Four Olympic stadiums with unexpected afterlives
Signing on to host the Olympics costs a lot. The 2012 and 2014 Olympics cost upwards of $16 billion. That was just to create the buildings needed for the games. And what happens to them after? They are often left empty. This costs the host city even more. The cities must take care of the buildings. Sometimes the buildings are left to decay into the landscape.
Berlin is a perfect example. It hosted the Olympics in 1936. Afterwards, the Olympic Village was left to crumble into the surrounding wilderness. A change is coming. Funding has been approved. The city wants to turn the former athlete residences into new apartments. This could breathe new life into the 135-acre site.
Sometimes the buildings are reused. These often operate as originally designed. That is they continue to host sporting events. Only sometimes do host cities get more creative. Here are four locations that had different ideas. The cities reused their Olympics structures for less sporty uses.
Most people entering the now remodeled 1980 Olympic Village in Lake Placid are in a lot of trouble. The complex no longer welcomes athletes. It houses prisoners. It is the Federal Correctional Institution. It is in Ray Brook. It’s not much of a surprise, though. This Olympic Village was built with a prison in mind. Why? The only way Lake Placid could get funding from the government for the Olympics was if they had a secondary purpose for any new buildings. Only the Federal Bureau of Prisons offered to be the second use for the Village complex. The facility first housed about 1,800 athletes. It now houses about 1,000 prisoners.
The 1932 Olympics were held in Los Angeles. Its Grand Olympic Auditorium hosted weightlifting. It hosted boxing. And it hosted wrestling matches. The building was first constructed in 1924.
After the Games, it continued to host boxing matches. It also held and wrestling matches. It was also used host to roller derbies and concerts. The building even served as a film set. It was used for parts of Rocky. The venue was well known around Hollywood. It hosted greats like Cassius Clay. It hosted Rage Against the Machine. It hosted Andre the Giant. And it hosted Little Richard. A documentary was made about the arena. It was called “18th & Grand.” The storied Los Angeles venue is now home to a Korean church. It is the Glory Church of Jesus Christ.
The National Aquatics Center has a more common name. It is known as the Water Cube. It was built for the 2008 Olympics. Those were in Beijing. It held synchronized swimming. It held diving. It held water polo. And it held other swimming events. It is where Michael Phelps earned his eight gold medals. It is where 24 other world records were set. The building was renovated. This was after the Olympics. Half of it is now Asia’s largest waterpark. It is called Happy Magic Water Cube. There are 13 waterslides. There is a lazy river. There is a wave pool. And there is a spa. The second floor of the building has an auditorium. It has 17,000 seats. There’s a theater. There are several restaurants. And there is a museum of Olympic history. The Olympics will be back in Beijing. This will be in 2022. The Cube is slated for use. It will host the curling tournaments.
The Summer Olympics never happened in 1940. They were scheduled for Tokyo. But they were canceled. This was due to the Second Sino-Japanese War. Then the games were rescheduled. They were moved to Helsinki. They were only canceled again. This time it was due to the outbreak of World War II. The Tennispalatsi had already been renovated for the Games. It is also known as the Tennis Palace. This was after the second plug was pulled. It was first built in 1937. The building was never meant to last. It was not meant to be a permanent structure. It first housed a car dealership. It was renovated in 1938. Four tennis courts were added. This happened as the city began opening various sports venues. They were all around town. The courts were never used for Olympic tennis. But the venue did host basketball. This was when the Games finally came to Helsinki. That was in 1952.
The city bought the building at auction. This was in 1957. They let it get run-down. This was until 1993. Now, the Tennispalatsi holds the Helsinki City Art Museum. It has a movie theater. And is has many restaurants.