An Inside Look at Qatar's World Cup Stadiums
You know what's important to have lots of when you host a World Cup? Stadiums.
Big stadiums. Expensive stadiums. State-of-the-art stadiums.
Lots of stadiums.
For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the construction of new stadiums has been the focal point of criticism from the world soccer community and human rights activists, citing a 2019 report by London's The Guardian newspaper that stated approximately 6,500 migrant workers died during the building of stadiums in Qatar for what would be the first World Cup held exclusively in the Arab world. Those numbers have since been disputed by Qatari officials, who say the deaths weren't directly related to construction.
Controversy aside, the stadium construction costs alone clock in at an estimated $4 billion. Here's an inside look at the seven new stadiums and one renovated stadium being used in the 2022 World Cup, in order of the estimated cost of the stadiums.
Before We Begin: Why Can't Fans Drink Beer at World Cup Stadiums?
Qatar is a Muslim country where the sale and use of alcohol is strictly regulated, which presented a problem as it prepared to host arguably the most booze-soaked sporting event in the entire world.
In September, Qatar and FIFA officials announced that the compromise for beer sales in and around the World Cup stadiums would be relegated to the three hours leading up to matches and in the one hour following the completion of the match.
But just 24 hours before the start of the first World Cup match on Nov. 20, Qatar officials reversed that decision and said only Bud Zero — a non-alcoholic version of Budweiser — would be available in and around the stadiums.
Anheuser-Busch, which is paying $75 million for its World Cup sponsorship, came up with a quick solution to the problem of having a massive amount of beer on its hands — announcing via its official Budweiser Twitter account that the extra suds would be shipped to the winning country.
Al Bayt Stadium
Location: Al Khor City, Qatar
Estimated price: $847 million
World Cup slogan: "Enjoy the warmest of Arab welcomes"
Bottom line: While Al Bayt Stadium has the highest price tag of any of the seven new stadiums built for the 2022 World Cup, it isn't the biggest — Lusail Stadium's capacity is approximately 20,000 more than Al Bayt. What made Al Bayt so spendy is the retractable roof.
The tent-like structure of Al Bayt Stadium is a nod to the traditional tents used by people in the region of Qatar. Of note, the stadium hosted the opening match of the 2022 World Cup between Ecuador and Qatar.
It will host nine matches throughout the World Cup, including Round of 16, quarterfinal and semifinal matches. Following the completion of the World Cup, Qatar's plan for Al Bayt Stadium is to reduce the seating capacity to 32,000 and use the vacated space to create a five-star hotel, while putting the extra seats in storage for the 2030 Asian Games.
Location: Lusail, Qatar
Estimated price: $767 million
World Cup slogan: "Alive with heritage, an icon for the future"
Bottom line: The gem of Qatar's eight World Cup stadiums is Lusail Stadium, which will host the 2022 World Cup final on Dec. 18, 2022, along with a semifinal match, quarterfinal match, Round of 16 match and six matches in group play.
Lusail Stadium got its test run for the 2022 World Cup just shortly before official play started when it hosted the Saudi-Egyptian Super Cup in September 2022 — specifically set up as a rehearsal run for the World Cup finals and featuring a match between Saudi Arabian champion Al Hilal and Egyptian champion Zamalek.
The plan for Lusail Stadium following the completion of World Cup play is to reduce the seating by half, to 40,000. The extra area will be repurposed into a multi-use venue with shops, restaurants, schools and a health clinic.
Education City Stadium
Location: Education City, Al Rayyan, Qatar
Estimated price: $700 million
World Cup slogan: "Shimmering jewel of inspiration"
Bottom line: Located on a sprawling college campus in Qatar, the opening of Education City Stadium was delayed for one year but eventually became ready for use in 2020, when it was one of the venues used for the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup.
Education City Stadium will play host to eight matches during the 2022 World Cup, including six matches in group play, a Round of 16 match and a quarterfinal match. Following the completion of World Cup play, the stadium's seating will be reduced to 25,000, and it will be put to use for university sporting events.
Al Janoub Stadium
Location: Al Wakrah, Qatar
Estimated price: $572 million
World Cup slogan: "See football sail into a new era"
Bottom line: It appears Al Janoub Stadium has taken its design inspiration from the spaceship in the 1986 cult sci-fi classic "Flight of the Navigator" — like almost down to some of the most specific details. Which is awesome.
Officially, the design was inspired by the sails of traditional Dhow boats used by pearl divers in the Persian Gulf, but you can't help but see the futuristic leanings of the late designer Zaha Hadid, who became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004.
Al Janoub Stadium will be the home of Al-Wakrah SC of the Qatar Stars League once the 2022 World Cup is over and is expected to have its seating reduced from approximately 40,000 to around 20,000, but not before it plays host to seven World Cup matches.
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium
Location: Umm Al Afaei, Al Rayyan, Qatar
Estimated price: $360 million
World Cup slogan: "Where desert stories unfold"
Bottom line: This is actually the second version of the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium — the first version was torn down in 2015, and the current version is more commonly known as the Al Rayyan Stadium because it was built in the same location as the former stadium … in Al Rayyan.
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium's construction reportedly used 90 percent of what was demolished when the original stadium was taken down. It opened on Qatar's National Day — the celebration of the country's unification in 1878 — and had already been a host for the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup and 2021 FIFA Arab Cup ahead of hosting seven matches in the 2022 World Cup.
Al Thumama Stadium
Location: Al Thumama, Qatar
Estimated price: $342 million
World Cup slogan: "A venue steeped in culture and tradition"
Bottom line: Al Thumama Stadium's design takes inspiration from the traditional taqiyah skull cap worn in the Middle East — most evident in the patterns formed on the outer ring of the stadium.
One of the final stadiums for the 2022 World Cup to be completed, Al Thumama Stadium made its debut in October 2021, hosting the Emir Cup Final before it hosted six matches during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021. Al Thumama Stadium will host eight matches during the 2022 World Cup, including a Round of 16 and quarterfinal match. Following the completion of play, it will see its capacity reduced by half and the old seats donated to other countries.
Khalifa International Stadium
Location: Doha, Qatar
Estimated price: $315 million
World Cup slogan: "A sporting legend re-energized"
Bottom line: Of the eight stadiums in use during World Cup play, Khalifa International Stadium is the only pre-existing stadium Qatar brought to the competition, thanks to an estimated $300 million upgrade.
Khalifa International Stadium first opened in 1976 and doubled in size to a 40,000 capacity after a renovation in 2005 ahead of the 2006 Asian Games — its almost central use has been for big-time soccer and track and field events.
Khalifa International Stadium is scheduled to host eight matches during the 2022 World Cup, including six matches in group play and a Round of 16 match.
Location: Ras Abu Aboud, Watar
Estimated price: Unknown
World Cup slogan: "Innovation at the heart of it all"
Bottom line: Stadium 974 is a venue completely unique to the 2022 World Cup. Constructed entirely from 974 recycled shipping containers, it is the first temporary venue in World Cup history.
Stadium 974 got a test run during the 2021 Arab Cup, when it hosted six matches, and is scheduled to host seven matches during the 2022 World Cup, including a Round of 16 game. Following World Cup play, Stadium 974 is scheduled to be dismantled and shipped to Uruguay, where it could possibly be used if the country's bid for the 2030 World Cup is a success.
More Soccer Stories You Might Like