Beijing venue in high demand as it stands the test of time
Volunteers clean the ice during a hockey match at the Wukesong Sports Center in Beijing. WU ZHUANG/XINHUA
Beijing resident Zhang Miao has numerous fond memories of visiting the city's Wukesong Sports Center."I went there for many concerts when I was in my 20s, and after having my daughter, I now visit the center to dine and shop," she said.
"The Winter Olympics are fast approaching, and as one of the venues for the Games, I believe the center will bring more excitement to the city and the public."
The Wukesong Sports Center was designed and built for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, hosting the men's and women's basketball events.
It staged the first round men's match between China and the USA, before hosting one of the greatest men's finals at the Olympics. This unforgettable clash of the titans between the USA and Spain saw the team starring LeBron James and Kobe Bryant clinch a 118-107 victory for the USA.
After the Games, the Olympic baseball field at the center was redeveloped into a basketball theme park with a shopping center and restaurants.
The area has become an important part of the Beijing 2008 legacy, providing locals with a recreational zone where they can enjoy cultural events and concerts, and the center is now ready to serve as the main indoor venue for ice hockey at the Winter Olympics next month.
A worker inspects the power supply at the center. ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY
Zhao Yan, president of Huaxi International Investment Group, which owns the center, said: "As a dual Olympic venue, it has always lived up to the spirit of the Games－faster, higher, stronger. The venue is the embodiment of youth, energy and passion.
"Before we invested in the center, we considered how it could continue to inspire people after the Games and become a symbol of the Olympic spirit and an emotional link for young people."
To attract young people, and meet their demands, the company focused on designing the Huaxi Live space, which includes the sports center, basketball theme park and an outdoor area with stores and an ice sports center.
Catering to increased interest in ice sports among local residents, the company established an indoor center for such activities.
Zhang said: "As a comprehensive venue, the sports center provides a wealth of cultural and entertainment content for the public. The stadium has hosted concerts featuring not only Chinese singers, but also international superstars such as Beyonce. Many bands perform different types of music there every night."
In the evenings, up to eight groups of musicians play at the center, with passersby stopping to listen to them.
In addition to music, Times Museum, which is part of Huaxi Live, is now open to the public. Hosting modern art exhibitions, it attracts crowds of young people.
"Other Olympic venues may be constructed for a single purpose, but we had a different goal right from the start," Zhao said. "Huaxi Live at Wukesong aims to provide a healthy and happy experience for young people."
She added that the venue had to be reusable, sustainable and capable of hosting different events.
In the future, Wukesong Sports Center will serve as an ice training venue and educational instruction base for teenagers, as well as a venue for ice hockey clubs.
Xu Haoying, 22, a student in Beijing, said: "I like spending weekends at Huaxi Live because there are areas for sports, dining, shopping, along with shows and exhibitions to visit. It has an artistic atmosphere, with a spacious feel. Transportation services are also very convenient, which is important in such a huge city."
Li Jiawen contributed to this story.
Source: China Daily