When London won the bid to host Olympics seven years ago, the city promised that the Games would leave a legacy of the revitalization of historically underdeveloped East London as well as new sporting facilities. This promised legacy was an important part of the city’s bid.
“Legacy is important for many reasons, one of which is economic,” said Simon Wright, the Olympic Delivery Authority’s head of infrastructure and utilities, told CNBC.com. “If you are spending a lot of money on regenerating part of East London, we want to get a lot out of that investment. We are hoping this would be a fantastic Olympic game and recreation facilities for the long-term.”
In December 2010, the British government created four legacy themes which aim to increase school-based and grass-roots sports participation, economic growth, promote community engagement and ensure that the Olympic Park can be developed as one of the main drivers of regeneration in East London.
Wright said Stratford suffers from lack of investment in new development over a large period of time. As industry declined, there was not much to take its place and it has suffered from under-investment since.
“This is the opportunity to kick start to provide new housing, recreation and jobs in the long term,” he said.
The ODA is responsible for building permanent venues including the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Center.
“When we started in 2006, we were the only organization in the design and development of Olympic Park,” Wright said. “We were focused on the buildings’ needs on legacy and the need to support that from the beginning.”
The ODA is working with the London Legacy Development Corporation to plan the Olympics and long-term use for the facilities. The LLDC will gain responsibility for the facilities post-games.
“We work very closely to ensure the transfer is seamless and there is a rapid startup of transformation of the work need and the park opened so local residents can use the facilities and new housing can take place,” Wright said.
Other Olympic City Legacies
London is not the first Olympics host city to use the venues post-games in an effort to revitalize a struggling area. In modern time, the Olympics have been hosted in 22 cities leaving the city either transformed or worse. The Atlanta games in 1996 left a legacy that is still evident today.
“The city now has a sizable downtown resident population which it never had prior to the Olympics,” said Harvey Newman, professor of public management and policy at Georgia State University, told CNBC.com. “The legacy of the games in Atlanta took several forms. All of the major academic institutions in the city benefited from Olympic venue construction. The preparation for the games gave developers an incentive to build new apartments and to convert older buildings into lofts.”
The games also helped Atlanta’s recognition as an international city, Newman said.
“Prior to the games, Atlanta was not well known by people in other parts of the world,” he said. “Its reputation was enhanced by the television coverage of the games. This has led to increased international investment and tourism in the city.”