Rugby World Cup latest leg on Zaun's Olympic relay

Zaun Logo - Grey RGB 72dpiSports governing bodies are struggling increasingly to persuade cities to bid to host major sporting games, but London's Olympic model shows it can be made to work, argues Chris Plimley.

Deep scepticism among Boston's taxpayers that they would foot the bill for the 2024 Olympics doomed its bid to host the Games and left Los Angeles nervously stepping forward as the US Olympic Committee's proposed bid city as I write this piece in advance of the 15 September bid deadline.

The Winter Olympics has faced even more trouble in attracting bidders.  Beijing, a city with scant snowfall and a limited winter sports experience, was recently awarded the 2022 Games ahead of its only competition from Almaty, a city in a mountainous region of oil-rich Kazakhstan, after Oslo – the previous favorite – Stockholm and Krakow all withdrew their bids.

It's not just the Olympics.  Brazil faced a summer of riots and protests in the run-up to last year's World Cup as citizens wondered how so much money could be spent on a 'vanity project' while the country was in recession and millions faced abject poverty.

But, planned, managed and communicated well, a major sports championships with a multi-billion global audience can still reap dividends for a host city.  The key criterion is legacy – and London is a prime example.

'Legacy' and ongoing community benefit was probably the key factor on which London secured the Games back in 2005 in the face of fierce competition from favourite Paris.

London delivered that in spades, along with a boost to the economy and a genuine nationwide feelgood factor that arguably helped turn a faltering post-credit crunch recovery into sustained aconomic growth.

The regeneration of east London has been spectacular.  Though many argue about whether the 2012 Games sparked a long-term sustained greater participation in sports and improved fitness levels to combat the obesity epidemic.

The world-class sporting facilities are also part of the legacy, but perhaps less obvious are the ongoing contracts for British manufacturers and service providers.

Certainly, Zaun's Games legacy as the principal 2012 Olympics fencer keeps running and running.

We've just finished the latest two phases of our work at the Olympic Stadium as it prepared to reopen temporarily for the Rugby World Cup.

Balfour Beatty was appointed to transform the former Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into a year-round multi-use venue to deliver a lasting sporting, cultural and community legacy in east London.

The transformation included installing the largest roof if its kind in the world, a community track, innovative retractable seating, spectator and hospitality facilities and external landscaping.

The initial phase of works included a £150,000 contract for high security fencing to be installed by Zaun group company Binns Fencing in time for the 54,000-capacity stadium to reopen temporarily for five matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, culminating in the third place play-off on Friday 30 October.

It will then open permanently as the new home of West Ham United Football Club and a national competition centre for UK Athletics next year.

We launched striking new fencing to install at Eton Manor, now transformed into the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre Olympic, where the Unibet Euro Hoickey Championships have just finished.

But the London legacy is about much more than just sporting venues.  We also installed that Grata grating fence solution around the ArcelorMittal Orbit, one of the most striking new visitor attractions to grace the London skyline and attract thousands of tourists to the city.

Furthermore, we were involved in the transformation of the 275m-long Olympic media complex – the largest structure in the Olympic Park with a combined floor area of 1.6 million sq ft.

During the Games it served as a 24-hour media hub for 21,000 accredited broadcasters, photographers and print journalists – bringing the Games to an estimated five billion people worldwide.

But with the the removal of the catering village and gantry and addition of photovoltaic panels and cladding to the car park it is now reborn as iCITY – a digital hub comprising new tenants Loughborough University, data centre provider Infinity, Hackney Community College and BT Sport, who have broadcast 38 Barclays Premier League live games a season for the past three years.

We supplied galvanised steel HiSec mesh panels to Lakesmere to clad the facade of the 1200-space Olympic media complex car park, the only multi-storey on the Olympic Park.

This conversion of the Press and Broadcast Centre at Stratford was part of the £70m 'Clear, Connect and Complete' project awarded to BAM Nuttall by the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

We developed an innovative 'green' acoustic fencing panel for use for the first time on another Olympic legacy project – the Chobham Academy.

The Academy is on the former Athletes' Village site for London 2012 and reemployed the buildings that were the main base for organising and managing teams from the record 206 nations that took part.

We created DBS fencing system from recycled waste plastics that can deflect noise and soak up flying fragments and installed it at the purpose-built education and leisure campus which opened two years ago.

Academy architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Lend Lease Group, who were responsible for the design, development and construction of East Village, chose Zaun's DBS acoustic fencing to reduce the impact of noise from the Tube line that runs alongside the academy boundary.

The Chobham Academy has been dubbed 'the school with an Olympic playground', with swimming lessons taking place in the aquatics centre and sports days in the Olympic Stadium.

Britain's greatest ever gymnast Beth Tweddle opened the Beth Tweddle Academy there as part of a national rollout programme with fellow Olympian Steve Parry to get more children around the country to take up gymnastics.

It's clear that London's legacy has touched education, commerce, industry, culture, media, tourism, sport and a whole lot more.

My advice to other cities is to get more creative about the legacy they can inspire in their own nations – and get on the bidding bandwagon once again.

 

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