Monday, January 05, 2015

Olympic Stadium Woes

There is an interesting NYT article about the proposed stadium for Tokyo's upcoming 2020 Olympics.  They're fighting over the size and cost of the thing and (especially) its post-Olympic future. 
Officials here have reacted to the public outcry by reducing the proposed stadium’s size and budget. Ms. Hadid’s earlier version came in at about $2.5 billion, more than twice the $1.1 billion originally allocated for the stadium.
The Sport Council at first called for a retractable roof to soundproof future cultural events like concerts. The steep cost of building and maintaining such an apparatus, critics said, would take away valuable materials and financial resources still needed for reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
After sustained objections from critics, including Mr. Maki and the 2013 Pritzker winner Toyo Ito, the Japanese government reduced the stadium’s budget to $1.37 billion and its site to 52 acres, down from 71. The revised design still includes a retractable roof.
This made me think of a recent article I saw about the proposed sites for a 2024 San Francisco Olympics.
While San Francisco is the named city in its bid, the proposal for the Games is a regional effort. Venues stretch from San Pablo Reservoir in the East Bay for rowing to the San Jose Convention Center for judo, wrestling and tae kwon do, but 17 of the 26 venues would be in San Francisco. Bid organizers, led by San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer, who won over Lee on the idea, stress that their plan is evolving. A number of backup sites are available if needed.
But as it stands, 23 of the 26 planned venues are either already built, like Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara; in development, like the Golden State Warriors’ arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay; or will be temporary, including a $350 million, 65,000-seat “pop-up” stadium on a damp stretch of land in Brisbane where track and field events and the Opening and Closing ceremonies would be held.
Rather than go the route of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where construction of major venues helped drive costs to an estimated $44 billion, San Francisco is trying to apply the model used in London in 2012. The Games there were concentrated primarily in existing, temporary or shrinkable facilities and ended with a surplus, according to the London organizing committee’s year-after financial report.
 So in Tokyo, they're talking about a $1370 million dollar stadium while in SF, they're talking about $350 million.  It sounds like SF would have a more temporary approach.  (I think that's what 'pop-up' means.)  While Tokyo wants something permanent and useful beyond 2020.  Both approaches have something to say for them.  Beijing spent a boatload of money on their very pretty site but it's now mostly empty.  The future prospect must be in place before moving forward for it to make financial sense.

The NYT article mentions the awful mess that Montreal made in '76. 
Montreal’s stadium, for example, designed for the 1976 Olympics by the French architect Roger Taillibert, left the city with more than $2 billion in debt that took 30 years to repay, earning the arena a nickname change from the Big O to the Big Owe. Scheduled events there are sporadic, as they are for the stadium used for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, which has been widely criticized for not having a post-Olympics plan.
 Montreal is tricky as a cautionary tale.  The mayor of the city kind of went crazy with the money.  He treated it as if there was no possible limit.  This included lavish bonuses and an apparent belief that there was no possible way of losing money.  And kind of realistic approach today would give better results.

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