The flame has been extinguished and London‘s 2012 Olympics is over, but memories of the big event will live on as the custom built sporting arenas and public areas are refurbished and reopened to the public.
Olympic Park is set to reopen as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with the first stage, North Park, opening up in July 2013, and the area becoming East London’s biggest public park, equipped with event stages, children’s playgrounds and 35km of walkways and cycle routes.The remainder of the 560-acre (230-hectare) park, including hockey and tennis facilities, The South Plaza and stadium, the aquatic center and the Orbit, will be open by Easter of 2014.
The Copper Box where the handball was held, the gorgeous and environmentally-designed Velodrome and many of the green spaces with their waterways, bridges and fields of wildflowers, are also planned to be part of the July 2013 reopening. The Copper Box (or Multi-Use Arena) will become a 7,500 seat multipurpose arena and will host concerts and other events including basketball, wheelchair basketball, handball, volleyball, netball, judo, fencing, table tennis, badminton, gymnastics and taekwondo. There will also be a health and fitness gym, exercise studios and a café for the local community.
In August 2013, the first sporting event since the Olympics will take place in the park: the London Cycling Festival , a 100-mile route that starts at the park and follows some of the same roads through Surrey that the Olympians cycled.
Sustainability was a key word in this Olympics and the basketball arena, which was always intended to be temporary, will be packed up and rebuilt in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It may even make the trip to Rio for 2016.
So get ready for summer 2013, when the city’s newest urban park will take center stage once again and you’ll be able to watch concerts and sporting events inside the Copper Box, view London from the Orbit, and wander the idyllic walkways in the footsteps of the London 2012 athletes. From 2014 on, you will be able to swim in the pools where the medals were won. And even if you’re not feeling athletic, the new park will be a great place to picnic, birdwatch and sightsee.