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London 2012: What are the Olympic stadiums used for now?

BySteve Stones

Feb 23, 2020 #North East

Olympic host cities have long struggled with putting stadiums to use after the games have come and gone. After the London Olympic games, many wondered whether the Olympic stadiums would continue to see regular use. Here with building services engineering consultancy experts, Patrick Parsons, we investigate what these iconic venues are used for now.

1.      The Velodrome

The Velodrome, a 6,000-seater cycling stadium, was considered one of the best venues of its kind back when it opened in 2012. Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton were among the gold medalists at the £94 million centre. After the success of the Olympics, the velodrome was opened to the public. Lee Valley VeloPark as it is otherwise known, offers visitors the opportunity to participate in BMX, track and mountain bike racing. While the track is open to the public throughout most of the year, it does also still host high profile events such as the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.

2.      London Stadium

The London Stadium was one of the most famous venues involved in the 2012 games. Now playing home to West Ham Football Club, the 80,000-seater, which has since been reduced to 66,000 since The Hammers took it over, hosted the maximum capacity crowd who witnessed Mo Farah claim his second Olympic gold while Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt acquired his career sixth. As the curtains were drawn on perhaps the greatest event that the nation will ever experience, renditions of Waterloo Sunset, What Makes You Beautiful, and West End Girls, bellowed out in a very-fitting closing ceremony that celebrated Britain’s majestic history. West Ham won the bid for the ground and so they brought Premier League football across town in August 2016. Alongside hosting football, the Rugby World Cup 2015 came to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as did league team Saracens, and this year it will host the Muller Anniversary Games.

3.      Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre

During the 2012 Olympics, the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre was used as the only purpose-built Paralympic stadium. Playing host to the 2012 wheelchair tennis event, the venue, last year, went on to host a bigger crowd than it did during the games. The Women’s Hockey World Cup was hosted in London for the very first time in 2018, and it was the biggest hockey event the United Kingdom has ever witnessed. Despite hosting world championships, just like its counterparts, the Hockey & Tennis Centre hasn’t neglected the community either — opening up to the public and encouraging local but particularly younger children to get involved in sport.

4.      The Aquatic Centre

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds will be one with fond memories of the facility at Queen Elizabeth park — she landed two gold medals here after heroic performances. Initial construction costs for the aquatic centre were estimated to be around £75 million, however the final bill came in at more than three times this, provoking backlash. During the games, extra stands were built on to the building to allow for an audience of 17,500 viewers, yet after the athletes departed, and the decision was made to turn the vibrant baths into a community pool, the additional seating was removed. For a non-member to swim in the same lanes that the most decorated Olympian in history did, it will cost you only £5.30 — bargain.

5.      Basketball Arena

Unfortunately, the usable life of everything from the Olympic games doesn’t quite out-live the three-week event. The home to basketball at the 2012 London Olympics isn’t something to get uptight about however. A temporary arena was always the plan, and so the structure was covered in 20,000 squared metre of recyclable PVC fabric. Despite being able to house 12,000 fans during the event, when everything finished, the structure was simply taken down like a tent, the metal packed away, and the plastic recycled — as if the games didn’t give us enough inspiring stories.

Throughout history we have seen numerous occasions in which major sporting events have came to town, millions of pounds have been ploughed into constructing super-seater stadiums, and then once everything is over, the regeneration program turns to wreck and ruin. Certainly, there exist circumstances in which London hasn’t maintained its manufacturing works, but the project as a whole is definitely something, we can all be proud of.

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