NEWS

The keys to using Olympic Games infrastructure

The key to successfully organizing major events like the Olympics is closely linked to the ability of the city and the country to capitalize on the images and impressions created during the Games and continue cultivating them when the event is over. Analysts believe the Greek government must not neglect this aspect because of concern over the economic burden left by the Games and the future of the venues. Five legacies In a recent report, Melinda McKay of the international real estate services and investment management firm Jones Lang Lasalle listed five legacies on which Athens could capitalize after the successful organization of the Olympic Games. McKay said long-term benefits depended on: «competitiveness of the business environment, which affects the ability to attract corporate buyers; quality of the tourism attractions, which determines the degree of long-term tourism benefits; ability to sell the Olympic experience to attract other major world events, which extends to the reuse of facilities and the leveraging of international experience; level of tourism infrastructure built for the Olympics, which has had major long-term implications; and the ongoing promotional campaign, which is critical in translating short-term interest into long-term benefits.» The market is in a hurry to take advantage of any benefits and believes that much will depend on decisions made soon. A full-scale study is needed as to how to make the most of Olympic installations, along with bold decisions about models of cooperation with the private sector. Pragmatists note that, despite large claims to the contrary, few of the venues have an obvious use in the near future. The interest of private buyers will focus on the Olympic Stadium, the buildings of the International Broadcasting Center and the Main Press Center, the Faliron venues, possibly those at Markopoulo, and the marinas. For example, quite a few are interested in the land at Faliron which until recently was home to the racing course, as it is seen to be suitable for a conference center. But what has attracted most interest is Hellenikon, where large-scale building is due to take place and a park is to be created. A different type of building plan is needed at Hellenikon, as there are rumors of plans to implement a building / open space ratio that will lead to dense development of four-story buildings. Some analysts believe that the Olympic Stadium would make an excellent exhibition center, as Athens lacks such venues and stands in need of one. And some installations that do not seem promising may still have a future, perhaps through collaboration with local government, if the latter is willing to answer for maintenance and use of the stadiums. However, any economic benefits in the post-Olympic period will not come from the installations. Plans for the stadiums are concerned only with reducing the annual cost of managing them, since most of them cannot be made profitable. Everyone is interested in the prospects from tourism, along the lines of Barcelona after the 1992 Olympic Games. How can Athens, which is already a considerable tourist destination (unlike Barcelona before 1992) remake itself in the eyes of foreign visitors and how can it get involved in conference tourism without the necessary infrastructure? What else could a service-based economy that has chronic problems in attracting capital aim for, apart from boosting tourism and foreign investment by means of the Olympic Games?