Amsterdam ArenA by Sander van Stiphout

By August 02, 2013

Sander van Stiphout is director at Amsterdam ArenA International, the entity in which Amsterdam ArenA concentrates her consultancy services and operations. Sander specializes in managerial advice for the conception, development, operation, and management of stadiums and arenas as well as advice on safety and security issues in relation to large venues. Sander is also an active member of ESSMA. We interviewed him regarding the nomination of Amsterdam ArenA as 'Stadium Operations Consultants' for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar.

What does the nomination by the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee mean to you?

We are very proud to receive this assignment. It's an ambitious job and my team and I are certainly looking forward to it! Qatar 2022 is a special World Cup that will take place in a relatively small area, in comparison to other WC's and also the climate is the same everywhere. In Brazil for example, fans will have to fly for hours between different matches of their team and the climate will be different in many cases.

What will be the role of Amsterdam ArenA?

Our role is twofold:

We as Stadium Operations Consultants will assist the Supreme Committee at the development of business cases for the competition venues of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™, including, stadiums, stadium precincts and training sites. Furthermore we will develop Programme Wide Strategies for stadium management related issues.

By involving us in this early stage and letting us develop these Strategies we believe we can optimally contribute to the organization of the World Cup.

For half of the stadiums we will make reviews of the designs at each individual design stage, the others will be done by IMG, who are also selected as Stadium Operations Consultant. We will be assessing operational aspects including, catering, stadium management before, during and after the tournament; safety and security; maintenance of the pitches and the stadiums; overlay functionality; integration of technology; sustainability, etc.

How do you prepare for the WC in Qatar in this early stage?

We are already very busy with several stadiums. The stadiums are not yet under construction because we are still in a very early phase, but business cases and designs are being prepared, as can be learned from different tenders that are out on the market and designs that were granted to architects..

What kind of team or profiles are part of Amsterdam ArenA? Where does AA get its expertise?

The Amsterdam ArenA consists of a team of about 15 consultants. They are all top specialists in their field of expertise. Myself, I am an engineer with a
sanderproject management and real estate development background. But we all have different backgrounds here at Amsterdam ArenA and that’s what makes us a complete and service-minded company. In our work we value the importance of fan & player experience.

A big part of our expertise resulted from the project in Amsterdam. Projects in Poland (Gdansk), Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk, Kiev) and Brazil(Porto Alegre, Salvador, Natal) enhanced our experience. In Brazil we gained more expertise on  how to prepare a stadium for a large tournament and working closely together with FIFA. We were responsible for the conceptual planning of the FIFA World Cup 2014 venues in Salvador and Natal.

How do you deal with cultural differences between projects?

Our team is very sensitive to what people think and the way they act in  different cultures. Each country has its characteristics. In Brazil for example a business meeting is more informal than in European countries. In the Middle East the local way of social networking needs to be integrated differently in the stadium environment than in Northwestern Europe.  To optimally integrate these spaces within a stadium means it is vital to have good contact with local people and that's something that we at Amsterdam ArenA have in our DNA.

Football is a sport that is known for being very close to the people and therefore the stadiums fulfil a significant role. We try to keep our ears open and listen: what's agreeable and what isn't. In other words: how do local people want to see their stadium in an ideal way.

How is ESSMA at this moment important for Amsterdam ArenA and how can ESSMA stay significant in the future?

ESSMA as a platform creates a huge value for peers: exchanging experiences with people that are already working for quite some time in the stadium business. ESSMA helps to discuss problems and incidents and to swap contacts. As for now, ESSMA is mainly a strong network for stadiums that already dwell in a further stage. So next to a platform, ESSMA could be even more active in supporting stadiums in early development phases, eg by providing relevant data.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our ESSMA members?

Well yes. We from Amsterdam ArenA were present at the Stadia & Arena Conference supported by ESSMA together with the Turkish Football Federation on the 21st of May. We noticed a lack of enthousiasm from the industry towards the organisors of the World Cup in Qatar. That surprised me a lot as the Q22 organisation is an ambitious and well organized commissioning entity with clear and very ambitious goals and the means to reach them. This is in my view excellent to leave a great legacy to the stadium industry, consisting of stadium development, design, sustainability, technical designs etc..

Conclusion: We are very honoured and pleased to be part of the Q22 team. We feel a shared commitment to make the World Cup in Qatar an amazing event with a great legacy to Qatar and the world. 


ESSMA offers a platform to stadium professionals where they can share, learn and discuss topics related to ESSMA’s areas of expertise: Stadium Development, Operations & Ticketing, Sustainability & SMART, Safety & Security, Fan Experience & Hospitality and Pitch Management.