Brainstorming on OAKA’s future

Students at Indiana University present proposals for Olympic facilities in Athens

Brainstorming on OAKA’s future

The Olympic Athletic Center of Athens (OAKA), which houses Greece’s largest soccer pitch and other sports venues, has been placed under the microscope of graduate students from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in the United States. A total of 28 students divided into six teams spent eight weeks studying the sports complex in the northern suburb of Maroussi. Recently, the students presented six groundbreaking proposals on the future of the country’s grandest sports venue.

The stadium was inaugurated by President Konstantinos Karamanlis on September 9, 1982. In the 40 years that followed, the stadium had its glory days as well as disappointments. A campaign launched three years ago aspires to transform the historic sports venue into a modern sports, cultural and educational landmark that will at the same time be environmentally and financially sustainable. The studies of the US students are meant to contribute to this objective.

‘The presentations included an interactive tourist program in which visitors can relive the experience of the 2004 Olympic Games’

The Kelley School of Business’ ties to Greece go back 12 years. Tatiana Kolovou, a senior lecturer in business communications at the school, has over that time taken more than 300 undergraduate and MBA students to Greece as part of immersion courses about the Mediterranean country and its political, economic and legal system. Students wrap up their internships by proposing ideas and solutions to state agencies and private companies that wish to open up to international markets. OAKA was the focus of this year’s program as the visiting students sought to hammer out a blueprint to rebrand and redevelop the facilities.

“These people work for large firms and are now completing their MBAs. They showed a strong interest [in the project] and are now putting forward really groundbreaking ideas. The presentations included an interactive tourist program in which visitors can relive the experience of the 2004 Olympic Games with a visit to the Athens Olympic Museum and the Panathenaic Stadium [also known as the Kallimarmaro],” Kolovou says. After studying OAKA’s strategic planning, the students did research into how other countries used their Olympic legacy to increase their revenue, analyzed global trends in utilizing large venues, and studied the ways in which public venues develop ties with local society.

“OAKA has always been open to constructive synergies and we are excited about this joint action with the Kelley School of Business,” OAKA Director General Konstantinos Chaliorois said. “We rely on long-term planning to turn OAKA into an Olympic recreation park, for Greeks as well as visitors.”

The projects include ideas to reduce costs and increase revenue for the Olympic Swimming Pool, ways to attract sponsorships, the organization of conferences and cultural events which will generate profits for the organization, and innovative smartphone apps that will enable OAKA to capitalize on the heritage of the Games and Greece. Other ideas include synergies between sports and other agencies (federations, institutions etc).

The collaboration between Indiana University and OAKA will continue. Some of the forthcoming projects are to be developed with input from the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), as the two institutions have signed a memorandum of cooperation.

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