Architectural marvels, Olympic stadiums are teeming with life during the world’s premier sporting event, with each moving on differently when the games are over
The Olympic Games sees the participation of over 200 nations every year, making it the leading athletic competition in the world. During its conceptualization and formative years, the games were held in Olympia, Greece. These modern times, however, the Olympics are being staged in different countries, and have been split into two events: the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.
The popularity of the Olympics have reached such epic proportions that it’s no longer solely for the entertainment of sports fans; host countries have also seen high traffic of tourists wanting to visit their nations, and advertisers have taken advantage of the event to move their products. As a result, nations that hold the event have been encouraged to build multipurpose stadiums meant for use even after the games. On the other hand, upkeep costs often don’t justify keeping these facilities alive once the festivities are over.
There’s no denying, though, that each and every one of these arenas are architecturally majestic in their own right, and some have even managed to keep living on long after the last Olympic athlete has left its grounds.
1. Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece (1896)
The Panathenaic Stadium during an event in 2012. Photo via Shutterstock
The venue of the first Olympics of the modern era, the Panathenaic Stadium was reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium, and is the only stadium in the world built entirely of white marble. It is now used for concerts and sporting events, with its original seating of 80,000 having been reduced to 45,000. It was also the venue of the archery and marathon events of the 2004 games.
2. Velodrome de Vincennes, Paris, France (1900)
Velodrome de Vincennes as seen via Google Earth
Held as part of the World Fair, the 1900 Summer Olympics’ events were spread throughout Paris with no closing and opening ceremonies. The main stadium, the Velodrome de Vincennes, served as the venue for cricket, gymnastics, cycling, rugby, and soccer. The stadium, while now less spectacular, is still in use to today, particularly for the latter three of the aforementioned sports.
3. Francis Field, St. Louis, USA (1904)
Francis Field. Photo via Washington University of St. Louis
Apart from being the venue of the first Summer Olympics held in the United States, Francis Field is also significant for being the first venue that was built specifically for the games. It continues to stand today as the main stadium of the Washington University in St. Louis, where it is mostly used for track and field, cross country, American football, and soccer.
4. White City Stadium, London, England (1908)
White City Stadium during the 1908 Olympic Games. Photo via Fourth Olympiad 1908 London Official Report
Another venue built specifically for the games, the White City Stadium was the definition of a main stadium, as most of the events were held there. Built to seat 68,000 people, it even included a pool and diving platform in the infield, truly allowing for most competitions to be held in one venue. Unfortunately, the stadium was a casualty of development, having been torn down in 1985 to make way for BBC White City.
5. Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1928)
Aerial view of the Olympisch Stadion in Amsterdam. Photo via Shutterstock
Built for the 1928 games, the Olympisch Stadion garnered a medal of its own that year, winning gold in the now-defunct architecture competition of the Olympics. The stadium was listed for demolition in 1987, but was saved when it was declared a national monument. Now used mostly for football, athletics, and music events, the stadium is set to host the 2016 European Athletics Championships.
6. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, USA (1932 and 1984)
Outside the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. Photo via Shutterstock
The Memorial Coliseum is considered as the best example of repurposing an Olympic Stadium. Built for the 1932 games, it was also the main venue of the Olympics in 1984. Los Angeles pro sports teams like the the Rams, Raiders, and Dodgers have called this stadium home, as has the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). It is now the primary home of the University of Southern California (USC) football team.
7. Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany (1936)
The Olympic Stadium of Berlin. Photo via Shutterstock
The Olympic Stadium in Berlin is known as the venue for one of the most indelible political moments in history, as Adolf Hitler presided over the 1936 Olympic Games, which was dominated by African-Americans. The stadium is also one of the very few buildings to have survived the bombings of World War II. Renovated and repaired, it is now mostly utilized for both American football and soccer.
8. Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia (1956)
Aerial view of “The G” in 2013. Photo via Shutterstock
Ranked as the tenth largest stadium in the world, the Melbourne Cricket Ground serves as the current home of the Melbourne Cricket Club. A true architectural marvel, the stadium, known to locals as “the G” also holds the record for having the highest light towers of any sporting venue. The stadium was built 103 years before being an Olympic venue, and is in a state of almost constant renewal.
9. National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan (1964)
National Olympic Stadium during the 2014 Japan Rugby Cup Final. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Originally built in 1958, Tokyo’s National Olympic Stadium is currently in the midst of a $1 billion upgrade, a full-scale reconstruction intended to be completed in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics. After its initial salvo as an Olympic venue, the stadium has mostly been serving as the home and practice facility of Japan’s national soccer team.
10. Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada (1976)
Full view of “The Big O” in Montreal. Photo via Shutterstock
Rising costs and construction mismanagement forced “The Big O” to open unfinished for the 1976 games with additional problems causing it to be known more as “The Big Owe.” Later occupied by the Montreal Expos baseball team, the stadium became something of a white elephant when the baseball franchise left the city. Its remaining claim to fame is having the tallest inclined tower in the world.
11. Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia (1980)
Night view of Luzhniki Stadium. Photo via Shutterstock
Built in 1956 as the grand arena of Central Lenin Stadium, Luzhniki Stadium is the largest of its kind in Russia, with a capacity of 78,360 seats, all of which are covered. It is one of the few major European stadiums to use artificial turf with the pitch variant preferred because natural grass fields cannot withstand the harsh Russian winters. The stadium is to be the venue of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
12. Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Barcelona, Spain (1992)
Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in 2014. Photo via Shutterstock
Built in 1927, the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys was originally made to use as the venue for the 1929 International Exposition and as a bid for the 1936 Olympics. The stadium was subsequently renovated in 1989 in time to be the main stadium of the 1992 Summer Games, and has since served as a venue for different concerts, American football games, and soccer matches.
13. Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia (2000)
Full view of Stadium Australia in 2009. Photo via Shutterstock
With an original seating capacity of 110,000, Stadium Australia is currently the largest Olympic stadium to have ever been built. The multipurpose facility commercially known as ANZ Stadium remains as the only venue in the world designed to host five professional sports: rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules, football, and cricket.
14. Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece (2004)
Athens Olympic Stadium. Photo via Shutterstock
Athens’ Olympic stadium was originally built in 1982. It was then renovated and used in the 2004 Olympic Games. While the other facilities within Athens’ Olympic villages have not fared as well, the stadium continues to be a chosen venue for many major sporting and entertainment events, and serves as the home of one of the biggest sport clubs in Greece, AEK Athens.
15. Beijing National Stadium, Beijing, China (2008)
Outside of “The Bird’s Nest” in 2013. Photo via Shutterstock
Having spent $40 billion as preparation for the 2008 Summer Games, China built what many consider the most architecturally pleasing Olympic stadium ever made. Its design was born out of a study of Chinese ceramics, and the carefully designed steel beams that hide the supports for the retractable roof gave it the appearance of, and the nickname, “The Bird’s Nest.” Since the games, however, the stadium has had trouble attracting events, and basically sits empty. The admission fees charged to the stadium’s 20,000–30,000 daily visitors help pay for its maintenance.
16. The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, England (2012)
The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Photo via Shutterstock
Often simply called The Stadium, the London 2012 Games’ main venue is a bargain compared to its predecessor in Beijing (it cost “only” £486 million to build), and it continues to be used as a sporting venue for major events, such as matches during the 2015 Rugby World Cup and a tri-series Rugby League test match between England and New Zealand. The Stadium will also host both the 2017 IAAF World Championships in Athletics and the 2017 IPC Athletics Championships.
17. Centennial Olympic Stadium, Atlanta, USA (1996)
Centennial Olympic Stadium Atlanta. Photo via Shutterstock
Renamed Turner Field, the Centennial Olympic Stadium in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, is now a baseball park and was the home of the Atlanta Braves from 1997 to 2013. The former Olympic venue is now up for redevelopment. In late 2015, it was announced that Turner Field will be sold to Georgia State University and Atlanta-based property developer Carter.
18. Seoul Olympic Stadium, Seoul, South Korea (1988)
Seoul Olympic Stadium. Photo via Shutterstock
The main venue constructed for the 1988 Summer Games, the Seoul Olympic Stadium is now home to the newly formed professional football club Seoul E-Land FC. It is also a popular venue for concerts, and has hosted artists from Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga.
Main image: Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, venue of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo via Shutterstock
This article originally appeared in Lamudi Philippines