The largest sporting event on the planet is right around the corner, and London stands ready to welcome over 10,000 athletes competing in 26 sports and the millions of spectators that will cheer them on. The final installment of the 2012 Olympic Venue Preview is devoted to those venues outside the city limits that will be very much a part of London throughout the Games.
Cycling – Road
Located approximately 20 miles southwest of London, Box Hill is a summit of the North Downs in Surrey. Box Hill is named for the box tree, and supports various animal, insect, and plant populations; as a result, viewing areas within the venue were selected in cooperation with Natural Trust and Natural England to minimize the environmental impact.
Box Hill will be used in the Olympic Road Cycling Road Race; with the men completing nine laps and women two laps of the Box Hill circuit. Spectators will be able to view the race from areas along Zig Zag Road and Donkey Green (a large flat area atop Zig Zag Road). While temporary overlay and facilities have been installed to manage the viewing area, no grandstands or seating will be installed.
City of Coventry Stadium
One of six venues hosting soccer during the games, City of Coventry Stadium is home to Coventry City F.C. The venue was built in 2005, and officially opened two years later. In 2009, City of Coventry Stadium won the bid to be the only Midlands venue to host soccer in the 2012 Olympics. No construction was required for the Games.
Canoe – Sprint, Rowing
Eton Dorney Rowing Center at Dorney Lake hosts a wide variety of rowing events, from community to elite-level competitions. Located in a 400-acre park within a nature conservation area approximately 25 miles west of London, the venue boasts a 2,200-m eight-lane rowing course, warm-up lanes, and completion facilities.
For the 2012 Olympics, an additional cut-through was created at the 1,400m mark to allow competitors to get from the return lane to the competition course (previously, the only cut-through was at the 600-m mark). Two bridges have also been installed, with one spanning the new cut-through and the other replacing the existing finish-line bridge with a wider one. Improvements were completed in spring 2010.
Cycling – Mountain Bike
Hadleigh Farm is a 550-acre site located in the Essex countryside that includes the surrounding countryside of Hadleigh Castle Country Park. The venue will host the mountain bike course, featuring gradients measuring 230 feet from top to bottom.
Construction of the 5-km course, which included 500 tons of rock and 3,500 tons of crushed stone, was completed in less than a year. While mountain bike events are typically held in forested areas, the Hadleigh Farm course takes competitors over an open hillside. Snake Hill, The Rock Garden, and Deane’s Drop are among several unique course features.
Hampden Park, one of the six venues hosting soccer at the 2012 Olympics, is Scotland’s national stadium and holds every major European record for crowd attendance. The stadium will host eight Olympic soccer matches: five women’s and three men’s.
After celebrating its centennial in 2003, Hampden Park recently underwent a $108-million renovation. The stadium is rated as a five-star venue by UEFA. Following the 2012 Olympics, Hampden Park will be transformed into a track-and-field facility for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Canoe – Slalom
Located 20 miles north of Olympic Park, the Lee Valley White Water Centre sits on the edge of the 1,000-acre River Lee Country Park. The venue comprises two separate courses, each built from scratch: a 300-meter Olympic-standard course with an 18-ft. descent and a 160-meter intermediate/training course with a 5.25-ft. descent.
In addition to the two courses, a 100,000 square-foot lake was also constructed, which feeds a system of pumps that provide the course with 530 cubic feet of water per second and creates the white water. Construction began in July 2009 and was completed in December 2010; the Lee Valley White Water Centre is the only new Olympic venue the public could use before the Games.
Home to the Welsh rugby team, the Millennium Stadium is Wales’ national stadium, located on the banks of the River Taff in Cardiff. The 74,500-seat Millennium Stadium will host the very first event of the 2012 London Olympic Games, as women’s soccer begins two days before the Opening Ceremony.
Built on the site of the old national stadium, the new venue was constructed between 1997 and 1997, requiring 56,000 tons of concrete and steel. The Millennium Stadium boasts the first fully retractable roof in the United Kingdom.
Old Trafford Stadium
Old Trafford Stadium, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ by legendary Manchester United midfielder Bobby Charlton, will be the third largest soccer venue in the Olympics. The venue has been home to Manchester United since 1910 (with a brief relocation necessitated by extensive damage caused in World War II).
Recently, the stadium was expanded to 76,000, and is now the second-largest soccer venue in the United Kingdom.
St. James Park
Located in northeast England, St. James Park was built in the 19th century and has been holding soccer matches as early as 1880. St. James Park has hosted Newcastle United since 1892, and is among the largest soccer venues in the United Kingdom.
St. James Park has undergone various major redevelopment and modernization projects in its 130+ year history. In 1992, more than $100 million was spent to transform the venue into a world-class stadium; in 2000, the venue’s capacity was increased to more than 52,000. One of the six venues hosting soccer, little preparation is needed to ready St. James’ Park for its six Olympic matches.
Weymouth and Portland
The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy is found in Dorset, on the southern coast of England. To ensure the facility was ready for Olympic competition, several enhancements were made to the world-class facilities, including a new permanent 250-m slipway for launching and landing boats, 70 new moorings, and a new commercial 560-berth marina. Of the 560 berths, 250 will be used during the Games. A ticketed spectator area is called The Nothe.
The venue was the first to be completed, more than three years before the 2012 Olympics, and will exist after the Games as a state-of-the-art facility for elite training, competition, and community use.
All images from the Official London 2012 Website.