The Empty Nest

So the Olympics and Paralympics are now over and the amazingly beautiful (and expensive) Bird's Nest, known officially as the Naitonal Stadium, sits empty. It is sure to be a major tourist attraction during the upcoming National Day holiday and will certainly be visited by Chinese and foreigners for years to come. Even after the Paralympics, tourist buses were pulling up to the perimeter and letting people off to get photos of the over $420 million entrancing architecture.

That's all well and good, but what about inside the stadium? The talk was originally that Beijing's Chinese Super League team, Beijing Guoan could use the stadium after the Games. Guoan, which has used Worker's Stadium (Gongti) since its inception in the 90s, was moved to Fengtai Stadium last year as minor renovations prevented them from using Gongti. The thing is, even at the height of their popularity, Guoan never sold out Gongti and in recent years is lucky to get over 20,000 per game. This was bad enough in Gongti, which holds 70,000, but would look a lot worse in the Bird's Nest, which can hold an additional 20,000.

Therefore, despite all the talk that Guoan would move into the Bird's Nest after the Olympics, it should come as no surprise when it was announced today that it is unlikely that the move will take place. It appears that for any event to come close to making money at the Bird's Nest, it needs to have an attendance of over 30,000. Anything under that and it's unlikely that the Bird's Nest will be considered as a venue. Also, there is still the (stupid) feeling that the Bird's Nest should only be used for large and unique sporting and cultural events.

While tickets will be sold to the Olympic Green during National Day and expectations are for over 80,000 visitors per day to get up close to the Nest, they won't be going inside. The Bird's Nest should not sit empty waiting to host another "large" event, hopefully it won't become an albatross along the lines of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

No comments: