One of China’s greatest fears is that their recent international glory will fade into oblivion. With two major international events, the Olympics and the World Expo, within a year of a half of each other, billions upon billions of dollars have been sunk into new infrastructure and buildings for highly specific functions that lose their purpose after the events conclude. So how does a municipality deal with all that brilliant, new space?
Just like Olympic cities of the past, Beijing has been struggling to find a good use for the iconic Bird’s Nest. It’s been a difficult road: the private contractors who leased out the Olympic stadium, CITIC Investment Holdings, have given their 30 year contract back to the government after just twelve months, citing too many difficulties in scheduling successful programming. Because Beijing doesn’t have any local teams popular enough to fill the venue (or international sporting events to host), they’re resorted to an assorted hodgepodge of events, ranging from formula-one racing to opera. We find it somewhat sad that such costly and impressive architecture has to struggle just to draw crowds.
So what will happen to Shanghai’s World Expo grounds after the event ends? Well, big plans are already under way for the World Expo Shanghai Performance Center: starting in 2011, the venue will host NBA pre-season games. Even better, Mercedes-Benz has decided to sponsor the performance center, which will officially be renamed the “Mercedes-Benz Arena” after the Expo. It’s perfect: what better combination is there for the legacy of Shanghai’s Expo than basketball and luxury cars?
As for the rest of the year, we’re pretty curious what sort of escapades they’ll plan. If Yao Ming can resuscitate the Shanghai Sharks, maybe they can play there?
Photo from Shanghai Daily