$60M stadium for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be repurposed after four uses

A view of the construction on South Korea's new Olympic stadium. USATSI

International events are amazing for the cities hosting them -- until they're over. Whether it's the Olympics or the World Cup, one of the greatest questions host cities must face is: What to do with stadiums afterward? In PyeongChang, they have an answer for the $60 million stadium that they're building for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics: Repurpose it entirely.

South Korea is trying to avoid a situation like 2016's Summer Games in Rio, where stadiums fell into disrepair after use. Maracana was a centerpiece of the Summer Olympics in Rio, but six months after its use, it was abandoned. The term for these abandoned stadiums in Brazil is "white elephant."

The most infamous example of these white elephant stadiums in Brazil is the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, which faced pushback during its construction. It was a $900 million stadium that journalist Eric Zambon of the Jornal de Brasília said did nothing to earn its tag. "By the time they were building it, everyone hated it," Zambon told Sports Illustrated in 2016. "It's the highest cost ever [in Brazil] to build a stadium. And for no reason. You see the stadium. It's a great venue, but you don't see where all the money has gone. People also hate it because we have so many problems in the city with hospitals and schools, and then we have a huge stadium that goes way beyond the level of the league that we have here."

South Korea will have no such dispute. The Olympic stadium will have four uses -- the opening and closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics -- before being completely renovated. The stadium will be changed to a 5,000-10,000 seat capacity, along with an exhibition center and a history museum for the 2018 Games, according to the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games.

France did something similar for the 1992 games in Albertsville, when the Olympic Stadium was built and subsequently torn down. It was the primary host venue for the games -- similar to how PyeongChang's stadium will be used.

PyeongChang has 13 different venues that will be hosting the Winter Games, including Gangneung Ice Arena; Gangneung Oval and Gangneung Hockey Centre. All of these complement Gangneung Gymnasium (repurposed to Gangneung Curling Centre for the games) to create Gangneung Olympic Park. The group is unsure about what it will do with the ice arena, which will serve as the primary venue for speedskating, after the Olympics conclude. The hockey arena was also built for the Olympics. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story referenced an AP report about the Olympic stadium's cost at $100M and stated that the stadium would be torn down. 

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