Oval Ovation: Former Olympics Venue Reopens to Public

One of the primary goals for organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., was to ensure the legacy of the Games' venues. To that end, a newly expanded, three-level, state-of-the-art fitness center recently opened inside the Richmond Olympic Oval - site of speed skating events and the official Olympic anti-doping lab. RichmondOval.jpgRichmondOval.jpgRichmondOval2.jpgRichmondOval2.jpg

"The warning we heard time and time again from the people who were involved in building and operating [previous] Olympic venues was, 'Don't make the same mistake we made,' which essentially was to build a venue for the Olympics and then worry about its legacy use afterward," Ted Townsend, senior manager of corporate communications for the city of Richmond, which owns and operates the Oval, told AB's Nicholas Brown in January. "There are too many examples of facilities that have become white elephants, if not outright mothballs, after the Games."

No mothballs here, as the 23,0000-square-foot facility has been completely renovated and is almost fully operational less than five months after the Games' closing ceremonies. Local patrons likely will be most familiar with the second floor of the renovated oval, which formerly housed the Olympic ice surface and now boasts six full-size hardwood gymnasium courts, a 200-meter running track and two soon-to-be-completed international-size hockey rinks. The facility also is home to B.C.'s only publicly accessible indoor paddling and rowing center.

Most of the facility is expected to be fully operational by mid-August, with the rinks scheduled to open by Labor Day.

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