Kansas City, Mo. A Missouri-based sports architecture firm will build one of its newest structures in an unlikely spot — Iraq.
Kansas City, Mo.-based 360 Architecture has won a contract to design a $500-million, 65,000-seat soccer stadium in Iraq’s second largest city, Basra. City officials there are hoping to land the Gulf Cup of Nations — a premier soccer tournament held in Arab nations every two years.
The city would like the stadium to be ready by 2013.
Firm principal George Heinlein says he’s proud to share the company’s 25 years of architecture experience with Iraq. He also says he’s not nervous about the obvious safety issues surrounding a project in that country.
The entire development will be surrounded by a protective wall, with rings of security checkpoints inside.
While Basra hasn’t experienced the same level of violence as other Iraqi cities, it has seen its share of trouble. Troops this week seized a rocket launcher in Basra armed with Iranian-made missiles aimed at an American military base. Three U.S. soldiers were killed last month in a rocket attack.
Other area firms have suggested pursuing a project in an Iraqi city is too risky.
“That’s one area of the world we wanted to be more cautious,” said Gina Leo Stingley, a spokeswoman at Populous, formerly known as HOK Sport Venue Event, in Kansas City.
But Heinlein said he was more concerned with a stadium that could be cleaned after a sandstorm while offering shade and ventilation on hot days. “I wasn’t nervous about safety,” he said.
The facility, which would include a 10,000-seat practice stadium, dormitories and training facilities on a 360-acre campus, is the first major construction project to be funded entirely by the Iraqi nation.
“The city and the people of Basra are really excited about having this project built in their city,” Heinlein said.