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A look at what has happened to Olympic venues after the Games (+photos)

By Sylvia Hui

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Feb. 24 2014 8:52 p.m. MST

The Water Cube — where U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps made history by winning eight gold medals — has been transformed into a water park popular among local families. Its operators even peddle purified glacier water under the Water Cube brand for additional income.

But other venues have withered in neglect. A rowing park in the city's suburbs that cost $55 million has fallen into disuse, and visitors to this paid facility are few and far between. The cycling race tracks in another outlying district are covered in weeds, and the sand volleyball courts have been largely closed off to the public.

ATHENS, 2004

The legacy of Athens' Olympics has stirred vigorous debate, and Greek authorities have been widely criticized for not having a post-Games plan for the infrastructure. While some of the venues built specifically for the games have been converted for other uses, many are underused or abandoned, and very few provide the state with any revenue.

Some critics even say that the multibillion dollar cost of the games played a modest role in the nation's 2008 economic meltdown.

The main Olympic stadium — built decades before the 2004 games but revamped for the 2004 Olympics — is still used for major soccer matches, and most of the surrounding facilities and stadiums are also used for sporting events and concerts. One of the most successful conversions of Olympic facilities is the old badminton venue, now a theater.

The athletes' village was turned into housing for workers, but the communal areas were neglected, with frogs and debris taking over the old training pool in the village.

SYDNEY, 2000

Before the 2000 summer Olympics, the site west of Sydney where the 1580-acre Sydney Olympic Park was built was a grungy, desolate wasteland of slaughterhouses, garbage dumps and factories.

Since the games, it has slowly developed into its own suburb with hotels, offices, restaurants and parklands. The park now hosts thousands of events each year, from music festivals to sports to business conferences, drawing more than 12 million annual visitors.

It's also the home of the wildly popular Sydney Royal Easter Show, an agricultural fair that attracts more than 800,000 people each year.

The Athletes' Village was converted into a suburb called Newington, featuring eco-friendly residential apartments, with solar power and a recycled water supply. Most of the sporting facilities still get quite a bit of use: the aquatics center hosts swimming competitions, and is also open to the public for recreational activities, with a water slide, spa and fitness center. The 690 million Australian dollar main stadium still hosts major sporting events, including cricket and rugby, despite its capacity being scaled down from 110,000 to 83,000

NAGANO, 1998

In Nagano, five large structures were built for the 1998 Winter Games. They remain in use, though many complain that the venues are too big and costly to maintain for a town of less than 400,000 people.

The Olympic Stadium has been converted into a baseball stadium. Nagano doesn't have a professional team, though other teams play there on occasion.

The Aqua Wing Arena has been converted into an aquatics center, and the Big Hat is still used for ice hockey, as well as figure skating. The M-Wave hosted the World Sprint speed-skating championships last month, and the White Ring is used for professional basketball, volleyball and other events.

Nagano wasn't free from controversy, though. The bidding process for the games was clouded by bribery allegations.

ATLANTA, 1996

In Atlanta, the main stadium for the 1996 summer Olympics is headed for demolition.

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