The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 24, 2014

Hosts' real Olympic challenge: after the games

(Continued)

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VANCOUVER, 2010

All games venues in Vancouver remain in use, with local authorities funding a $110 million trust to make sure that they don't fall into disrepair.

The most successful venue appears to be the Richmond Olympic speed skating Oval, a widely used community sports and events facility that attracts more than 550,000 visitors a year. Dozens of sports groups run regular programs at the Oval, which now houses two international-size rinks for hockey or speed skating, basketball and squash courts, an indoor track and a rowing tank. The venue, which has hosted numerous provincial, national and international championships in a variety of summer and winter sports, is cited as a positive legacy of the games.

Federal and provincial governments pay some of the Oval's operating costs, as well as for the Whistler Sliding Center, used by athletes as a training facility, and the Whistler Olympic Park.

But the athletes' village has not fared so well. The City of Vancouver had to take over financing for the 1,100-unit village after the developer stopped payment on its construction loan due to cost overruns and the 2008 financial crisis. The city has sold most, if not all, of the units, but it expects to lose nearly $300 million.

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BEIJING, 2008

Beijing, which spent more than $2 billion to build 31 venues for the 2008 Summer Games, is reaping some income and tourism benefits from two flagship venues, though many sites need government subsidies to meet hefty operation and maintenance costs.

The National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird's Nest because of its lattice design, has become a key Beijing landmark and a favored backdrop for visitors' snapshots. But few tourists are willing to pay more than $8 to tour the facility as enthusiasm for the 2008 Games fades, and the venue has struggled to fill its space with events.

The Water Cube — where U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps made history by winning eight gold medals — has been transformed into a water park popular among local families. Its operators even peddle purified glacier water under the Water Cube brand for additional income.

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