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SBD Global/August 10, 2012/Facilities

Olympic Park, Horse Guards Parade Draw High Praise From Media

London's Horse Guards Parade has been one of the Olympics most popular venues.
The Olympic Park, designed by British architect Kevin Owens, "is the greatest triumph" of the London Games, according to Philip Hersh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Never has a mix of "functional space, greenery and eight sports venues, from the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium to the 6,000-seat velodrome, been carried out so effectively." The eight sponsor pavilions spread around the park "seem an inviting addition rather than an intrusion, none more so than the whimsical mirrored face of the BP building." Owings said, "We know this park will go through quiet periods. We needed to create a space that still feels vibrant when there are only 50 people in it." Hersh writes it can be "easy to get carried away about how brilliantly that goal seems to have been achieved. The test begins next year, when venues will be used intermittently for large events and the park begins to serve its primary purpose as a recreational and residential space for a once blighted area of East London" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/9). In a special to the FINANCIAL TIMES, former IOC Marketing & Broadcast Rights Dir Michael Payne wrote, "One of the biggest successes of London 2012 has been the fantastic atmosphere." Perhaps it "should not be surprising that the beach volleyball on Horse Guards is lively and noisy." But other venues "from the rowing at Eton Dorney to tennis at Wimbledon have been equally loud." More than "any past hosts, London has focused on maximising the spectator experience." Each venue "has its own producer with the freedom to have fun while respecting the sport" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/9). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ann Killion wrote the beach volleyball venue at Horse Guards Parade "is the most spectacular of the Olympics." It has "been the party venue, with beer lines snaking around the outside of the stadium" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/8).

LIKE SAND THROUGH THE HOUR GLASS: In London, Jerome Taylor noted sand from the beach volleyball venue "will be used to build 36 new courts" in and around the greater London area over the coming months "as part of an attempt to build a lasting legacy that will propel Britain towards the next Olympics in Rio." British Olympic officials said that funding "is needed to make sure that the country's newfound love for the sport ... is capitalised on in the aftermath of the Games." The new courts "are being built primarily within the London area under a deal agreed with LOCOG" (INDEPENDENT, 8/9).

HER NAME IS RIO: In London, Paul Newman noted organizers for the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games "have brought 152 observers who are aiming to look and learn from London's example." There are also 51 government officials "studying issues like security." Nearly half the venues to be used in Rio "are existing facilities, while another quarter will be temporary structures." The remaining venues will be new. Construction work in the Olympic Park, "which does not include the main Joao Havelange and Maracana Stadiums, began last month, while builders will move into the last of the four main Olympic clusters at Deodoro next year." The official line on preparations for '16 is that "everything is in good order." However, others "are not so sure." A Brazilian journalist said, “Only the authorities say they are all set for 2016. The people know that we have much to do both in terms of our athletes’ preparations and building facilities" (INDEPENDENT, 8/9).
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