Almost 18 months after thousands of athletes and spectators streamed into East London’s Stratford site, London’s Olympic legacy is opening up to the public. A wider area of the Queen Elizabeth park, along with several Olympic venues are set to re-open to the public by 5 April. 1,000 workers have helped to transform the site, altering the infrastructure of the park and planting 600 new trees. The transformation efforts have cost around £300million.
“Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has delivered an astonishing legacy and reopening the south part of the park will delight thousands of Londoners and visitors to our city. No other Olympic city has come close to London’s success in delivering a lasting legacy of sporting venues, jobs, homes and simply wonderful park lands” – London Mayor Boris Johnson
Herewith, your guide to the Olympic site’s grand re-opening:
Queen Elizabeth Park
The south section of the Queen Elizabeth Park is set to open on 5 March, along with Anish Kapoor’s Orbit– the UK’s tallest sculpture at 114.5m . The park offers visitors 25 public artworks as well as a range of cultural events in newly landscaped spaces in the park. Interactive trails exploring the 2012 Games, as well as the biodiversity offering of the park, will also be on offer.
Copper Box Arena
The Copper Box Arena is already open to the public, offering up gym facilities, activities in the sports hall, and a cafe. The Arena hosted the handball, modern pentathlon fencing and the Paralympic goalball in 2012, and remains on the most flexible venues, with retractable seating for 7,500 spectators. The London Lions basketball team will make their home at the venue, which will hosts events from premiership basketball, to netball matches, to music concerts.
Lee Valley VeloPark
Opening in March, the Lee Valley Velopark will become the first venue in the world where track cycling, road racing, BMX and mountain biking will all be offered under one roof. The 6,000 seat venue also boasts a new one-mile floodlit road cycle circuit. The venue also looks to support everyday promotion of cycling in the UK, with programmes for schools, clubs and community groups.
From 2016, London’s Olympic Stadium is set to become the new home of West Ham United FC, as well as a major live music venue. The venue will be open the year round, hosting tours, arts and cultural events, conferences and other sporting activities. Before the 2016 official opening date, the stadium is set to host matches during the 2015 Rugby World Cup , and in 2017, the IAAF World Athletics Championships are set to take place at the venue.
The Aquatics Centre
Opening on 1st March, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre is set to offer a range of watersports from water polo, to synchronised swimming to diving. With a total seating capacity of 2,500, the venue is also set to host a range of professional swimming events over the coming years.
In the run-up to the Olympic site’s re-opening, much can be made of the facilities and events on offer. However, it remains to be seen whether both the Park and the associated sports venues will integrate effortlessly into the new piece of city that London Legacy Development Corporation has created. Residents are still moving into the housing offerings around the site, and many are still wary of the promises around affordability and vibrancy of the new offerings. As the first Olympics to set out such a comprehensive legacy plan, London 2012 has attempted to set a benchmark for future mega-events. They’ve built it, now will the people come?
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