Gov’t and private agencies mull future of Olympic venues

The annual cost of maintenance of Olympic facilities will be anything between 25 and 50 million euros, according to estimates by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) presented yesterday. The maintenance cost of the Athens Olympic Complex itself (OAKA) and of the Peace and Friendship Stadium near Piraeus – venue for the volleyball events – is estimated to be anything up to 20 million and 6 million euros respectively. The presentation followed a meeting of EBEA’s board on the utilization of the facilities, also attended by representatives of the technical and economic professional chambers, and from the Athens Bar Association. «The utilization of the big sports installation projects could present significant investment opportunities,» said EBEA President Drakoulis Fountoukakos, who added that relevant proposals will be sent to all public agencies concerned. EBEA Vice President Yiannis Granitsas said that collaboration between the private sector, local government organizations and sports clubs is a must. He went further, saying that some venues may have to be turned over exclusively to private enterprise, on condition of a comprehensive legal framework. «The utilization of the particular venues must be fully fledged, long-term and viable,» he said. Offering examples of the possible post-Olympics use of certain facilities, Granitsas said the beach volleyball venue in Faliron can host sports as well as cultural events, while for the equestrian center in Markopoulo there is a plan for building a hotel or a shopping mall. The rowing center at Schinias may be used as an international training facility, while the sailing venue at Aghios Cosmas could be converted into a marina. Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) President Ioannis Alavanos said the utilization of the Olympic installations is a complex and particularly difficult affair, and must not focus solely on covering maintenance costs but on their broader developmental potential. Finally, representatives of the economic chamber argued it is necessary to divide projects into those that are immediately able to be utilized and those whose potential will become clearer over time. Gov’t meeting Separately yesterday, at a ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, it was decided that in order to prevent damage and looting until their future use is determined, the various Olympic venues will be assigned for safekeeping to the police. The mobile equipment in the venues has already been registered and the general idea is for it to be distributed for social purposes and for use by public agencies. As regards the 14 venues that belong to Olympic Properties, the public company set up especially to manage them (they will soon become 16 with the addition of the Main Press Center and the sailing center at Aghios Cosmas), the government appears to favor permanent – rather than piecemeal – solutions that will improve their viability prospects.

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