ECONOMY

Bill on utilization of Olympic installations coming soon

Planning for the Athens 2004 Olympics largely lacked ideas about the use of the dozens of sports and media venues after the event, but now the government hopes to make the city a major pole of attraction for visitors and investors, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia, who was the government’s top Olympics official, said yesterday. «We did not have a reliable post-Olympics plan in Greece. Many venues were designed without their post-Olympics use in mind,» Palli-Petralia told a special event of the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on the subject. Palli-Petralia, whose New Democracy party came to power five months before the Games, said a bill outlining the specific role of each facility will be brought to Parliament in the coming days. «The bill was drafted with full respect to existing town-planning guidelines and with the utmost transparency for private investors… This will allow procedures for the long-term contract competitions to start,» she said. «We are starting from scratch and the government is extending its hand to private enterprise so that the post-Olympics use of facilities will be beneficial for the country, entrepreneurship and the people.» Palli-Petralia made it clear that the installations will remain public property and their utilization will be done with developmental rather than strictly fiscal criteria in mind. The master plan aims at upgrading Greece’s image abroad, turning Attica into an attractive, year-round destination, attracting foreign investment and know-how, creating new jobs, substantially boosting quality of life for Athenians, and offering visitors more qualitative options for sports, cultural and entertainment activities. Plans include turning the canoe-kayak course at the Hellenikon sports complex into a water park, the rowing course into an environmental zone and the Aghios Cosmas sailing center into a big marina. Palli-Petralia revealed that both domestic and foreign groups have expressed interest in tapping the installations for commercial purposes. Overruns Separately, Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas charged that the previous PASOK government’s makeshift mentality and the lack of any plan for the post-Games use of facilities had swollen the cost of Olympic preparations. «For instance, the cost of upgrading the Olympic Stadium in the Athens candidacy file was budgeted at just under 9 million euros but ultimately 400 million was spent,» he said. The budgeted cost of the roof of the Olympic Stadium, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was 170.8 million euros but it eventually approached 261 million. According to data released by the Finance Ministry a few months ago, the cost of the Games, which were budgeted at 4.6 billion euros by the previous government, in the end exceeded 7 billion. To this one may add about 2 billion spent on a series of transport projects, such as the tramline and extensions to the metro, especially designed to serve Olympic venues.