For Olympic host cities, wins and losses last forever
On a field of dirt, about a hundred octagonal white tents are lined up in neat rows. They’re weather-beaten and coated with dust, but the logo of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees still peeks through on their fabric rooftops, revealing their purpose. Like many refugee camps set up in recent years, this one is a mix of desperation and inactivity. Unlike most others, it’s surrounded by stadium seating.
The Olympics can be awesome for cities. Or they can be devastating. Rarely they're both, and most often they are an economic drain caused by over-investment in facilities with limited long-term usability. So when London announced plans for a 2012 Summer Olympics stadium that would reduce from 80,000 seats during the games to a more realistically usable 25,000 seats after, Olympics experts, city officials and taxpayers rejoiced. But recent news has turned that rejoice to disgust.
London Olympics officials are now flipping a sharp U-turn, calling to revise plans for the stadium to keep the 80,000 seats permanently. Margaret Ford, the new head of the Olympic legacy team, is confident the stadium will be able to pull in crowds all year, and is leading the charge to make permanent what has for years been designed as temporary.
In fact, the stadium is already under construction. This late-stage program change is bound to throw a wrench into the renderings of designer Populous (formerly HOK Sport).