Photos: London’s unusual basketball arena ready for Olympics

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

Beijing's famed Water Cube is now a massive water park opened to the public. Athens' beach volleyball complex was recently populated by gypsies. The Lake Placid athlete's village is a correctional facility.

During the Olympics, viewers across the world inevitably wonder, "What happens to these sparkling facilities once the Games leave town?" London won't have to worry about that question in regards to its 2012 basketball arena.

The structure, completed last week, is a temporary venue that will be torn down once the Games are complete. Organizers boast that it's one of the largest ever constructed at an Olympics. The 12,000-seat arena will be torn down following the Paralympic Games next summer and its materials will be used in other projects across Europe.

It may look like a bubble, like the one that collapsed over the Metrodome or ones that cover swimming pools and tennis courts in the winter, but the venue is actually made of 1,000 tons of steel framing surrounded by 20,000 square meters of stretchable PVC membrane. The seats at the stadium are painted orange and black to resemble a basketball. Much like the swimming facility in Beijing, the exterior of the building will be used as a canvas for light shows during the Games.

Men's preliminary basketball games will be held at the facility, in addition to the women's quarterfinals and all medal matches in handball. The rest of the men's basketball tournament will be held at the larger O2 Arena in London.


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