed up for the 2030 tournament, which is FIFA’s only candidate. Spain and Portugal included Morocco this year in their long-standing bid, then Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay were surprise additions in October. The South American neighbors will get just one game each.

The architect attached to the new Saudi stadium project is Populous, a global firm with main offices in Kansas City and London. It has worked on Olympic stadiums in Australia and Russia and designed the acclaimed home of Premier League club Tottenham, which was also purpose-built for NFL games.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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