Can Legends tap Pakistan’s untapped sports potential?

This new stadium in Karachi has unveiled the long ignored potential of commercial sports facilities in Pakistan

If you are a resident of Karachi, who has been to DHA’s Khadda Market before summer 2023 and haven’t visited again, you’re in for a surprise. And if you did go back to Khadda Market after August 2023, you were most likely taken aback by how the place has drastically transformed from a dead end to a lively neighbourhood. 

All thanks to the Legends Arena. 

This new stadium in Karachi is perhaps the largest commercial sports facility in the country and the ripples of its impact have been far-reaching. If its popularity is anything to go by, the new stadium did not only unlock the potential of commercial sporting facilities in the city, but also unintentionally and quite unexpectedly had a positive impact on the surrounding market. 

The Legends Arena offered to the people of Karachi something they did not realise they even needed– a membership-free club that offers an array of sports, along with a welcoming environment, giving recreation a new meaning to the city’s inhabitants. 

Allow Profit to take you on a virtual tour of the Legends Arena through this article.

What is the Legends Arena and what makes it so legendary? 

In conversation with Profit, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Legends Arena Talal Shah Khan shared that the primary goal behind introducing Legends Arena was to develop sports infrastructure in Pakistan that accommodates a large number of people, addressing a significant gap in available facilities. He believes that Legends Arena is actively transforming and modernising recreational sports activities and facilities throughout Pakistan.

In agreement with Khan, Yousuf Ghaznavi, CMO of Legends said, “The potential of building commercial stadiums, like Legends, in Pakistan is huge!”

Currently, there is a huge void in the market when it comes to commercial sports facilities. Even though there are quite a few facilities, especially in Punjab, there is still a lack of infrastructure that would satisfy international standards. Moreover, existing facilities in the country lack proper management systems for professional coaching or mentorship.

However, the Legends Arena owes its popularity to one niche sport– Padel Tennis. 

Even though there were a few residential padel courts installed in Pakistan, there were no commercial courts that could be accessed by everyone and by bringing padel to the country, Legends set itself up for unexpected success. “We have established the first commercial padel courts in the country at the Legends Arena in Karachi, marking a noteworthy milestone. Our expansion plans include reaching various localities, locations, and cities, which demonstrates our commitment to making recreational sports accessible across diverse regions,” said Khan. 

Adding this Khan’s point, Ghaznavi highlighted, “Our expansion plans are in place and headway has been made to take Legends Arena pan Pakistan. Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Hyderabad and Peshawar are some cities where we are in talks for expansion.”

Let’s start from the beginning. 

The parent company of Legends Arena, TS Builders, is a company that specialises in sports construction dating back to 1983, having successfully completed over a thousand projects throughout Pakistan.

Ghaznavi told Profit, “In terms of specialisation, the company not only constructs but also operates the facilities. To streamline these efforts, a distinct entity named Total Sports was established, focusing on sports facility construction and management. It’s noteworthy to mention that Total Sports emerged from the legacy of TS Builders, underlining the extensive experience in construction.”

In the Total Sports framework, Talal Shah Khan, the CEO of TS Builders, is also the CEO Total Sports. Meanwhile, Jahangir Khan, the renowned squash legend, is not only one of the directors, but also serves as the chairman of Total Sports. This strategic collaboration and integration of roles have facilitated the seamless execution of various projects, according to Ghaznavi.

According to the founders, the city requires about 15 or 16 similar facilities to meet the needs of the large population. 

Khan proudly shared, “We take pride in being the benchmark facility, prompting others to consider creating spaces of standard quality, even in limited areas, to enhance people’s enjoyment of sports.”

“The stadium was also made with the idea of having a padel court. Initially the idea was to have about four padel courts but since we were coming to the market for the first time, we started with two and based on the reaction, we have now installed five padel courts,” Khan highlighted. 

TS Builders always knew how to make top-notch sports places on a global level. The only thing holding them back was finding the right land. “We’ve been thinking about making something big, meeting international standards, for the past five years. Finally, we decided to go for it,” chimed Ghaznavi, adding that, “We chose a piece of land that had been barren for over 20 years – it used to be an abandoned hockey stadium, mostly unused, only occasionally for carnivals or weddings.”

Even though the defining feature of the Legends Arena has now become padel tennis, considering that it houses the best courts in the city, the initial idea, however, wasn’t just about padel sports. They wanted to create a place with facilities for various sports. Currently, Legends Arena has four football fields, one multi-functional field where you can play volleyball, cricket, hockey, and tennis. They also have two indoor cricket arenas, enclosed on all sides to keep the ball in play. And obviously the five padel courts that are the USP of the stadium. 

“We also added a 330 metre jogging track and within it, a 100 metre sprint track with five lanes. This setup allows us to host school sports days and other events. The facility itself has seating for about 1200 people, making it perfect for hosting events because it’s so spacious,” Khan said, adding that sometimes people even book the entire stadium to host wedding events, such as a game night between the bride and the groom’s families. 

Because of such high demand, the stadium is not only functional around the clock, but also offers different price options, depending on the timings and the days. Unlike exclusive clubs and membership-based institutions, Legends caters to diverse schedules, including early morning activities.

A state of the art facility

The Legends Arena is structured into three phases. The current phase, phase one, is the complete outdoor facility. The second phase will introduce an upcoming gym building housing a full fledged gym, multipurpose fitness studios, crossfit and a sports rehabilitation centre, while the third phase will feature a substantial indoor children’s play area. This space will encompass a large jungle gym with an inflatable zone, a trampoline area, and a Ninja Warrior park, covering about 20,000 square feet. It’s set to become one of the largest indoor sports facilities in Pakistan, according to Khan. 

In terms of financials, the investment required for phase one was around Rs 150 million, or slightly more due to currency devaluation. Similar amounts will be invested in both phase two and phase three, reflecting a significant overall investment of over Rs 450 million to build the entire facility. “Despite the substantial costs, our city has a strong appetite for entertainment. Traditionally, food has been the primary form of entertainment here. Many venture into the restaurant business, which can be risky as initial success may decline without a consistent customer base,” Khan explained. 

Ghaznavi, adding on to Khan’s point, said, “And we’re not looking to exit quickly, right? So, it’s a long-term play. We don’t want to launch a business, get the money out and go. Hence, we’ve invested a lot and it’s on the higher side for a reason.” 

Prioritising quality in their facility by investing in durable turfs that meet international standards, Total Sports has been a game changer for Pakistan’s recreational sports scene. “Whether it’s for padel, cricket, futsal, or the multi-purpose turf accommodating various sports, all our turfs are accredited and approved by the respective sports governing bodies. Despite the higher cost associated with certified and internationally recognized turfs, we were committed to delivering top-notch facilities without cutting corners. Notably, none of the smaller facilities in the city boast these accredited turfs,” Khan explained. And this is, perhaps, why the Legends Arena has become so popular among its regular visitors. Some individuals who frequent the arena have drawn parallels with facilities they had only visited abroad. 

“Our futsal turfs hold FIFA approval, the basketball and multi-purpose turfs are endorsed by various federations, and our cricket turf mirrors the one used by the English cricket board in their indoor facility. Even the multi-purpose turf is approved by the tennis federation. While these investments may seem significant, they align with our mission for long-term sustainability, emphasising a focus on enduring quality rather than immediate returns on investment,” Khan concluded. 

This explains why, currently, the stadium is operating on a net size, but considering the substantial investment made, it will take some time to break even. However, they insist the potential is significant. “We’ve become a trendsetter in the market, being emulated by others, which is always a positive thing,” Ghaznavi exclaimed.

Weekdays, peak hours, and off-peak hours, each have varying costs. “The facility is well-lit even at night, incurring additional electrical expenses. To address this, the venue has been equipped with solar panels, aligning with a focus on renewable energy and reducing operational costs,” Ghaznavi pointed out.  

Lastly, Legends has given special attention in building something that most facilities have way below on their priority list; bathrooms and changing rooms! “Special attention has been given to the changing facilities and showers, ensuring a state-of-the-art and high-quality experience for users,” Ghaznavi highlighted. 

The stadium has drawn nothing but a positive response from the people of Karachi. A response which has been possible due to the meticulous attention to detail characterising every nook and cranny of Legends Arena. 

Forging productive partnerships 

The Legends Arena has not only introduced the highly addictive sport of padel to Pakistanis, but also done valuable work for the sports community, providing people with the opportunity to be better at the sport they enjoy. 

They have collaborated with some schools to utilise the facility, addressing the challenge many educational institutes face in lacking sufficient space for proper games. This partnership enables schools to access quality sports facilities for their students. 

Ghaznavi shared, “We are in discussions with educational institutes, we plan to offer sports scholarships, a novel approach in Pakistan. Unlike traditional scholarships, we not only assess talent but also provide training facilities. The unique aspect is offering not just scholarships based on talent but also dedicated training spaces. Seeking partnerships with corporate entities with CSR budgets, we aim to expand our initiative, contributing to the development of underprivileged and privileged youth excelling in sports.” 

Legend’s Youth Development Program, a CSR initiative, supports talented underprivileged and privileged individuals in sports, guiding them from grooming to skill development. Led by experts like Adil Rizki for football, Shahid Afridi for cricket, and mentorship from Jahangir Khan, the program provides comprehensive training, according to Khan. 

“Our academy collaborations further enhance our sports offerings. Shahid Afridi is heading our cricket operations, launching his academy in partnership with Legends Arena for the first time. The cricket academy provides a platform for aspiring cricketers,” Khan said. 

Adding, “For football, we have partnered with Karachi City Football Club (KCFC), led by Adeel Rizki, who not only heads the academy but also serves as the head coach of the women’s national team. In alignment with our commitment to promoting sports and empowerment, we extend our facility to the women’s team, offering it free of charge for their camps and training. KCFC’s women’s team also benefits from training here at no cost.”

Nameer Shamsi Tennis Academy also collaborates with Legends for tennis operations and coaching, including padel coaching. While in squash, they have a collaboration with ASB Squash, a company associated with Legend’s parent company. It has led to the creation of around 800 squash courts across Pakistan. “The chairman of our company is the renowned Mr. Jahangir Khan, a true legend in sports. Holding the remarkable record of being undefeated for 555 consecutive matches over 10 years, he earned the title of the true legend. With his association, our brand derives its name, JK 555, commemorating his unparalleled achievement,” Khan concluded. 

By getting experts from all over the sports industry and forging productive partnerships, Legends Arena aims to provide the best sports facilities and training to its clients. 

Interestingly, Total Sports is also exploring the option of franchising. “We have established a franchise model, similar to multinational chains like McDonald’s or KFC, and other local brands, expanding across different locations. Under this model, we encourage investors to join our pool, contribute funds, and allow us to oversee services, manage facilities, and construct the necessary infrastructure.”

This approach is how Total Sports intends to expand their footprint across Pakistan, providing accessible sporting facilities to a broader audience.

A social scene 

Along with other things, the social impact created from the rehabilitation of Khadda Market and Legends Arena’s presence cannot be missed. 

Ghaznavi highlighted how, “Our football, tennis, and cricket academy programs not only engage kids but also provide parents with a social platform. While their kids participate in the academy, parents enjoy playing padel, football, or cricket with their friends.”

Profit was also told that the feedback from women has been a positive one, with a diverse range of attire, from athleisure wear to full burkas, all seen within the boundaries of the stadium. Ghaznavi believes that this is due to the comfort and security that the space offers. “The facility has received appreciation for providing a comfortable environment for women to participate in various sports. “

 

A frequent visitor at Legends said, “This is the best thing to happen to DHA. Before Legends, there was no entertainment or social equaliser. It is amazing how they have transformed this space, which previously used to be like an idle dumpyard.”  

Interestingly, the Legends Arena did not only transform the barren hockey field, but as a consequence, ended up rehabilitating the entire neighbourhood. The nearby commercial area of Khadda market now has a smooth one-way road, redirecting traffic and the impact on the overall location has been quite obviously positive. If you read through the reviews of the stadium on Google, you will see people boasting about not only the facilities that Legends provides, but also commending the rehabilitation of Khadda market. 

One review read, “My favourite place to walk! So glad someone finally introduced padel in Pakistan. A much needed space for everyone!” which reflects the multipurpose nature of the stadium, introducing not only a recreational space but also improving the lifestyle of those living nearby. 

“Residents in the apartments around here really appreciate the facilities, raving about the pleasure of waking up to a view of the grounds. Instead of complaints about any potential noise,  people value and enjoy what the facility provides,” Ghaznavi stated. 

Adding to the convenience, their gym will operate 24 hours, these timings assisted by the commercial zone location of the stadium, ensuring flexibility for sports enthusiasts. 

“Sports is a lifestyle, and health-conscious individuals visit daily,” Khan said, continuing to say, “Our upcoming gym building, inspired by co-sharing workspaces. The gym, on the ground floor, and fitness studios on the first floor act as co-sharing spaces. Trainers can use these studios for classes, offering opportunities for those struggling to secure a place or raise capital. The gym overlooks our outdoor area, providing a scenic view, and is fully air-conditioned with an efficient ventilation system, ensuring a pleasant environment.”

The stadium has also created jobs in the area, currently employing over 60 people, a number expected to rise as the stadium expands. 

There is something about the vision the owners had for the Legends Arena, even back when it was just an intangible idea, that made squash legend Jahangir Khan put his time and money into this venture. Ghaznavi shared, “JK has been associated with TS Builders for some time– we shared the same vision, which was to introduce state of the art sports facilities and make them available to everyone.”

After the success of this one stadium, we would not be surprised if investors around the country start pouring their money into building more commercial sporting facilities in Pakistan. Because let’s be honest, as much as you would hear boomers complain about Pakistanis being lazy, Legends Arena has proven otherwise. People have an appetite for healthy recreational activities other than hangouts at chai dhabas. It is not that we as a people hate productive activities, but perhaps it is just that we do not have many options, so we find ourselves wasting away at Chai Master or the rocks at Sea View. However, if more facilities like the Legends Arena were to crop up all around Karachi, you may not find so many of us mindlessly sipping our hot chocolates and cribbing about the disgusting marshmallow floating around in our cups at Chai Master. 

Nisma Riaz
Nisma Riaz
Nisma Riaz is a business journalist at Profit. She covers tech, retail and marketing and can be reached at [email protected] or https://twitter.com/nisma_riaz

3 COMMENTS

  1. I URGENTLY NEED AN EFFECTIVE POWERFUL STRONG LOVE SPELL CASTER HELP ME BRING BACK MY EX LOVER URGENTLY 2023  
    Email: [email protected]
    Whatsapp: +234 703 166 3661
    This is a very joyful day of my life because of the help Dr Gbogbo has rendered to me by helping me get my ex-husband back with his magic and love spell. I was married for 6 years and it was so terrible because my husband was really cheating on me because I had Fibroids and i couldn’t conceive for my husband because of my Fibroids and my husband was seeking a divorce but when I came across Dr Gbogbo email on the internet on how he helped so many people to get their ex back and help to fix relationships and make people happy in their relationship.  Dr Gbogbo has also restored so many people’s health which includes Herpes, Fibroids, PCOS, Diabetes and many more. I explained my situation to him and then sought his help but to my greatest surprise, he told me that he will help me with my case and then give me a herbal medicine that will help me shrink my Fibroids naturally without undergoing surgery which he really did by giving me the herbal medicine that shrinked my Fibroids naturally without me going for surgery. Here I am now celebrating because my Husband has changed totally for good and I am currently pregnant for him. He always wants to be by me and can not do anything without my presence. I am really enjoying my marriage, what a great celebration. I will keep on testifying on the internet because Dr Gbogbo is truly a real spell caster. Do you really need help? then contact Dr Gbogbo now via Email: [email protected]
    Whatsapp: +234 703 166 3661 He is the only answer to your problem and makes you feel happy in your relationship…

  2. I URGENTLY NEED AN EFFECTIVE POWERFUL STRONG LOVE SPELL CASTER HELP ME BRING BACK MY EX LOVER URGENTLY 2023  
    Email: [email protected]
    Whatsapp: +234 703 166 3661
    This is a very joyful day of my life because of the help Dr Gbogbo has rendered to me by helping me get my ex-husband back with his magic and love spell. I was married for 6 years and it was so terrible because my husband was really cheating on me because I had Fibroids and i couldn’t conceive for my husband because of my Fibroids and my husband was seeking a divorce but when I came across Dr Gbogbo email on the internet on how he helped so many people to get their ex back and help to fix relationships and make people happy in their relationship.  Dr Gbogbo has also restored so many people’s health which includes Herpes, Fibroids, PCOS, Diabetes and many more. I explained my situation to him and then sought his help but to my greatest surprise, he told me that he will help me with my case and then give me a herbal medicine that will help me shrink my Fibroids naturally without undergoing surgery which he really did by giving me the herbal medicine that shrinked my Fibroids naturally without me going for surgery. Here I am now celebrating because my Husband has changed totally for good and I am currently pregnant for him. He always wants to be by me and can not do anything without my presence. I am really enjoying my marriage, what a great celebration. I will keep on testifying on the internet because Dr Gbogbo is truly a real spell caster. Do you really need help? then contact Dr Gbogbo now via Email: [email protected]
    Whatsapp: +234 703 166 3661 He is the only answer to your problem and makes you feel happy in your relationship

  3. REAL LOVE SPELL CASTER PRIEST WISDOM THAT HELP ME SAVE MY RELATIONSHIP.TEXT OR ADD HIM UP ON WHATSAPP: +2348124644470

    My name is CLARA JAMES .I want to give thanks to PRIEST WISDOM for bringing back my ex husband.No one could have ever done me believe that the letter I’m about to write would actually one day be written. I was the world’s biggest skeptic. I never believed in magic spells or anything like this, but I was told by a reliable source (a very close co-worker) that Trust is a very dedicated, gifted, and talented person,It was one of the best things I have ever done. My love life was in shame; I had been through two divorces and was on the brink of a third. I just couldn’t face another divorce, and I wanted to try harder to make our relationship work, but my husband didn’t seem to care. and he broke up with me again. I was confused and did not know what to do again, rather they got in contact with PRIEST WISDOM.He did a love spell that made my husband come back to me. We are now very much happy with ourselves. PRIEST WISDOM makes him realize how much we love and need each other. This man is for REAL and for good. He can also help you to fix your broken relationship. I had my husband back! It was like a miracle! He suddenly wanted to go to marriage counseling, and we’re doing very, very well, in our love life. contact email Supernaturalspell0 @ gmail. com or text or add him up on whatsApp at: +2348124644470 …

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Posts