City officials announced Friday that the bidding will open for the construction of a brand new swimming arena, the Rio Olympics Aquatic Center, for the 2016 Summer Games.
The stadium will be completed in the shadow of the Maracana Soccer Stadium in a segment of the 1.18 million square meter Barra da Tijuca Olympic Park. The center will cost approximately $93 million dollars to build and will seat 18,000 people, overlooking two 50-meter courses.
One-upping seems to be the theme from Olympic venue to Olympic venue, as the new Rio Aquatic Center will seat 500 more spectators than the 2012 London Aquatics Centre which was 500 seats larger than its 2008 predecessor, the Beijing Water Cube. While the stadiums both remain in London and Beijing, the Rio structure will only be a temporary Rio presence to save money.
To quote directly from the statement released by the city:
"Rio de Janiero already has two aquatics centers, and the Maria Lenk and Junio Delamare facilities already have the capacity for national and international events. As there is no demand for another center in the city, the most cost-effective option was to build a temporary facility for swimming and water polo finals because over the lifetime of a permanent sporting venue, 80% of the costs are in maintenance."
Rio prides itself on making the constructions on a budget, also building a tennis center, a handball arena, and a Velodrome (indoor cycling track) in addition to the swimming center. They will have spent only a quarter of what the London games spent to build similar facilities (minus the tennis center which was hosted at the pre-existing Wimbledon courts). In regards to these projects, Rio will only spend $272 million USD compared to London's whopping $680 total.
The Aquatics Center will host synchronized swimming, diving, and the water polo finals in addition to the traditional swimming races. All the water polo and diving prelims will be held at the existing outdoor Maria Lenk Aquatic center which is being renovated as part of a separate project.
Construction is set to begin in the first six months of 2014 and should be completed by the first quarter of 2016 when the center will host its first test event in April. The company that wins the project bid will get $8 million dollars to operate the arena for 11 months through the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics before the arena will be taken down. The complex will be made up of detachable, modular steel structures than are reusable.
Some people are concerned that the new center is wasteful seeing as Rio already has two adequate venues. They're worried the only reason the new aquatic center is being built is to look shiny and new to please the IOC. What do you think? Is almost $100 million too much to spend on a temporary building?
I'm just glad the indoor swimmers will have clean water to swim in, while the open water swimmers might be dealing with Rio's water pollution. Yikes.
If you speak Portuguese or know how to use an internet translator, you can find the entire statement from the Rio city officials on the aquatic center bid here.