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Sydney's White Elephants bleeding money


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We're still paying off Olympics

Daily Telegraph

March 20, 2006

THE 2000 Olympics is draining NSW taxpayers of $42 million a year more than five years on despite the private sector now making a financial success out of the SuperDome.

An investigation by The Daily Telegraph has revealed that Sydney Olympic Park alone cost $38 million in government subsidies last year with another $37 million public contribution pencilled in for 2005-06.

NSW Department of Sport and Recreation figures show another $4.2 million in taxpayer subsidies were swallowed up last year at the Olympic equestrian, shooting and rowing facilities.

On the positive side, the Penrith Whitewater Stadium finished 2004-05 with a $48,739 profit for owners Penrith Council.

The ongoing costs for the greatest Olympics ever come as Melbourne is still awaiting the final bill for its Commonwealth Games with the price tag – after revenue – now believed to be in the vicinity of $900 million.

The Sydney Olympic Park Authority continues to be a loss-maker even though the SuperDome, the indoor venue for the Games, is now ranked the second highest-grossing entertainment arena in the world.

But taxpayers won't see any bene- fit from the SuperDome, which had $50.2 million in ticket sales revenue in 2005, because it is owned by PBL on a lease until 2031.

Testra Stadium, also privately owned, recorded a modest $496,000 profit last year but owner Stadium Australia Group is understood to be struggling to service its debt. Shares sold for $5 in 1998 are now worth 11c.

Olympic Park finance executive director Nick Hubble said a government subsidy will be required for the precinct for some years into the future, although he expects it to gradually fall.

He said much of the subsidy is required to develop the 425ha of parklands on the precinct.

A long term vision for residential and commercial redevelopment – contained in a master plan – has been held up in planning delays and disputes over detail.

A big breakthrough came last year with the go-ahead given to Multiplex and Babcock & Brown to build three residential towers containing about 700 apartments.

In more recent good news, the Commonwealth Bank has announced a call centre with hundreds of jobs on a site on Dawn Fraser Avenue.

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Does anyone have any recent reports on the financial viability of the Athens' venues?

Privately financed Centennial Olympic Stadium/Turner Field and Georgia tax payers who still don't pay for its upkeep is pictured below. Other than a lightly used tennis venue and a deconstructed shooting venue, I believe all the Atlanta venues are still in use, including the Olympic village.

What about Barcelona's venue's 14 years later?

I understand that Seoul was left with plenty of white elephant venues.

I also understand that most of LA's are still in productive use.

Turner_Field.jpg

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There have been changes  at   the  US velodromes.The Atlanta  Velodrome was  temporary.  Does anyone know if the track is in use elsewhere? The LA Velodrome was razed but an indoor one was built to replace it at the same location.
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Actually, if you read the report, the Sydney venues are all doinf fine and paying their way _ it's mainly the upkeep of the main Olympic Park precinct that's costing money. But then again, any public precinct in any city of the world costs money to maintain _ would you call Central Park NY, Trafalgar Square London etc etc, white elephants because they need to be maintained.
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I understand that Seoul was left with plenty of white elephant venues.

And they were crazy enough to build an additional 8 soccer-only stadia across the country 5 years ago.  I'm surprised that IOC and FIFA don't tell the bidding cites/countries 'enough is enough.'  Instead, they encourage building these new 'white elephant' installations.

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I think both the IOC and FIFA could care less about potential white elephants.  Their primary concern is that the venues function for the intended events - the Olympic Games and the World Cup.

About South Korea and the World Cup.  They had no choice but to build those stadiums.  The country did not have the current infrastructure in place prior to co-hosting the World Cup.  

Here's what I thought was ludicrous.  Why did South Korea build a brand new soccer stadium in Seoul when they could have just refurbished the existing Olympic Stadium?  It would've saved a ton of money and the Olympic Stadium isn't that old anyway.

As for Barcelona, I believe many of their venues are still in use.

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Here's what I thought was ludicrous.  Why did South Korea build a brand new soccer stadium in Seoul when they could have just refurbished the existing Olympic Stadium?  It would've saved a ton of money and the Olympic Stadium isn't that old anyway.

That's exactly what I'm saying.  The Koreans went overboard -- and it's up to the IOC and FIFA to enforce a little restraint in this edifice complex since these white elephants are being built because of them.

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As roltel said,the Sydney venues are not white elephants.It cost money to maintain Olympic Park as it would with any park as large as this in the world...

I guess that just because its called "Olympic" Park,that any associated cost will always refer back to Sydney 2000.Maybe that should of called it Homebush Park.

It cost Melbourne nearly the same amount every year to set Albert Park up for the Grand Prix and that last 2 days!

Rubbish article

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I think the whole article is a beat up..  I heard the dome was one of the most successful venues in Australia.

It is of course hard to maintain the park as it is not very close to the city to incorporate it into city festivals and events.  The same will be said of all cities that build an enormous Olympic Park so far out of the city centre.  The ideal thing would be for the local communities in the area to utilise it more, make it the base for more clubs and hire its facilities out cheaply to more community groups.  It may not pay the rent, but it will cultivate a sense of purpose and it would be used more.

THe beauty with the MCG in Melbourne and the whole sports precinct in Melbourne is that it is right in the middle of all the action in the city centre.

The Homebush precinct is virtually in an industrial estate surrounded by warehouses that does not give it a sense of happening and life. I used to store product for my business right behind the main stadium and it is quite a lifeless area, with this imposing structure dominating the area. Even driving along Australia drive you get this sense that once there was something amazing happening here but it is all over.

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I understand that Seoul was left with plenty of white elephant venues.

And they were crazy enough to build an additional 8 soccer-only stadia across the country 5 years ago.  I'm surprised that IOC and FIFA don't tell the bidding cites/countries 'enough is enough.'  Instead, they encourage building these new 'white elephant' installations.

To be honest, all the Koreans care about it the 'glory of the Fatherland'. Build 100 white elephants? No problem as long as it looks impressive for 2 weeks.

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I think the whole article is a beat up..  I heard the dome was one of the most successful venues in Australia.

It is of course hard to maintain the park as it is not very close to the city to incorporate it into city festivals and events.  The same will be said of all cities that build an enormous Olympic Park so far out of the city centre.  The ideal thing would be for the local communities in the area to utilise it more, make it the base for more clubs and hire its facilities out cheaply to more community groups.  It may not pay the rent, but it will cultivate a sense of purpose and it would be used more.

THe beauty with the MCG in Melbourne and the whole sports precinct in Melbourne is that it is right in the middle of all the action in the city centre.

The Homebush precinct is virtually in an industrial estate surrounded by warehouses that does not give it a sense of happening and life. I used to store product for my business right behind the main stadium and it is quite a lifeless area, with this imposing structure dominating the area. Even driving along Australia drive you get this sense that once there was something amazing happening here but it is all over.

"The Homebush precinct is virtually in an industrial estate surrounded by warehouses that does not give it a sense of happening and life"

Thats a bit unfair...Yes...in one area west of Telstra Stadium,there are some warehouses behind..in fact..the largest was the IBC...but to say that Sydney Olympic Park is located in the middle of an industrial park is certainly unfair to what happened to that site due to the Olympics..Sydney Olympic Park is now an incredible parkland area including the Millennium Parklands and Bicentennial Park...The mangroves,wildlife and boardwalks there are amazing..Yes..its not located close to the CBD..(Sydney already has a sporting precinct there called Moore Park which contains 2 stadiums of 40,000 plus),but Homebush is smack bang in the geographical centre of Sydney.Perfectly located for a growing city and supplied by an excellent (when they wish too) public transport network.

Sure..it can be lifeless when there are no events on for that day,but so too in Melbourne..Stroll down to the MCG and Melbourne Park toomorrow and I can tell you it feels a little bit of a let down now the Games are over.I find it quite dissapointing that Melbourne concentrates everything around the CBD.Ask anyone out here in the far Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne and I can tell you that things such as Waverley really leave a sour taste in the mouth.

As for Homebush..then if it takes $40 million to maintain these parklands and if the venues are doing well(which they are),then I really have no problem at all with the expense.

homebush3de.jpg

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Does anyone have any recent reports on the financial viability of the Athens' venues?

Privately financed Centennial Olympic Stadium/Turner Field and Georgia tax payers who still don't pay for its upkeep is pictured below. Other than a lightly used tennis venue and a deconstructed shooting venue, I believe all the Atlanta venues are still in use, including the Olympic village.

What about Barcelona's venue's 14 years later?

I understand that Seoul was left with plenty of white elephant venues.

I also understand that most of LA's are still in productive use.

Turner_Field.jpg

The village is still used, but is quite a shady place to live if you go to Georgia State University, though they look nice from the street still!

The horsepark has probably done the best, it is thriving. The beach volleyball stadium is gone.

The veledrome is at the olympic training center in Alabama.

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  • 2 weeks later...

:angry: Like many here, I believe that this report is false BS.

What Homebush needs is to develop a city precinct and bid for more individual events.   Like all citys that host a major event, the facilities are left as a legacy.

Christchurch went through the same thing after 1974 and they were still moaning about QEII park right up till 1990 when that venue was finally paid off.  Few people used the stadium and the Pool was the only thing bringing in revenue for years.

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As I and others have said, Sydney's venues ARE being used and are doing quite well. It's just the big public precinct _ basically a huge outdoor plaza area with a few big parks next to it _ that is costing money to maintain. As it would in any city.

Sydney Olympic Park's problem is it hasn't really found a niche as a destination in its own right since the 2000 Games, beyond being somewhere you pass through on the way to football games and concerts etc at the various venues there. At the moment, it is pretty lively and full _ the yearly Sydney Royal Easter Show is in swing. But in a few weeks those crowds will go and it will be emptyish again. It's not as if it isn't a pleasant place to go _ it's a stop on the way for any visitors that come to Sydney that I show around _ but it just needs a bit more to attract people in its own right.

On my various visits since 2000, one problem I've come across is the lack of restaurants and food outlets to encourage one to come early and linger before a footy game or concert. Apart from one largish pub with (pretty awful) fast food, there's only one smallish restaurant at the Novotel there and a very small cafe/muffin shop. I know it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation _ why do you need eating venues when you only get crowds a few times a month? _ but it would be a start.

A bit more transport would help. At the moment, if you don't have a car, about the only transport there is the special trains to Olympic Park station. Maybe a bus hub nearby would help get more people traffic through (and give some incentive for more retail/eating facilities).

And then perhaps start organising more community events there outside of sports events/concert times. I once spent a very nice Saturday afternoon/evening there taking some aunts who were visiting from Sweden  to an aboriginal cultural festival at Bicentennial Park _ it was great, with stands selling handicrafts, bush tucker and a great sound and light show at the end. More of this sort of thing would help.

Ultimately, it seems the NSW Government's plan also involves opening up more nerarby areas for housing development. As long as it's done well (and most of the developments nearby are good so far _ medium to upmarket residential areas rather than low-income), it would also work as a further boost to get more life to the area.

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Sydney Olympic Park has actually changed a lot in the past

few years.

They do actually have a huge range of community events every year, most of which are free.

* They have an outdoor movie season, free, which runs in

January. This year it was part of the Sydney Festival.

* Australia Day festival.

* They have a free outdoor music concert series, this year

attracting about 25,000 people over 4 nights.

* They, and most of the venues, run school holiday programs

over the 4 school holiday periods.

* They also have outdoor carols around Christmas time.

Now these things do cost money, but essentially these are

public events that would cost any city money and are there for the public to enjoy.

The Aboriginal festival roltel mentioned ran again the following year but was not held at Olympic Park again due to the costs.

In addition to these events, they also stage other

non-sporting events:

Easter Show

Art Express and other art shows

Big Day Out

Sydney Festival events sometimes

And they also have a huge education program where schools

are offered all kinds of excursions which apparently is really successful.

So all in all it's not a wasteland. It's a huge site where believe it or not crowds can seem tiny.

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So, where are the main staging areas for Sydney's upcoming World Youth Day event in 2008?

Link: 2008 World Youth Day In 2008

Also, can I assume that the Olympic Park will have a lot of say of hosting some events for the 2009 World Masters Games?

Sydney 2009 World Masters Games

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What many people don't know is that Sydney Olympic Park

operates very similarly to a local council.

Local Councils use tax payer's money for a host of services,

and so does Sydney Olympic Park.

For instance, many people don't know that like a local

council they employ 24 hour security, cleaners and

landscapers.

I think people are making a bigger deal out of this simply

because it's an Olympic site. It can get a little annoying.

In addition to all the venues built for the Olympics, 5 smaller

sporting venues have been built, or fitted out and opened since.

- Sports Halls - http://www.sportshalls.com.au/

- Golf Centre - http://www.sopgolf.com.au/

- Trapeze centre - http://www.circusarts.com.au/

- Skate Park - http://www.monsterpark.com.au/

- BMX dirt track facility

All these, along with the Tennis Centre, Athletic Centre, Hockey Centre, Sports Centre and Aquatic Centre are public facilities, open to the public till late, and they are well used.

It's certainly not a dead space.

Currently, two new office buildings are being built, one for the

NSW institute of Sport and another for the Commonwealth

Bank.

Also starting soon is a new 5 star hotel for the business

events and conferences sector, as well as other new commercial and residential buildings.

It just takes a little time.

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Also, can I assume that the Olympic Park will have a lot of say of hosting some events for the 2009 World Masters Games?

Sydney 2009 World Masters Games

I think the World Masters Games will be very similar to the

Olympic Games in the way they are staged, all but minus the

crowds and the really tight security.

There will be crowds I'm sure, but not really huge crowds.

I think every main venue at Sydney Olympic Park is being

used, and it will be the hub of the games, while other city

venues (a lot of them non-Olympic venues) will also be used.

I'm sure Sydney Olympic Park will also plan a lot of festivities

around that time for the event.

The World Youth day I don't know.

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Thanks for that Kay. Are you involved with the Sydney Olympic Park authorities at all?

I was there again on Good Friday for the Easter Show, and yes, when the place is full it does have a buzz (100,000 plus on the day). There's no denying it's a great asset for the city. I think you're right _ part of the notion of it being underused is just the sheer scale of the area _ it takes a huge event of the scale of the Olympics or to a lesser extent the Easter Show to give the impression of it being fully used. As you said, it is an area specifically designed to be able to handle huge crowds.

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No problems roltel.

I'm indirectly 'involved'.

I'm in the area a bit and am aware of all the changes occuring.

Not to harp on about this, but here are a few more stats about the site and its usage.

Annual visitation, 2000-2005:

2000 - 4,662,250

2002 - 5,525,769

2003 - 6,825,793 (including 700,000 for the Rugby World Cup)

2004 - 6,632,506

2005 - 7,756,110

Number of events at Telstra Stadium, 2001-2006:

2001 - 10

2002 - 11

2003 - 17 (plus 7 for the Rugby World Cup)

2004 - 21

2005 - 29

2006 - 38

Total attendances at Telstra Stadium, 2002-2005:

2002 - 633,438

2003 - 1,333,582 (including 550,795 for the Rugby World Cup)

2004 - 811,961

2005 - 961,418

The Sydney SuperDome was also named as the second highest grossing venue in the world after Madison Square Garden. While not the second busiest (I think it's 6th) it is making quite a bit of money.

Source for all: Sydney Olympic Park Authority

So all in all, I don't know where people get the impression that the venues are white elephants.

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Thanks for those figs, Kay. Yeah, it annoys me too that there seems to be this perception that Sydney 2000 left a legacy of White Elephants, when it seems the reality is that the are becoming anything but.

Do you have any figures for attendance and crowds at the Superdome?

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Do you have any figures for attendance and crowds at the Superdome?

The SuperDome figures are not so easy to come by.

I have a few figures for attendance since the Olympics and Paralympics.

- 17,739 for WWE, Wrestling, 2004. Attendance record at SuperDome.

- 17,112 for WWE, Wrestling, 2003. Attendance record at SuperDome at the time.

- 14,805 for Basketball, 2004.

- 14,339 for Netball, 2004, a world record for Netball.

- 13,436 for Netball, 2004, a world record at the time for Netball.

- 12,350 for Netball, 2005.

- 10,507 for Netball, 2003, a world record at the time for Netball.

There was also another attendance record by WWE Sometime before the other two (or between them).

And this list doesn't include concerts (where the capacity wouldn't overly high die to the stage taking up one part of the seating. Still, crowds of over 10,000 are very impressive.

I think the SuperDome hosted about 34 events in 2005, which is a great number.

Also, I need to correct myself, the Telstra Stadium figures above are actually from the Telstra Stadium website.

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