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Learning to Create a Great Sports Venue

by Nia Anyike  

Partho Dutta, a lecturer in the Columbia University M.S. in Construction Administration program, teaches one of the School’s more popular offerings. His Sports Stadia course covers the history and development of the world’s premier sports venues and also gives students the skills they'll need to thrive. In addition, Dutta’s class features guest experts ranging from an Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) senior executive to organizers of the Final Four college basketball tournament. Along with classroom work, students learn from tours of state-of-the-art venues such as the UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y. and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  

Dutta explained what makes Sports Stadia successful:  

What can students learn from your course?

To start, they learn about the very early stages of creating an arena from the initial idea to obtaining investors. We also show them how to acquire land and develop return on investment generating programs. They also learn about design, determining costs, bidding out projects and operations. In other words: everything involved in the development of world-class sports venues.  

Our guest speakers, meanwhile, provide real-world insight into areas that range from  investment banking, construction and environmental review to even the hosting of events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four. Students also develop their own projects—and show how their project will produce a good return on investment while at the same time make clients and fans happy.  

How have hybrid classes impacted the Sports Stadia course compared to in-person classes?

The hybrid class can be much better. It allows special guest lecturers, with time constraints, to meet with the class.  

What professional development opportunities does the Sports Stadia course offer students?

The course obviously focuses on sports stadia, but it is also a great course to generally understand large-scale real estate development, which includes construction and  operations. Students can use what they learn in the class in many other design and construction areas—not only sports. They learn, in other words, to solve complex problems. A few of my past students, for example,  are working on sports-anchored mixed-use development projects; a few are working in the sports and entertainment design industry. 

How were the Sports Stadia students’ final presentations this year?

Brilliant. Students presented on an NFL stadium on New York's waterfront, a sports facility in Cyprus, and a tennis-focused development on the river on the Upper West Side. The projects were very well thought out and detailed. They delved into land acquisition, ways to raise money, get approvals, and costing-out projects.  

I’m very proud of what they accomplished. 


Learn more about Columbia’s Construction Administration program.