Mega Event Update: Beijing Bird’s Nest Stadium

Stop me if you have heard this one before…

Remember all those claims about the continuing benefits that flow from the lavish sports facilities constructed for mega sporting events for years after the actual event? As example #1, consider the National “Bird’s Nest” Stadium in Beijing, host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games. There were supposed to be a huge number of events there following the Beijing Games. The Wikipedia page even claims: “A shopping mall and a hotel are planned to be constructed to increase use of the stadium, which will host football events after the Olympics.”

Ever wonder if they actually materialize? According to a recent article in the Telegraph, the answer is clearly “no, they don’t.” According to the article:

Three months after the end of the games, new figures show the “Olympic Effect” has been short-lived and hotels are empty, industrial output has fallen and the streets are quiet.

But even the biggest single symbol of the modern rise of China, the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, stands forlorn, largely unused except for a shrinking number of tourists.

I am shocked, shocked I say! The stadium is reportedly too big for Beijing’s main soccer team. I guess they could not see that coming. According to a stadium employee quoted in the article “There was a primary school athletics contest here, and I’ve heard they want to arrange a concert for next year.” So there you have it. In August, Usain Bolt electrifies the world; in November, pee-wee football. That’s the economics of mega events in a nutshell.

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Author: Brad Humphreys

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