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Temporary VS. Permanent (Olympic Venues)


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I think that we need to look for the reasons why the IOC would be worried about things such as sustainability, cost of the SOG and legacy. After all, they are not as important for the SOG as they are for the cities which host it.

IMO, to find an answer for this question we have to look back to Montreal '76. The impact of the financial burden to host the IOC really damaged the city. The public reaction was so negative that the SOG came close to an end when nobody put forward a bid for the 1984 SOG. Then, LA came to the rescue and we all know the history.

With LA came a new financial model that would make the SOG profitable, avoiding what happened in 1976, right? Not really. If we look closely, that model could only be implemented fully in the US, where private investors can be mobilized to carry a bid and an Olympic project without much government spending. In most countries - including developed ones -, the government still needs to pay for most of the bill. However, Seoul and Barcelona proved that other ways to attract public support to this massive spending might be possible. Seoul has bet on national pride and Barcelona on urban transformation. So, nobody really cares if the 1988 or the 1992 SOG were profitable. What came next for these hosts is what counts. Those cities managed to change the way they were viewed before and after the Games, both in the perspective of their residents and in the perspective of the world.

The big question is whether it is possible to severely drive down the costs of hosting an SOG. This theory is yet to be proved. Besides, are the strategies to drive down these costs, such as temporary venues, valid? It is still difficult to assess. What the IOC has done was to put a limit on the number of athletes and events. This allows the plan for the infrastructure, especially the OV and venues to be kept under control. Basically, there is a limit on the size of the Games, otherwise we would have an ever increasing trend of adding sports to the Olympic program.

So, looking back to Seoul and Barcelona, Barcelona makes an even better case. After all, after Seoul promoted Korean national pride, it will be difficult for Korea to put another successful bid based on the same concept. However, the example of Barcelona might be replicated in several cities within the same country or in the same city after a proper interval.

Besides, if looking more broadly to what happened to Barcelona after 1992, the SOG actually were very profitable. And they were profitable because there was massive public spending. After all, the investment in infrastructure attracted more tourists, raised the property prices, increased sales on the local retail stores, attracted new businesses, etc. So, I bet that the city and the citizens of Barcelona have got their payment in jobs, salary increases, property value and tax revenue to pay for their investment several times.

That's why I think that the amount to be spent is not that important, unless it is a significant size of the income of the country or city bankrolling it such as in Greece or if there is no expected long term benefit from it. That's why legacy and sustainability are so important. If a city cannot prove to have a significant long term legacy from the Games, then cost becomes an issue, since it can drive down public support especially after the games take place. If you leave less legacy to be used, the chances of an SOG being an extravaganza are higher than if you invest bigtime, but can find a way to collect it later.

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Profitable is a very loose term. Infrastructure is an investment not a cost.

There are also 2 or more budgets. The cost of running the games, which can easily turn a profit, and the cost of staging the Games, which if aligned to the city's need will be a real investment.

It doesn't matter if Athens or Beijing or London spend more. Its the city that gets the most value for their money.

A Games is not profitable because of massive spending. The LOCOG job depending on market conditions can be replicated elsewhere in terms of marketing/overlay etc.

Cities need to stick to the same principles...think smart, get value for money, build what you need. Try and accommodate the Games in your city's vision and not vice versa.

Its also remains unfortunate that many still cannot grasp that there are 2 budgets, so comparing profits between Games, and in different market conditions is perhaps pointless

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Profitable is a very loose term. Infrastructure is an investment not a cost.

There are also 2 or more budgets. The cost of running the games, which can easily turn a profit, and the cost of staging the Games, which if aligned to the city's need will be a real investment.

It doesn't matter if Athens or Beijing or London spend more. Its the city that gets the most value for their money.

A Games is not profitable because of massive spending. The LOCOG job depending on market conditions can be replicated elsewhere in terms of marketing/overlay etc.

Cities need to stick to the same principles...think smart, get value for money, build what you need. Try and accommodate the Games in your city's vision and not vice versa.

Its also remains unfortunate that many still cannot grasp that there are 2 budgets, so comparing profits between Games, and in different market conditions is perhaps pointless

Mo,

We don't have get in the technicalities of the accounting system to prove the point. Investment is different from costs, but all companies consider the investment when assessing the profitability of a project. So, the investments should be taken into account. For instance, if you need to invest 20 billion dollars to build a high speed train that is going to generate a yearly profit of 1 million dollars, the project is not considered profitable.

Regarding the 2 budgets, I think that analyzing them separately is only interesting to the IOC and the OCOG, but not to the host city. The OCOG budget relates to the expenditures under the OCOG responsibility, which does not include the construction of infrastructure or permanent venues. After all, the IOC considers that some other entity (government or private investor) provides or rents them the venue for the use during the SOG. In the end of the day, this separation only fits the IOC needs to say that the SOG are always profitable. However, when assessing the outcome of an SOG for a city, we must look at the full bill. So, if an administration builds a bunch of venues that end up not being used afterwards, it is a problem for the government and it might become a problem for the IOC. That's the nature of the Montreal issue and is also part of the Greek debt problem that the EU is facing. The IOC lost no money in either one of them, but such an event might have damaged the survival of the SOG.

However, what the 2 budgets help us to assess is how much the two different approaches weigh on the OCOG budget. A temporary-venue approach will increase the size of the OCOG budget, as it was pointed out in the 2016 Chicago Evaluation Report. However, an permanent-venue approach will make it smaller, but will transfer the burden elsewhere. So, on that grounds, it would be easier to be profitable with less temporary venues.

But that's not the point. The main point is how the population of the host city or country will perceive the experience of hosting in the long term. That will be relevant for triggering other cities to bid on the same grounds. So, the amount to be spent is irrelevant if the city or country considers that the SOG has brought significant improvements in their lives. The problem of the spending is not the size of it, but what you get from it.

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Its unlikely that the IOC will really be in favour of the Chicago type budget where temporary extends to "major works".

LOCOG is not paying for the temporary basketball arena, neither is it paying for the temporary upper tier of the Olympic stadium. This is the approach the IOC was against and the approach presented by Chicago. So, yes, it is very important to distinguish between the two.

I am with the IOC on this one. The OCOG budget should not be stretched to the limit by adding the risk of capital projects, large in scope, which are "overally" declared as temporary structures. OCOG should stick to unrisky projects e.g. procurement of temporary seats, which can be arranged for a fixed price and is in easy reach without any major risks of escalations or project mismanagement.

On the issue of profitability, many do not consider all the revenues and benefits. A new public transport system e.g. BRT in Cape Town, will NOT run on an operating profit but a loss, but the benefit beyond financial terms is well worth the delivery of this critical infrastructure, part of transforming the entire city.

The host city country or citizens aren't always the smartest. So I really don't think relying on their "perception" alone is what is needed.

The city needs to prioritize and as I've said above align the Games with its vision and not vice versa.

The principles of value for money, build what you need, and investment over cost will always lead to an informed decision.

The decision to cancel the temporary Greenwich arenas have more to do with politics in the scheme of things. Its not really about legacy of saving costs, when you consider the size of the ODA budget, and how overpriced the Olympic stadium is.

We can't look at the full bill without distinguishing between the two at some point.

OCOG budget: run the exhibition in the exhibition hall, branding, marketing, transport, security inside the venue

ODA: build the exhibition hall, various sources of funding, ultimate risk of delivering project, involving all spheres of public and private sector where possible.

1. The Games must run well to improve tourism, awareness and to get the full marketing benefit. This is why the OCOG budget must be "de-risked" from major temporary and permanent works. A well run Games will always be remembered. The city will be deemed first world and capable. A city in a boom will benefit more from the broadcast/sponsors revenues and therefore require fewer loterry/government/other revenues.

2. The Games infrastructure must function during and after the Games. This is the benefit for the citizens if it is designed for the city, offering both an event service and a scaled down post Games service e.g. a fleet of buses dedicated to a stadium shuttle in peak demand being spread across the city after the Games.

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It's the public's money. Who cares how it's spent...so long as there new monuments to be seen!! :lol:

Baron, you gotta stop channelling the spirit of our much missed late leader the WOF. next thing you know business leaders from salt Lake City will be coming up to you offering money in exchange for a winter games.... :P

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  • 5 weeks later...

An interesting take on the permanent versus temporary issue:

Coming soon: Olympic stadium in a box

THE spectacular and expensive Water Cube and Bird's Nest stadiums were focal points of the Beijing games, but the future of Olympic architecture may well be found in a box.

Australian architect John Barrow, whose firm Populous is working on the London 2012 Olympic Games infrastructure, says a move towards sustainable games architecture could see the introduction of the "stadium in a box".

His idea is to design and construct something affordable, modular, lightweight and flexible, which can be modified and transported from host city to host city.

Mr Barrow said such a concept would mean hosting an Olympic Games could be made more affordable, and cities wouldn't be left with venues they had no use for after the event.

"You won't see the big statements like Beijing, or even Athens, I don't think, because countries just don't have that sort of available funding anymore," Mr Barrow said.

"To put on an Olympics like London, it's STG9.23 billion ($15.75 billion) all up, and that's really at the bottom end of the budget. If you're a third world country, you will never have the funds you need to build a full-on, 80,000-seat stadium for an Olympics or a major international event.

"So let's be more modest about the architectural iconography and be more practical about this - it can still be fabulous and beautiful and very dynamic and maybe iconic, but it will be something which is sustainable because it's so much lighter."

Mr Barrow said the term "stadium in a box" was slightly tongue-in-cheek, but the concept he was talking about was already being put into practice.

In the design for the London Olympics, there are four permanent buildings, and the rest of the sites in the surrounding London boroughs will be returned to parkland after the games.

"(This technology) is here now, it's achievable now," Mr Barrow said.

"What we're doing with the London Olympics, the stuff you're not seeing, is the design of the temporary venues, which involves this exact thinking.

"It's quite exciting that when we look at projects now, we'll look at a core facility which is permanent, which houses all the VIPs and all the things you need, but the rest of it, frankly, can be very light touch, very lightweight and it can be brought in when you need it."

Mr Barrow said the move towards sustainable Olympic infrastructure began with the Sydney Games in 2000.

"That was the starting point for our company in thinking sustainably, and the first real attempt at a sustainable Olympic stadium," he said.

"It incorporated fabulous features like the rainwater collection (that) had never really been looked at before, the natural convection up through those big towers from the concourses, and the natural lighting through the roofing.

"But more importantly, there was proper consideration of the legacy and what happens afterwards, and that's the real message."

News.com.au

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I'm glad to see this story^^^^^. Somebody is thinking about the bigger picture. I suspect the plan won't actually come off, but at least the issue is getting some attention. Can't imagine the IOC would be crazy about this though...

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Some nice soundbites there; I'm not sure how much can be carried into reality...

From a local legacy standpoint it's certainly a good thing that as much of the stadium can be taken down as is (or isn't) needed after the Games - if West Ham move in it can be downsized to 50,000, if it's going to be a small athletics stadium only it can be downsized to 25,000. And the temporary basketball arena and the like are also good moves in reducing unneeded venues.

But I don't know how far you can go with the argument that this makes Olympics more affordable for developing countries. Yes, labour and land cost less in almost any other city on earth compared to London, but it's still not a cheap structure. It's a step in the right direction certainly; but all it's really doing is making it more affordable for developed countries to host! Even London is baulking under the weight and expectation of an Olympics, even with temporary structures to ease the financial outlay. Let's not get ahead of ourselves and pretent that any developing countries other than the biggest can possibly hope to hold an Olympic Games.

The biggest issues are not the stadiums anyway, they are the infrastructure, hotels, transport etc.

Rio, of course, is going in a completely different direction. Have a smaller athletics stadium built up from an existing venue, and using a massive existing stadium for the ceremonies. I'm still not 100% thrilled with the dual stadium plan, but from an affordability and legacy standpoint, it makes sense for them. It's good, in that sense, to see the IOC aren't fixated on Beijing-esque structures. I'm not sure how relevent Rio's experiment is to future hosts' plans though as they had a unique set of circumstances; namely an exisiting athletics stadium which looks as though it can only be physically expanded to the IOC's minimum capacity requirements (60,000) plus an iconic and massive existing stadium ideal for ceremonies.

Most hosts would either renovate an existing stadium to a bigger capacity than 60k and have everything in there (e.g. Athens), build from scratch (e.g. Beijing) or come up with a stadium which can be reconfigured after the Games (e.g. Atlanta and London). Rio is therefore probably less of a pointer to future hosts' stadium plans than London.

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