The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 13:06cat

Sochi Olympics Feature New Infrastructure and Stadiums

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The Sochi Olympic Park by the Black Sea The Sochi Olympic Park by the Black Sea

The 2014 Winter Olympics will begin on February 7th in Sochi, Russia.  The resort town of Sochi is located over 1,600 kilometers from Moscow along the Black Sea.  Sochi had very little infrastructure when the city’s bid to host the Olympics beat out Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2007.  In the seven years since Sochi won its Olympics bid, workers have erected 25,000 new hotel rooms, built 225 miles of road, drilled 22 new tunnels in the surrounding mountains, built four new stadiums and more.  These Olympics will be the most expensive in history with current cost estimates exceeding $50 billion.  In addition to the original $10 billion investment by the Russian government, the original financing plan called for non-budget sources to contribute $2.6 billion to tourist infrastructure, $500 million for Olympic venues, $270 million for transportation infrastructure, and $100 million for power infrastructure.  The actual cost to complete each of these items is much higher than the original estimates and many are claiming corruption plays a large role in the increased spending.

One of the first projects started in Sochi, and most expensive, was improving the city’s power grid.  The state-controlled power company RAO UES announced plans in 2007 to spend $3.6 billion to modernize four thermal power plants and hydroelectric plants.  These improvements increased the power supply to Sochi by 1129 MW.  In addition to the power grid updates, an 86.4-kilometer light rail system was built to connect Sochi and the Sochi International Airport.  There is one intermediate stop along the route, and the line opened on December 31, 2013.  The final plan is significantly scaled back from the original proposal for the system.  The first design was for a three-line light rail system that had 24 stops along the route.  This was scaled back due to financial and time constraints.  The estimated total cost of the Sochi Light Metro system is $759 million.

Fisht Olympic Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies.  Construction began on the 40,000-seat venue in 2009, and the original budget was roughly $350 million, but the final cost when the stadium was completed in 2013 was just over $600 million.  Populous, one of the leading sports architecture firms, and Buro Happold designed the stadium.  According to the architects, “Within the park, the main level of the stadium is raised on a landscaped mound, providing stunning views from within.”  The venue features a retractable roof and spectators will be able to see the Caucasas Mountains to the north and the Black Sea to the south.  Lead designer Damon Levelle calls the stadium the world’s largest theater.  The venue was supposed to be finished four months before the start of the game, but work stoppages and safety-driven changes to the design delayed its completion.  Instead, opening ceremony organizers will have less than a month to install equipment and rehearse for the opening ceremony.  The Fisht Olympic Stadium will also be used as one of the venues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  After the tournament, the stadium capacity will be reduced to 25,000 and will be used for local teams as well as the Russian National team.

Four other stadiums were built for the Sochi Olympics including the 12,000-seat Bolshoy Ice Dome used for hockey, the 12,000-seat Iceberg Skating Palace used for figure skating, the 8,000-seat Adler Arena used for speed skating, and the 7,000-seat Shayba Arena used for hockey.

Sources: SI.comMoscow

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