Without a doubt currently best stadium in southern Turkey. No wonder it hosted the 2013 Mediterranean Games. Simple and tailored accurately, this seems to be a model for Turkey’s rapidly improving top two leagues.
How many modern stadiums does southern Turkey have? In fact, how many modern stadiums were recently opened outside Istanbul? Not many yet, but the number is growing every year. The model is similar in most cases and the Mediterranean port of Mersin may well be used as an example.
The outdated athletic Tevfik Sırrı Gür Stadium lies in direct centre of the city. Literally, along the Ismet Inonu avenue (yes, the same Inonu whose name decorates Besiktas’s stadium). The governmental building agency TOKI sells the stadium for private investment, earning a lot with pretty much the only that well located and that big plot in the centre of the city.
In return a new stadium is built in a new, usually remote location. This was the case in Mersin, where the new Mersin Arena (name established while under construction) was built north-west of the city, close to the Adana-Erdemli highway. On one hand it’s a great location for future traffic, on the other it was cheap to acquire with fields and orchards previously occupying the land. With the road connection to the highway and parkings the stadium consumed roughly €100 million.
Construction was announced in 2011 and began in early 2012. This gave authorities limited amount of time for delivery, because in late spring 2013 the stadium was to hold the Mediterranean Games. In the end the deadline was met, though no football field was laid with opening and closing ceremonies planned at the stadium.
The pitch was only needed now, as the stadium became the new home for İdman Yurdu. The club was recently relegated to the second division, but boasts a very significant fanbase throughout the region and thus the 25,000 capacity seems well suited in the long term.
Although Turkey doesn’t have a developed custom of arriving to games by car (most old stadia lacked parking facilities and were accessible on foot or with public transport), the potential to fill the stadium overall is there.
Commercialising it may prove to be more challenging. The stadium has a lot more premium seating included than most sports venues. Almost one out of five seats are upper class, while 52 skyboxes can take 914 people. This is more than some arenas that have twice the capacity.
Both the roof and external wrap consist of membrane sheets. Simple, neutral and quite dynamic with varying angles, the outer shape of Mersin Arena is interesting, but not unique. Also the problems are common with other stadiums worldwide. With significant winds and sandy landscape the stadium’s wrap was quickly covered in dust, resulting in the actual colour being closer to brown than the expected white. Of course this can be dealt with using only pressurized water, because the membrane is teflon-coated.
Simple and well suited for local demand – this is how it seems, though long-term use will verify it. Now you can verify its appearance by voting for Stadium of the Year 2013!