MBA Students Study Sports in Dubai
Dubai’s recent push to spend $4 billion building Dubai Sports City, a vast international sports destination in the gulf coast city-state, so intrigued USC Marshall School of Business professor David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, that he took four MBA students over spring break to research a case study about the mixed-use mega complex.
The study will become part of a publication about the convergence of sports and entertainment titled The Convergence of Sports, Entertainment & Business: Joining Forces to Build Brands and Generate Billions. Created by the USC Marshall Sports Business Institute, in partnership with Stanford University Press, the study is the first of its kind, paying special attention to how industry stakeholders monetize this convergence and how these industries continue to merge and discover best practices for continued growth and evolution.
Dubai Sports City is considered the premier global example of the convergence of sports, business and real estate, and will be featured as a case study in the research on sports-anchored real estate development.
“What they are attempting to execute is unmatched,” Carter said of Dubai Sports City, which is set on 50 million square feet within the Dubailand development. “Until you’ve been there and seen the cranes that crowd the skyline, you can’t understand that scope and appreciate what their goals are. It’s a fascinating dynamic.”
Dubai Sports City unveiled its 25,000-seat cricket stadium on April 22 with a one-day international cricket match between the Pakistani and Australian teams, with seats filled in part by Dubai’s huge Pakistani immigrant population. The Pakistani team temporarily will call the state-of-the-art facility home, due to security reasons in their own country.
The Dubai Sports City also has completed an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ernie Els. Despite the recent global financial crisis, Dubai Sports City sold 80 percent of the planned villas that will flank the golf course.
Some projects have been put on hold due to the credit crunch. But that hasn’t weakened Dubai’s goal of making tourism – rather than oil – a key component to its economy. According to Carter’s case study, six million people stayed in Dubai hotels annually by 2008, nearly triple the number from a decade earlier.
In between facility tours and meetings, Carter and his team – Antranig Balian, Courtney Brunious, Phillip Wallace and Shane Wilson – sat down with executives from companies such as Ernst & Young, which have offices in Dubai, to hear their perspectives on working in the largest city in the United Arab Emirates.
According to Carter, one of the major challenges Dubai Sports City faces is that “they’re trying to build a major sports city without alcohol and gambling, which fuel a big part of sports” in the United States and around the world.
When it’s completed, can the city compete with Las Vegas? “What they’re trying to do is so large that they’re not competing with Vegas,” Carter explained, noting that 60,000 residents ultimately will live in Dubai Sports City with multiple shopping malls to serve them. “Although in many ways it’s similar to Vegas, as it’s a fully-contained city with all the amenities. But this will be an international sports facility that this part of the world needs.”