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stryker

Olympic Stadiums: Could Eugene and Birmingham be a solution?

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Eric Garcetti had IMO the most noteworthy quote after L.A. was officially awarded the 2028 SOGs: Make the Olympics fit your city, not the city fitting the Olympics. The ideas have been discussed ad nauseam when it comes to venues but I'm going to take a shot at what is perhaps the most problematic SOG venue that often sidelines otherwise viable prospective candidate cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston: the troubled Olympic Stadium. In the case of Los Angeles and Paris, both had stadiums ready to go, but for others, it's a hindrance. If you don't have a tenant prepared to take over the stadium after the SOGs you're left with a white elephant. The much talked about temporary stadium has been a disaster though London eventually founda permanent tenant but others such as Incheon's stadium for the Asian Games was a failure in that it was never scaled down capacity wise afterwards. Other proposals have been downright ridiculous (Hamburg's proposal to turn their Olympic Stadium into housing would've cost more in renovations than the actual construction cost to build the stadium in the first place)

So what's the solution? IMO, the IOC and the IAAF need to pay close heed to Eugene's hosting of the 2021 IAAF World Championships where the track stadium in Eugene will be expanded to 30,000 (possibly 40,000) and Birmingham's CWG proposal that expands Alexandria Stadium to 50,000 including 25,000 temporary seats. If this is acceptable for the IAAF, then it ought to be acceptable for an Olympics. Insisting on a 60,000-80,000 capacity stadium for athletics isn't going to increase the number of bidding cities. Accepting a smaller athletics stadium, with a larger football stadium hosting the ceremonies, is more economical and affordable.

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2 hours ago, stryker said:

Insisting on a 60,000-80,000 capacity stadium for athletics isn't going to increase the number of bidding cities. Accepting a smaller athletics stadium, with a larger football stadium hosting the ceremonies, is more economical and affordable.

Yes and no. Audiences for some sessions in this year's IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium were well over 50,000. A national stadium in a country with over 50 million inhabitants probably should be able to host athletics events before audiences of 60,000 or more.

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3 hours ago, stryker said:

So what's the solution? IMO, the IOC and the IAAF need to pay close heed to Eugene's hosting of the 2021 IAAF World Championships where the track stadium in Eugene will be expanded to 30,000 (possibly 40,000) and Birmingham's CWG proposal that expands Alexandria Stadium to 50,000 including 25,000 temporary seats. If this is acceptable for the IAAF, then it ought to be acceptable for an Olympics. Insisting on a 60,000-80,000 capacity stadium for athletics isn't going to increase the number of bidding cities. Accepting a smaller athletics stadium, with a larger football stadium hosting the ceremonies, is more economical and affordable.

The problem is that demand for tickets for the Olympics is very, very high. Tickets for the day of the 100m finals in London went for roughly $1,200 apiece. And with roughly 30,000 seats going to the IOC, athletes, athletes families, the media, corporate sponsors, etc there would be very few seats left for the public in a 40,000 seat Olympic stadium.

I think that London's original plan (25,000 permanent seats and 55,000 temporary seats) is the best compromise.

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17 hours ago, Nacre said:

 

I think that London's original plan (25,000 permanent seats and 55,000 temporary seats) is the best compromise.

The trouble is that concept is unproven if not an outright failure. To be fair, London had two football teams jockeying for their stadium so the original plan for it was scrapped. Incheon's Asian Games stadium is exhibit a for the large-scale capacity reduction being a pipe dream. Financially and logistically it doesn't appear feasible. Going back to Boston's failed bid, the idea of the proposed temporary athletics stadium was attacked for these very reasons by the no Olympics crowd.

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It always amazes me that an efficient engineering solution, that is affordable to build, has not been found to have a genuinely multi purpose stadium. I think London was ok but the Olympic stadium wasn't exactly impressive. I guess if you want to downsize you have to compromise on aesthetics. I remember London's bid design was a silvery space age structure but that was soon forgotten when the construction contractor got involved and it was costed.

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Or, more drastic...

Quote

 

Seb Coe this week:

“Just a simple thing: why are we wedded to a 400-metre track all the time?

“Why can we not have pop-up tracks, 300m tracks, in football stadiums, taking the sport to where we can reach people without necessarily having to be a championships stadium? 200m tracks.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/athletics/2017/10/04/lord-coe-suggests-ipl-style-auctions-franchises-pop-up-tracks/

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2 hours ago, Rob. said:

Seb Coe can be a sneaky bastard sometimes, but he's very smart and thoughtful, qualities which the international athletics movement really needs just now.

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He has some bold ideas I'll give Coe that. How many of them are actually achievable though? A 300m track that could fit inside a football stadium? That might solve the Olympic Stadium conundrum, but it's hard to see the IAAF going for it.

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7 hours ago, stryker said:

He has some bold ideas I'll give Coe that. How many of them are actually achievable though? A 300m track that could fit inside a football stadium? That might solve the Olympic Stadium conundrum, but it's hard to see the IAAF going for it.

Currently, it's hard to see the IAAF surviving unless it shapes up, with yet another corruption scandal just last month.

Initiatives which make the IAAF seem committed to value for money are probably a very good idea just now.

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Not all Olympics have athletics in the same stadium as the OC/CC - Rio did not, LA will not now with the OC/CC going to Inglewood, etc. Obviously, those are exceptions to the rule and not every city has a surplus of stadiums, but it is not a set-in-stone rule that the stadiums have to be shared. Many global cities have 80k+ stadiums, either for American football or actual football, and if not, they are either A) left over from previous sporting events and world cups (South Africa, Brazil, Japan, Korea, etc), or B ) serve other sports (MCG, many cricket stadiums elsewhere in the Commonwealth, etc). I think many cities at the moment cannot justify either A) building an additional stadium that will not have a guaranteed future (London's case), or B ) renovating their existing stadium to the point that it won't serve its original pre and post Games function well (ie adding a track to an American football stadium, decreasing capacity). I think that's another issue to look at IMO, but like Garcetti said, they Olympics should fit your city, not the other way around. I'm excited to see how future bids will go around that like Rio and LA did. Barcelona could do athletics in Montjuic and OC/CC in Camp Nou, Philadelphia could do athletics in Franklin Field and OC/CC in Lincoln Financial, etc.

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I think that London's original plan (25,000 permanent seats and 55,000 temporary seats) is the best compromise.

Agree with @stryker - If the concept fails, this will be one expensive mistake.

Planning these massive events isn't a child's play and requires looking at a lot of data points. Especially historical ones.

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200m tracks would mean doing away with the throwing events (discus, javelin, hammer); putting the pole vault bar somewhere else, and saying goodbye to the straight-away 100m dash.  A 200m track would also probably allow for a 35,000 seater only.  The org committees need to sell tickets -- and an 80,000 seat arena helps smooth out the Org Committee's bottom line.  Which is why anything less than a 400m track will probably NOT happen. 

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On 8/5/2018 at 10:43 AM, baron-pierreIV said:

 The org committees need to sell tickets -- and an 80,000 seat arena helps smooth out the Org Committee's bottom line.  Which is why anything less than a 400m track will probably NOT happen. 

Agree on the business end. On the flipside though, there's still no viable solution that allows a city hosting the Olympics to build a 60,000-80,000 seat stadium that doesn't turn into a cash bleeding white elephant unless there's a permanent tenant ready to step in and take it over (of course this doesn't apply to dictatorships who could care less as Beijing and Sochi proved).  Given the hostility towards the IOC over rising costs, the requirements really limit the number of potential hosts IMO. When the Boston bid collapsed, Los Angeles was really the only other option given that it had a stadium ready to go with the Coliseum. Even though it needed the platform track, it has that oval shape that readily adapts to it. There aren't many stadiums like that anymore, at least in the U.S. Most American football and football franchises that build new stadiums insist on a rectangular design for sight lines purposes. I've been to games at the Cotton Bowl and AT&T Stadium for both sports and I can say the sight lines are much better at AT&T Stadium. Australia's been a hot topic on the forums about their next prospective SOG bid but let's face it, the only stadium they have that's ready to go is the MCG given that Sydney is now rebuilding its main stadium in a rectangular format. No other Australian city really needs an 80,000 seat stadium at the moment (someone correct me on this if I am mistaken as I don't follow the Australian leagues closely).  Toronto is in the same boat. Unless the NFL decides to go there, there won't be a big stadium built anytime soon.

And until someone comes up with an idea to make the temporary stadium a viable solution which it has not shown it can be (Qatar says most of their stadiums will be demountable but look at the designs and it's hard to see how) this is going to continue to be a problem with finding cities that are willing to spend upwards of a billion dollars on a stadium for the Olympics that has no regular use afterwards.

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1 hour ago, stryker said:

And until someone comes up with an idea to make the temporary stadium a viable solution which it has not shown it can be (Qatar says most of their stadiums will be demountable but look at the designs and it's hard to see how) this is going to continue to be a problem with finding cities that are willing to spend upwards of a billion dollars on a stadium for the Olympics that has no regular use afterwards.

Temporary seating at athletics stadiums has been used many times before. In Canada alone there is Victoria's stadium for the 1994 Commonwealth Games reduced from 30,000 to 5,000 seating as well as Toronto's stadium for the 2015 Pan-American Games reduced from 12,500 seats to 3,700 permanent seats.  Australia's 2000 games left behind a huge stadium but even Sydney had 40,000 temporary seats. And while many fans and athletes hated Atlanta's athletics to baseball stadium plan, it worked very well for Atlanta (until the Braves relocated out of the city.)

The problem is political more than technical; the Olympics attract megalomaniac politicians and sports officials who want to "leave a legacy" in the form of a monumental building. London's original plan for the Olympic Stadium meanwhile has been undone by partisan politics.

A temporary athletics stadium converted afterwards into a baseball stadium for the Blue Jays in the same model as Atlanta's Olympics would be a reasonable choice for Toronto. The challenge isn't the stadium conversion so much as it is in convincing the IOC and International Association of Athletics Federations to accept another baseball-ish Olympic stadium.

Edited by Nacre

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19 hours ago, Nacre said:

 

Temporary seating at athletics stadiums has been used many times before. In Canada alone there is Victoria's stadium for the 1994 Commonwealth Games reduced from 30,000 to 5,000 seating as well as Toronto's stadium for the 2015 Pan-American Games reduced from 12,500 seats to 3,700 permanent seats.  Australia's 2000 games left behind a huge stadium but even Sydney had 40,000 temporary seats. And while many fans and athletes hated Atlanta's athletics to baseball stadium plan, it worked very well for Atlanta (until the Braves relocated out of the city.)

The problem is political more than technical; the Olympics attract megalomaniac politicians and sports officials who want to "leave a legacy" in the form of a monumental building. London's original plan for the Olympic Stadium meanwhile has been undone by partisan politics.

A temporary athletics stadium converted afterwards into a baseball stadium for the Blue Jays in the same model as Atlanta's Olympics would be a reasonable choice for Toronto. The challenge isn't the stadium conversion so much as it is in convincing the IOC and International Association of Athletics Federations to accept another baseball-ish Olympic stadium.

I won't deny that temporary seating for an athletics stadium can work on a small scale basis but on a large scale such as stadiums in London and Incheon it failure

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6 hours ago, stryker said:

I won't deny that temporary seating for an athletics stadium can work on a small scale basis but on a large scale such as stadiums in London and Incheon it failure

The Incheon stadium wasn't actually built as a temporary stadium, but as a permanent stadium that could be torn down. That's why the cost was so high.

London's problems have been the result of purely political decisions.

As I said, the IOC deserves the blame for attracting so many bad decision makers, and for perversely preferring the extravagant over the frugal. But there are ways for smart host cities to keep costs down even on the main stadium. What cities like Toronto need to do is to pick an option that works for them and then refuse to let either politicians or sporting officials change that plan.

Edited by Nacre

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43 minutes ago, Nacre said:

The Incheon stadium wasn't actually built as a temporary stadium, but as a permanent stadium that could be torn down. That's why the cost was so high.

London's problems have been the result of purely political decisions.

As I said, the IOC deserves the blame for attracting so many bad decision makers, and for perversely preferring the extravagant over the frugal. But there are ways for smart host cities to keep costs down even on the main stadium. What cities like Toronto need to do is to pick an option that works for them and then refuse to let either politicians or sporting officials change that plan.

Uhh.. if you're going to build a stadium, might want sporting officials to weigh in on that one.  Or else who is going to determine what works?  As stryker noted, much different when you're talking about an event like the Pan Ams or the Commonwealth games than with the Olympics.  All well and good to use something temporary, but if we're talking about a city like Toronto, what can they do that will make sense?  Would Rogers and the Blue Jays want any part of that?  I doubt the Argos would.

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8 hours ago, Nacre said:

The Incheon stadium wasn't actually built as a temporary stadium, but as a permanent stadium that could be torn down. That's why the cost was so high.

London's problems have been the result of purely political decisions.

As I said, the IOC deserves the blame for attracting so many bad decision makers, and for perversely preferring the extravagant over the frugal. But there are ways for smart host cities to keep costs down even on the main stadium. What cities like Toronto need to do is to pick an option that works for them and then refuse to let either politicians or sporting officials change that plan.

The Asian Games Stadium in Incheon was designed by Populous, the same firm that constructed London's Olympic Stadium with the same purpose in mind, to reduce capacity after the conclusion of the games to a a small athletics stadium as Inheon already a 50,000 plus football stadium with an athletics track nonetheless in Muhak Stadium. In the case of Incheon, the entire eastern stand was designed to be dismounted with only the western stand to be permanent. Post-games capacity would've been 30,000. After the Asian Games ended, it was determined to be costly to actually implement so now Incheon has a money draining stadium when they could've easily used Muhak Stadium instead. The idea was there the execution was not. 

I'd agree that part of London's problems were due to political decisions (the ongoing feud over the stadium between West Ham and Tottenham) but I do wonder if the plan to ultimately turn the stadium over for use to a football club had to do with whether or not scaling the stadium down from 80,000 to 20,000 was a feasible idea. 

As for Toronto, they are in the same boat that New York is in that none of their major sports franchises need a new stadium right now which is a huge impediment to any Olympic bid. The Blue Jays are in the process of seeking a major renovation of Rogers Centre so I don't think they leave anytime soon for a new field and anyways when that time comes, I highly doubt they move into a new stadium that lacks a retractable roof given the weather. It'd be a tall order to design a stadium with a retractable roof for baseball that could also fit an athletics track. 

In terms of the IOC, I think all host cities (minus those run by the likes of Putin and Xi) would like to keep costs down, but there just doesn't seem to be a viable way to do that right now with the large athletics stadium.

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Budapest awarded the 2023 IAAF World Championships. They will build a 40,000 seat stadium that will be scaled down to 15,000 and serve as a national athletics stadium after the event with the option the temporary seating could be restored (a future Budapest bid perhaps?) Eugene's expanded Hayward Field is only 30,000. I am a bit surprised the IAAF did not insist on Budapest have a larger capacity, which leads me to wonder again, if this can be a solution for the SOGs.

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