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.

Advertisement

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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
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.