All the important facts about the 2012 Olympic Stadium in London
Another four years have flown by and after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, one of the greates sporting events is back in Europe, this time in London. It has been 60 years since London has hosted the Olympics and a lot of time and effort has gone into the preparations.
Not least of all, it was decided that a new stadium was needed as the primary location for some of the most watched and followed events in athletics as well as the opening and closing ceremony. It is certainly going to be a busy place for the two and a half week duration of the event.
So where exactly is the stadium
In order to accommodate the Olympic events, athletes, coaches and spectators and entire new sporting complex was built and aptly called Olympic Park. Situated in the eastern part of the capital, in Stratford, the complex includes accommodation for athletes and their entourage, the main aquatic centre and of course the Olympic Stadium.
Olympic Park London
Quick facts about the stadium
The new Olympic Stadium was designed and built to cater for 80,000 people in an all-seated capacity. This makes it the third largest stadium in the UK after Wembley and Twickenham. Surprisingly, the stadium was designed to be easily converted to a smaller capacity after the Olympics. But it does make sense to have it easily converted, as it does increase the potential of finding an organisation to use the stadium after the 2012 events are over.
In order to enable TV coverage with freeze frames in HD a total of 14 lighting towers are needed in order to ensure an even light distribution even on overcast or darker days.
Accurate construction costs are difficult to come by, but estimates vary between £450m and £550.
The stadium will feature a roof that should help protect a little bit from adverse weather conditions; given the 2012 summer so far it is likely to be used a lot. But unlike many other modern stadiums the roof is a temporary structure that will only cover two thirds of the seating area. This means that on rainy days a lot of people will still get wet, including the athletes, making conditions rather difficult.
Personally, I agree with a lot of critics of the stadium that visually it neither appealing nor unappealing and I am a little disappointed. Beijing's bird nest was a far more impressive design and construction providing for a very unique visual design that looked almost impossible to build.
Architectural design critics have had some rather harsh opinions, with one of the more hard hitting ones coming from Tom Dyckhoff in The Times, who wrote that it is "tragically underwhelming… Architecture of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics will, in years to come, be seen by historians as a cunning indicator of the decline of the West and the rise of the East." He does have a point.
At half a billion pound (estimates vary) it was certainly not a small or cheap undertaking. The cost of construction was cause for a certain amount of controversy, especially at t a time when the UK is running huge spending deficits.
Between design and construction it took a total of four years from 2007 to 2011. For the four year period it has been one of Europe's largest construction projects, and at its peak had about 600 construction and engineering workers on site.
Use after the Olympics
The big question for a very long time was what the Olympic Stadium would be used for after the games are over. After the Olympics and Paralympics, the sporting arena will host the 2017 World Athletics Championship, but what then.
Since 2010 there have been two main competing bids for the stadium post-Olympics. Both came from English football (soccer) clubs, which were Tottenham Hotspurs and West Ham United. After a review period West Ham United was selected, but this was only the start of a controversial time of judicial reviews, objections and an eventual collapsed deal. At the time of writing there is still no final decision as to who will be taking over the stadium.
Image Credit: Torcello Trio