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Olympic Volleyball Venues


jiejie
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Capital Indoor Stadium will be used for 2/3 of the volleyball prelims, and everything from quarter-finals onward. It is an older facility that has been extensively renovated and seats 18,000, although it feels larger. I had been in this arena many times pre-renovation, and it has never been a favorite venue. It still isn’t—the arena itself just seems to suck the life out of whatever is being presented or competed. However, the renovations have definitely improved the place, especially in the public lobby and service areas—better finishes and signage, complete redo and expansion of toilet areas and installation of concession stands. I assume they also made similar sorely-needed improvements to the back-of-the-house/athlete/locker areas. Normal public access requires mounting exterior steps, so I presume that wheelchair access will take place at the side entrance (normally restricted to athletes, press, etc.) and then up one of the lifts to the main public level, where there is designated wheelchair seating in good locations.

This arena has always been a very cavernous and soulless facility in the best Stalinist tradition. Although the basic volume, layout and seating arrangement hasn’t changed, it has been “warmed up” a bit by temporarily covering the windows at the top of the arena, installing a spiffy ceiling, and completely revamping the VIP seating area. The former bus station lighting has been changed out to something more useful for the players on the court and less obnoxious for the spectators. This arena was designed on an old-fashioned, rectangular axis so the playing surface has a lot of “extra” space at the ends, beyond the limits of the volleyball court. The court itself is tiny compared to the surface area available. This means that a larger % of the seating is going to be more distant from the court boundaries, although there aren’t any truly obstructed seats. There are a large % of Category B in the seating mix, and these are probably the safest bet if you had to buy seats blindly without knowing section or row. Some of the Cat A seats are low but far off center, and I didn’t find these seats comfortable for viewing. However, I tried out the Category C seats and except for the ones way in the upper corners, they’re not too bad. I rather liked the ones at dead center of the ends, under the scoreboard.

Beijing Institute of Technology (in former times also known as Beijing Polytechnic) Gymnasium is a much smaller facility, only 5000 seats. It has no pretensions of being a tarted-up “indoor stadium,” it’s a gym, full stop. However, I really like this little venue, watching the volleyball action was a lot of fun here (unlike Capital). BIT Gym is also a renovation, it is very compact so no seat is far from the action, and it’s one of the few venues I’ve been in where the difference between the quality of Cat A and Cat C seats is not very meaningful. There is great visibility from everywhere even in the corners, so here’s an opportunity to save some money by grabbing cheaper seats, and still feel like you’re right on top of the action. The rows also have enough leg room for comfort. All of the interior finishes have been refurbished so it almost feels like a new facility.

Public entry is up outdoor “monumental” steps so wheelchair access is through a ground level side entrance and then up to main seating concourse using lift. This facility has primarily Chinese toilets not Western, but they are clean and serviceable. There is very little indoor lobby or circulation area, you pretty much enter into a vestibule and then into the gym itself. There are no concession areas inside, so refreshment, merchandising, and other services are in temporary tents on the raised plaza immediately outside the vestibule doors. Security and ticket check is set up away from this area, so once inside the perimeter, it is possible to freely go in and out of the arena to the concessions plaza. The Gym is sort of buried in the middle of a fairly large campus, which is very pleasant, quiet, and tree-shaded, as Chinese university campuses go. I believe it will be fairly easily accessed from one of the nearly-completed Line 10 subway stations (about a 15-20 min walk to the “back gate”) or via taxi.

If you have or can get tickets to one of the volleyball prelim sessions (all starting 9:00 a.m.) in this facility, I highly recommend giving it a try.

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jiejie, I really enjoy your reviews of the venues, they are far more interesting and informative than anyone would get in any official publication. Thanks for the good work and I hope you get the chance to post more of them.

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Shay shay (sp?) Jiejie! I too have never been enthralled with Capital Indoor Stadium based on what I saw in photos--no energy or life at all. I feel spoiled with the newer upscale facilities like Wukesong and National Indoor Stadium, as well as the numerous ones built over the last 25 years worldwide. Perhaps it should been regutted and built as if it was new one.

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