Designing the Future of Sports Facilities

February 9th will be a red letter day for the Olympic Council of Ireland as it hosts its extraordinary General Meeting to elect a first new President in almost 30 years.

It will also be a key day for sport in Ireland in a wider context of expertise as it will be the opening day of a major international conference on sports facilities, ironically being headlined by Marie Sallois Dembreville the International Olympic Committee Director of Corporate Development, Brand and Sustainability who for the past two years has led the global consultation and stakeholder engagement to develop the IOCs ‘Framework for Sustainability and Legacy Planning’.

The International Swimming Pool & Leisure Centre Conference will draw experts from around the world and is coming to Ireland for the first time through the networking abilities of Gar Holohan (above right), Chair of the Aura Holohan Group and President of the Sports Committee of the International Union of Architects.

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The agenda will include presentations and open discussion on best practice in planning, design and operation of sports facilities with ‘Innovation’ as the central theme.

It is being hosted by The International Association for Sports & Leisure Facilities and will take place at The Helix, Dublin City University on Thursday the 9th and Friday 10th of February 2017.

Over 20 international experts will be delivering keynote thought leadership in sustainability, state of the art sports facility design, the economic and social return on investment in sport, inclusion, planning for the next generations and facility management.

In addition to Marie Sallois Dembreville these will include Professor Peter Taylor; Professor of Sport Economics and Co-Director of the Sport Industry Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University who is regarded as the leading expert on sports economics globally.

Taylor will be sharing insights from his most recent work – a study, which explores the Social Return on Investment (SROI) in Sport and the impact it has on improving health and educational attainment, reducing crime and enhancing participants’ life satisfaction.

The study found that for every £1 invested into sport in 2013/14, a Social Return on Investment of £1.91 was generated for the benefit of wider society.

Read More: Designing a National Sports Policy

“The swimming pool and leisure centre industry are facing important economic and ecological challenges,” said Dr. Stefan Kannewischer, President of The International Association for Sport and Leisure Facilities (IAKS).

“This conference will raise an international perspective on trends and innovations with top-level international speakers,”

“We are delighted that such a prestigious International Sports & Leisure Conference is being hosted in Ireland covering important topics relevant to the public consultation currently being undertaken by his department on a ‘National Sports Policy Framework’”, added Minister for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan TD

“We are delighted to be co-hosting this International Conference with the IAKS and Aura Holohan Group in Dublin,” said Esa Mohammed, President of the International Union of Architects (UIA).

“The UIA is dedicated to advancing and promoting sustainable, quality sports architecture worldwide; and, to this end, has a dedicated Sports & Leisure Program.”

Registration for the event is now open at


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