What happens to Olympic venues after the Olympics?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Aug. 26 2008 4:23 PM

What's Next for the Bird's Nest?

The afterlife of Olympic stadiums.

"Bird's Nest" Stadium. Click image to expand.
Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium

For the 29th Olympiad, which ended on Sunday, the Chinese built or renovated 31 venues in and around Beijing. Construction of the six main sporting facilities—including the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube—cost more than $2 billion. For the 2004 Olympics in Athens, which was conducted on a somewhat smaller scale, the Greeks built 22 venues. What happens to all the fancy stadiums after the closing ceremonies?

They're downsized into workaday sporting arenas, reborn as hotels and shopping malls, or fall into disrepair. The Bird's Nest stadium will become home to Beijing's Guoan Football Club and double as an entertainment complex for concerts. State-run investment group CITIC will reduce seating from 91,000 to 80,000 and redevelop the surrounding area to include hotels, malls, and restaurants. It's estimated that the reconstruction will cost 300 million yuan (almost $44 million) and that the annual operating cost of the stadium complex will be about 70 million yuan (about $10.2 million). Seating will also be reduced at the Water Cube, which will become a training and recreation center for swimmers and divers. Plans are underway to add tennis courts, retail outlets, restaurants, and night clubs.


As for some of the less talked-about venues: The fencing hall will be converted into a conference center; the National Indoor Stadium will become a multi-use facility, hosting arts and entertainment events as well as athletic competitions; and athlete accommodations in the Olympic Village are being sold as private residences.

Especially when compared with Beijing's detailed plans, Athens hasn't handled the post-Olympics well. The badminton stadium built for the 2004 Games is now a theater, and a government ministry has moved into the media center. But the two main arenas at the Faliro Bay Complex are vacant, there are squatters' camps in the adjoining fields, and the open-air swimming pool goes unused. Sydney, site of the 2000 Games, has fared a bit better. The National Rugby League holds its grand finale at the main stadium, and other entertainment events take place there as well. Redevelopment of the Olympic Park as a mixed-use residential and commercial site, however, has been slow going. Plans weren't finalized until 2005, and construction isn't finished yet.

After hosting the Games in 1996, Atlanta turned its main stadium over to the Atlanta Braves. Georgia Tech manages the aquatic center and houses students in the Olympic Village. The city uses the Centennial Olympic Park for its annual Independence Day fireworks display and for outdoor concerts.

Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Winter Games, can lay claim to the most bizarre post-use plan. After the Games, the athletes' village became Ray Brook, a correctional facility. (Prison-camp inmates had constructed the ski trails for the alpine events.)

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Tony Bijkerk of the International Society of Olympic Historians. Thanks also to reader Sean Carlson for asking the question.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.