Complementing Dubai Sports City is the Hamdan Sports Complex, another world-class and spectacularly flexible sports venue completed in 2010 at a cost of over $300 million.
The Hamdan Sports Complex has hosted a range of international aquatic events, including the 25-metre FINA World Swimming Championships and the 2012 Asian Swimming Championships. The complex houses an Olympic-standard, 50-metre pool in a stadium section with 15,000 seats. Adjacent is a second, variable-depth pool which is in constant use by local clubs teaching youngsters how to swim and developing the talents of those who show promise.
But the key to the success of the Hamdan Sport Complex is the moveable floor in the arena which allows it to be converted from aquatic to dry sport use. It is there that the UAE Royals will play home games in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) which launches this month, featuring some of the biggest stars of men’s and women’s tennis (see pages 50-55).
A key person at the Hamdan Sports Complex is Kyriakos Giannopoulos, the former water polo player who represented Greece at four consecutive summer Olympic Games from 1980 to 1992. As venue manager, like many other senior sports executives in Dubai,
Giannopoulos is at the delivery end of a sports-focused strategy that starts at the very top and is designed to project Dubai’s self-image to the world.
“Everything to do with sport in Dubai starts with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed and our role at the Hamdan Sport Complex is to be part of the project both in terms of hosting international events and servicing the community,” he told SportBusiness International.
“When we launched, we had one or two clubs using the facility. Now we have more than 2,000 active members.
“We work with local sports federations and the Dubai Sports Council to ensure that the venue fits the bill when they decide to bid for major events; I am delighted that we are now on the map as one of not only the biggest, but best facilities in the world. However, we know that staying in first place is harder than getting there.”
Giannopoulos is evidently proud of the Hamdan Sports Complex and what has been achieved there. He says he is looking forward to the challenge of the IPTL finishing and setting up the venue to host badminton’s Superseries Finals in only 48 hours.
For him and his team, he says, it is not simply about doing the job, because “we want to over-deliver”.