Hosting a Winter Olympics that are athlete-centred, sustainable and economical has been the foundation of the Beijing 2022 bid, and the post-Games legacies of four iconic venues from Beijing 2008 - National Stadium (also known as Bird’s Nest), National Aquatics Center (also known as Water Cube), Wukesong MasterCard Center and the China National Convention Center (CNCC) - are all prime examples of how these concepts have already been in motion even before the inception of the Beijing 2022 bid. Over the past seven years, these four venues have grown and developed into the “go-to” multi-purpose arenas for Beijing’s biggest events, fulfilling the principles outlined in the IOC’s Agenda 2020 and setting a new standard of sustainability for the future of the Olympic movement.
The common thread between the post-2008 legacies for these four venues is thus: First, in line with both the Olympic Agenda 2020 and Beijing 2022’s key concept of sustainability, these venues have found consistent use due to a number of strategic and long-term partnerships. Second, hosting a wide and diverse array of global events both athletic and non-athletic have bestowed upon these venues a vast pool of relevant expertise and experienced management that could be easily put to good use for Beijing 2022. Third, these venues have responded Beijing and China’s growing interest in winter sports by hosting an increasing number of winter-sports related events.
MasterCard Center (formerly Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center)
General Manager Jerry Han of Wukesong MasterCard Center - which hosted all basketball events in 2008 - spoke of the “landmark” five-year contract signed by venue owners Bloomage International Investment Group and MasterCard. Wukesong MasterCard Center recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary on March 30th, 2015, and it looked back on its history of being the first 2008 Olympic venue to be rebranded commercially, with successful partnerships with the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA), who assisted in hosting consistent NBA Global Games events. “With supporting consultancy of [leading sport and entertainment presenter] AEG and the NBA, we have managed to turn this venue into one of the leading multi-function arenas in China for concerts, basketball, ice sports, conferences, and launch events with a capacity of 18,000,” Han said. Wukesong MasterCard Center hosted more than 70 large-scale events in 2013, including concerts by top international acts including Beyoncé and Elton John. China Basketball Association (CBA) recent champions the Beijing Ducks, led by former NBA star Stephon Marbury, also announced last month that they will be calling Wukesong MasterCard Center their home for the next CBA season.
Last December, the venue opened its “Wukesong Ice World,” the largest ice rink in Asia, with 15,000 total square meters of ice anchored by a panoramic 18,000 square meter ice rink. On opening day of December 11th, 2014, the main ice rink’s capacity of 900 skaters was met within a couple of hours. The venue is also a repeat host of the Artistry on Ice figure skating show, set to host the Beijing stop for the fifth annual show this July.
Were Beijing to be picked as the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Host City this July, the Wukesong MasterCard Center would be the host of all women’s ice hockey events.
China National Convention Center
Back in 2008, the China National Convention Center (CNCC) was the host of the International Broadcast Center (IBC) and Main Press Center (MPC) of the Summer Games - in addition to hosting all fencing and bowling events. The CNCC became the very first Beijing 2008 venue put to post-Games use, occurring November 2009, hosting an average of over 800 conferences per year. “Where the world’s top fencers and bowlers once competed in the Olympic Games, there are now conventions with thousands in attendance,” CNCC General Manager Liu Haiying said. “Where the IBC once stood, there are now expositions on both national and international scales.” The venue generated profit as early as 2010, paying off its entire budget for the 2008 Olympics along with interest.
Reservation space at Mr. Liu’s venue is high in demand: The space enjoys an 86% rental rate per year, and convention spaces are booked for the next five years, approaching the potential dates of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Mr. Liu and his current staff of 1300 - of which nearly a fifth worked at the IBC/MPC for Beijing 2008 -has over the years been exporting its knowledge to a number of projects all over China, including Huairou county in Beijing, Zhuhai, Nanchang, and Hangzhou - where they are currently helping to prepare the city host next year’s G20 summit. “These [projects and staff] are all Olympic legacies and beneficiaries of lessons learned in 2008,” Mr. Liu said.
Were Beijing to be picked as the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Host City this July, the CNCC would resume its role as host of the Main Media Center.
2008 helped transform Beijing into the global metropolis it is today and a crucial element is building a pool of management experience is hosting massive events both athletic and non-athletic. There are no better concrete symbols of this legacy - and the values of Agenda 2020 - than the city’s iconic venues like the Bird’s Nest, Water Cube, Wukesong Master Card Center, and CNCC have blossomed from one-time Olympics hosts to integral Beijing landmarks, where one can see both Chinese rock star Wang Feng and NBA superstar LeBron James, from the Beijing Ducks to the Chinese Men’s Aerial Freestyle Skiing Team, or perhaps just enjoy a Sunday afternoon with family and friends sliding down water slides and floating down the lazy river. With the rise of winter sports fever in China, hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympics would undoubtedly cement these venues’ futures as the hosts of tomorrow’s biggest global winter sports events.
This is the second part of the two-fold series, presented by the Beijing 2022 Bid Committee with the objective to provide a detailed look on Post-Games legacies for Beijing 2008 venues and the way Beijing 2022 plans to take these legacies to a whole new level.