The organisers of the London 2012 Olympics marked Monday’s 200-day countdown to the start of the Games by confirming legacy plans for three of the event’s key competition venues.
Construction giant Balfour Beatty PLC has secured the contract to run the Olympic Park, which includes the 115-metre high AccelorMittal Orbit feature, following the Games in a 10-year deal worth a reported £50 million. Meanwhile the Aquatics Centre and multi-use Handball Arena will be operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). The new contracts are expected to create at least 254 jobs on the Park, which will host showcase events such as athletics, track cycling and swimming when the Games commence on July 27.
By combining two venues in one contract, the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has ensured that the Aquatics Centre will not require any additional public subsidy as the Arena will cross subsidise it. Further revenue will be generated from naming rights for both venues, which will be on offer at a later date. The agreements mean that only anchor tenants remain to be found for the Olympic Stadium and Press and Broadcast Centre, with organisers claiming their progress puts them ahead of any other Olympic host city at a comparative stage.
“GLL and Balfour Beatty WorkPlace will play a key part in the creating a Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that is a thriving visitor destination with world-class sporting venues that are both affordable and accessible to the public,” said Baroness Margaret Ford, chair of the OPLC. “Today’s appointments are just another example of how London’s legacy plans are further ahead than any previous host Olympic City. By working closely with sporting bodies and our local communities now, we can ensure that these venues will have a full and compelling programme of activities for when they reopen after the Games.”
As part of the 200-day countdown, London 2012 also released details of new Games-time naming for selected venues and spectator areas in the Olympic Park. The Hockey Centre will now be known as the Riverbank Arena reflecting the venue’s location next to the River Lea in the Olympic Park. Meanwhile, the Handball Arena will be renamed as the Copper Box with a view to the venue’s boxed-shape and distinct copper cladding.
Monday also saw UK Prime Minister David Cameron hold his first cabinet meeting of the New Year at the Olympic Park, instead of at Downing Street. The British government will stage a number of business summits during the Games which it hopes will raise an additional £1 billion of revenue for British companies. “I want the message to go out loud and clear, from tourism to business, sport to investment, we are determined to maximise the benefits of 2012 for the whole country,” said Cameron. “Today, as we mark 200 days to go, and six out of the eight Olympic venues having already secured their future, we are well on track to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain.”
By Matt Cutler