Populous joins AliSports in a bid to revolutionise sports in China



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Populous and AliSports in China

AliSports, the sports wing of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has inked a strategic partnership with Populous architectural design firm in a bid to revolutionise sports in China.

The partnership comes amid AliSports recently announced plans to invest invest 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) to turn China’s traditional sports venues into Internet-enabled smart stadiums, as reported earlier by Coliseum.

“Alisports is at the forefront of the development and use of highly-advanced technology. This [partnership] is of great interest to us at Populous as we work to meet the ever-growing demand for greater connectivity and high-tech solutions, at the stadia and elite training venues we design worldwide,” the global architecture firm said in a statement.

“What Populous brings to the partnership is a preparedness to share contacts, and our learnings around sports strategy, marketing and events. Of most value to Alisports, of course, is our commitment to sharing the knowledge we’ve gained, in China and globally, relating to the design, management, construction and operation of major sports and entertainment venues,” the statement added.

The agreement to partner in this way, and to pursue projects together, has come at a time of change in the Chinese market. Whilst general architecture work may have slowed, the demand for specialised sports venue design, catering for professional-level organisations and events, continues to increase.

Populous has worked in China since 2000, leading the design of a number of large-scale sports developments, including Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre (2005) and Zhuhai’s International Tennis Centre, unveiled last year.

“Our agreement with Alisports references the fact that large-scale sports venues are largely non-existent or long idle, in some Chinese regions. This provides a huge imaginative space for both the design of new professional-level sports venues, and the revitalisation of those that do exist,” the Populous statement said.

“Much of that development will unquestionably revolve around one sport – football. What began in China some 2,000 years ago, as ‘kickball’, with a hair-stuffed ball and a net, is today something of a nationwide obsession,” it added.

AliSports will participating in Coliseum Summit ASIA, 20/21 September, Beijing talking about future plans making venues more techie.

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