For sports lovers, spending a day surrounded by energized fans watching the games and athletes we love is never a bad experience.

I had the good fortune of such an experience last week when I traveled to Lansdowne Park in Ottawa to enjoy a Women’s World Cup match on a beautiful 75 degree day. Having been part of the CannonDesign team that worked both to create Lansdowne Park and help Canada prepare for the Women’s World Cup across the country, the day proved truly rewarding.

Lansdowne Park Field

Hosting a major international sporting event is always an exciting challenge for a nation. Looking back, there were key challenges and steps we took along the way that have truly helped the 2015 Canada WWC become a successful reality.

Creating Soccer Space in Venues Not Designed for Soccer.

One of the key challenges associated with hosting a world cup event is that you’ll need to transform venues originally not designed to host soccer matches or international competitions of this scale. Having worked previously on the FIFA Men’s World Cup in 1994 and the Summer Olympic Games in 1996, I was able to bring strong experience to this challenge with our work in Canada. Our team identified all the challenges of working with existing football stadiums – they often have insufficient field dimensions; they lack appropriate TV and Media facilities; hospitality and spectators facilities need to be upgraded – and developed ways to strategically address them. These are just some examples of how signature events like a WWC change the ways venues operate.

View from across River
Fortunately, there wasn’t much challenges in Ottawa as we’d designed Lansdowne Park from the outset to meet FIFA requirements. The revamped Lansdowne Park proved a strong selection by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) as it is both a new venue and fully integrates itself into an emerging mixed use urban development. It also doesn’t hurt that the stadiums is located in the province’s capital city.

Unique Plans for Every Venue

Events like World Cups and Olympics require multiple venues across an entire country.  The CSA was clear that it wanted to have a key venue in each of the provinces. Once the locations were selected, the CSA asked CannonDesign’s Sports team to plan and layout all of the six venues from Vancouver to Montreal and Moncton. This effort included programming and space planning of the FIFA program and the creation of a technical playbook on how a typical venue would work for a World Cup. One of the key challenges of this work was diagramming out the different routes everyone would take at the venue as there could be no blocked or conflicted pathways. We successfully partnered with FIFA on planning for this specific piece. The results of this effort led to many successful renovations to make the facilities stronger for the WWC and also as legacy venues.

Enjoying the Matches

Looking back, it was a great deal of work to help Canada and Lansdowne Park prepare for the Women’t World Cup, but it’s always rewarding. Knowing that Lansdowne Park will host not only opening round matches but also knockout rounds featuring the USA, China and other leading teams is awesome. I hope everyone who attends the matches enjoys their day as much as I enjoyed mine last week. It was pure delight to walk around, soak in the atmosphere, take in the crowds and feel the excitement. That’s why we do the work we do – to create invigorating experiences for fans, athletes and entire countries.