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Infrastructure Beijing Fends Against Olympie White Elephants

By Judith Scott,2014-02-18 10:38
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Infrastructure Beijing Fends Against Olympie White Elephants

    Infrastructure Beijing Fends Against

    Olympie White Elephants

    BeijingFendsAgainst

    OlympicWhiteElephants

    The2oo8Gameswillleavebehindavaststadiumandvenuenetwork,buthowpreparedisthe

    citytodealthesefacilitiesoncetheOlympicshasrolledon?

    byDAVIDHENDRICKS0N

    P

    makinguseofitsexpansive

    infrastructureremainsupon

    theI6.dayevent'sconclusion.

    Amonumentaltaskinevery

    allOlympiccitiesstrugglewith

    tosomeextentoranother,but

    hostssuchasBarcelonaand

    Sydneyarelaudedfortheir

    44ChinaInternationalBusinessINovember2006 :004host,Athens,continues

    todealwit}1astrikingnumber

    ofvacant,decayingfacilities

    justtwoyearson.

    WithoverI8obillion

    yuan(US$22.5billion)invested

    inconstructionandinffastruc.

    turefortheBeijingGames,

    the"post.Olympicheadache"

    isarealitythecity'sorganizing

    committee,BOCOG,iswell awareofandisbynomeans

    takinglightly.Drawingupon theexperiencesofprevious hosts,thegrouphasfromthe startdevotedsignificantaRen. tiontopost-Gameslegacyplan- ningandcontinuestodwellon thefateofBeijing'sOlympic stadiums,eventvenuesand relatedfacilitieswithgrowing voracityas2008approaches. AL_TERNATIVESCENAR10S

    "TheOlympicshaslong

    carriedareputationofproduc. ingwhiteelephants,''says DavidChurches,anexperton biddingandplanningformajor internationalsportingevents andaseniororganizingtigure forthe2000SydneyOlympics. "TheInternationalOlympic Committee,theownerofthe event,isverykeentoseethatit doesnotcontinue."Forahost city,Churchesadds.thetaskis aboutmorethanmereimpres- sions,butparamounttoits post-Olympiclegacy.

    Anopportunitytoreap

enormouseconomicand

    socialbenefitsyearsandeven decadesaftertheGames,fail. uretoplanaccordinglycould leavealongandnastyhang. over,makingpost-Olympic preparationarguablymore criticalthanthatfortheevent itself.0Deneedonlyturnto theexperiencesofrecenthost citiesforconfirmation. Identifyingpracticaluses foritsOlympicstructuresearly onandturningtheUS$Io

    billionprojectnetworkinto aleverforlong-termgrowth andinvestment,Barcelona,for one,hasbenefitedenormously inthedecadeandahalffo1. 1owingtheevent.Postingnew economicgro~hrecordsevery yearsinceI993,thecitytoday seesmorethan580,oopeople utilizeformerGamesfacili. tiesannually,whetherforlocal functionsandcompetitions orlarge.scaleinternational eventssuchasthe2ootworld swimmingchampionshipsand 2004worldsocialforum.

Assuccessfulashost

    citieslikeBarcelonaor,more recently,Sydney,havebeen withtheirpost.GamesstadiUlTI andvenueinitiatives.theexpe. rienceofAthenshasthusfar takenquiteadifierentturn. Withnocomprehensiveplan foritsOlympicfacilitiesinthe

    event'swake,manyvenues. suchasthe42.5hectareAghios CosmasSaingCenterand

    35,000sqmindoorstadium. remainempty,surroundedby fencesandwelcomingmore criticismthanprospectivemves

    torsorusers.Addingmore thanUS$I29millionayearin maintenancefeestoitsexisting US$2o.4billionOlympicbill, Athens'planningdebacleisnot onlyacostlyembarrassment, butalsoa1essontofuturehosts suchasBeijing.

    C0VERINGTHEBASES

    'fAlotofgoodattention

    hasbeenpaidtotheintellectu

    a1sideoftheplanningprocess inBeiiing,"saysChurches,

    whotodaydirectstheSydney. BeijingOlympicSecretariat fSBOS1,anAustraliangovern

    ment.backedinitiativeoffer. ingBOCOGadvice,expertise, andassistancefromSydney's Olympicplanningveterans. Forone,betweenUS$700and US$8oomillionislikelytobe investedintemporaryoverlay, predictsSB0Sseniorman

    agerEricWinton,minimizing venuealterationandmainte. nancecosts,andeasingthe city'spost-Olympicburden. Permanentstructures

    suchastheNationalStadium or"Bird'sNest"havebeen designedandconstructedwith longtermuseasacentralpri

    ority.TheBird'sNestwillsee itsseatingcapacityreduced from9I,oooto8o,ooofo1. 1owingtheGames,andcon. tinuetofieldlarge.scalesports andnon.sportsevents.Other newlyerectedvenues1ikethe NationalAquaticCenter,or" WaterCube."andaio,000sq mindoorstadiuminWukesong

    willlikewisestarenational andinternationaleventsand competitions,whileoffering recreationaloutletsforlocal residents.Fromafunctional standpoint,suchprojectsare generallyconsideredtobeon therighttrack.Yet,forBeijing's Post.Olympicstadiumand venuetransitiontoproceedSUC

    cessfully,ChurchesandWinton contendthattheprocesswill ultimatelycomedowntoman. agementissues?

    "Itisonethingto

    buildthefacilities,butquite anothertomanagethemwell,'' Churchesreveals.Achallenge thatal1citieswrestlewith, itismagnifiedsignificantly inthecaseofBeijing,given China's1imitedexperiencewith commercially.backedsports venuemanagementThefacili. tiesconstructedfortheI99O AsianGamesinBeijingsuchas WorkersStadiumandWorkers Gymnasium,bothunderwritten bythegovernment,underscore theproblem,Churchesargues.

    "Whileofquiteahighstandard, thestructureshavereceived1it. tlemaintenanceovertheyears andnowrequireconsiderable upgradingforuseduringthe OlympicGames.''

    BOCOG'sattempttoba1.

    ancepublicstadiumandvenue fundingwithprivateinvolve. mentBeijingNorthStar,for example,thecity'sHongKong

    listedpropertyalTn,announced inSeptemberthatitwil1sel1 I.billionsharestofinancethe OlympicMediaVillageand otherGames.relatedfacilities

    givecauseforoptimism,mak- ingthepostOlympicdevelop

    mentprocessmorecommer. ciallydrivenandincreasingly itsprospectsofsuccess.Yet,as Wintonnotes,themanagement questiongoesbeyondphysically maintainingfacilitiesalone. "Sportsvenuemanage.

    mentisactuallyquiteanart,'' hesays,involvingimagebuild- ing,marketingandcontracting incomeandrevenuefromticket

    sales,sponsorship,foodand beverage,namingrights,and otherendorsements."Ittakesa reallyexperiencedprofessional grouptomanagealloftheseele- mentsinacohesivesortofway togetthebestvalueoutofeach ofthem.whileatthesametime marketingavenue'sofferingsto achievepeakbusinessflow."?

    ch1naInternat1onaIBusinesslNovember200645

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