The London Olympic Park is one of the most innovative venues for the 2012 Games, hosting major sports and upholding the “green” ideology London has promised for the event. Encompassing about one square mile of land in Stratford, East London, the park will create an environmentally friendly backdrop for the games while keeping a lively atmosphere. The southern part of the Olympic Park will offer plenty of facilities to spectators, including cafes, bars, and gift shops, while the northern area will provide green spaces for the public and a serene, natural ambience, in addition to habitats for rare species of plants. More than 2,000 trees and 300,000 wetland plants will be planted at the park, and this unique local ecology promises to be one of the most unique features of the games.
The 2012 Olympic Park will be transformed into an urban park after the games are over, restoring the local habitat and including more native flora. Its sporting facilities will be used for local sports clubs and university events, and further housing will be built alongside the parks Olympic Village, creating a total of 3,600 apartments. The London Olympic Park venues will be some of the city’s best, and the area is hosting numerous popular outdoor sports. In total, the park will have four main sporting arenas: the Hockey Centre, Basketball Arena, Handball Arena, and the London Velopark.
The Olympic Hockey Centre
This 2012 Olympic Park arena will host the Olympic field hockey competition as well as the five-a-side and seven-a-side soccer events during the Paralympics. With a seating capacity of 15,000, the Hockey Centre offers a pleasant ambience and plenty of good views of the games. After the Olympics, the arena will be transformed into a smaller sports facility with a minimum capacity of 5,000 and a maximum of 10,000, and the Hockey Centre will then be moved north to Eton Manor, Essex.
Touted as one of the largest indoor venues ever built for any Olympic Games, the London Olympic Park basketball arena will host a number of Olympics and Paralympics events such as rugby, wheelchair basketball, and handball, in addition to the main basketball events. The arena is located between the London Olympic Velodrome and the BMX Circuit, in the northern half of the Olympic Park. The Basketball Arena’s “back of the house space,” as the behind-the-scenes area is called, will be used for security, media, catering, and waste management throughout the games.
The 2012 Olympic Park Handball Arena is known for its distinctive, nearly 33,000-square-foot recycled external copper shell, and its interior will also be unique, including a number of retractable seats and vibrant, multicolored wall designs. This indoor facility will host competitions including the modern pentathlon and fencing, as well as the handball events. Located in the western part of the London Olympic Park, the Handball Arena also has a glazed concourse level, which circles the building and is intended to be a memorable aesthetic feature when illuminated at night. The 7,000-seat arena will be transformed into a multiuse sports center after the games, including a range of indoor events including martial arts, table tennis, and wheelchair rugby.
BMX and track cycling aficionados should look for tickets to the London Velopark for their favorite events. One of the permanent venues at the Games, the London Olympic Velodrome will have a permanent seating capacity of 6,000, with 3,500 seats located around the track and the other 2,500 in the upper two tiers. A glass wall between the upper and lower tiers will allow people to view the vents from outside the venue. The BMX circuit is built alongside the London Olympic Velodrome. After the games, the 24-acre Velopark will be transformed into a road cycling circuit and a new mountain bike course for sports clubs.
Image: London 2012