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Creative Spaces: Stadiums that Could Teach the Super Bowl a Few Tricks

Posted: 01/30/2012 11:03 am

Most people will be tuning into Super Bowl on February 5 to watch the game (or maybe to scrutinize the ads or enjoy the halftime show). I will be checking out the stadium.

Having lived in the Midwest, the East Coast, the north, and the south, I am always on the lookout for the cities that have the best cultural amenities and walkability. Admittedly, I am not a huge sports fan outside of tennis, but I do enjoy going to games when the stadiums are embedded in the urban fabric and there are lots of options for other things to do within walking distance.

When I was growing up, we used to go to Detroit Pistons games but we had to drive miles on the highway to get to the Palace of Auburn Hills, which was surrounded by a vast parking lot. When I moved to Washington D.C., I thought it was so much fun to see the Wizards play at the Verizon Center because Penn Quarter was so lively, filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. There weren't miles of parking spots to cross before finally getting somewhere -- in fact we didn't have to park at all. The metro stop was directly beneath the arena, allowing fans from all over the region to have quick and hassle-free access to the games and performances.

Location is not the only important consideration for a stadium -- design, art, and architecture matter too. How well does the building fit into its neighborhood? How do its design elements reflect the city? A stadium doesn't have to be a faceless behemoth.

In honour of Super Bowl XLVI, I've asked the urbanist Donald Carter, the director of the Remaking Cities Institute (RCI) at Carnegie Mellon University and my colleague Steven Pedigo, director of communications and research at the Creative Class Group, to help me select stadiums from around the world -- places that celebrate and highlight creativity and add real curb appeal to their neighbourhoods.

Olympic Stadium ("Spyros Louis") - Athens, Greece
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Located in the upscale suburb of Maroussi, the stadium complex was redesigned and expanded for the Summer Games in 2004. It may be having some problems now, but it's best known for its massive arches and the blue steel and glass roof that covers the stands. The whole complex is filled with monuments, gardens, and futuristic features.

Designed by Calatrava

Photo credit: Flickr user Vigggo
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