diamond geezer

 Saturday, February 20, 2010

London 2012  Olympic update
  North Greenwich Arena


Some press releases make me smile.
Planning permission has been granted for London 2012's plans to use the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich and North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Games.
That won't have made everyone smile. Lots of people, especially men with big guns, are very cross that the 2012 shooting gallery will be in Woolwich. They're cross because the Woolwich facilities will be fleeting and temporary, so these Olympic millions will leave no permanent sporting legacy. In particular there's already a perfectly good firing ground at Bisley, they argue, which could have been used ever so cheaply instead. But Surrey's not close enough to the Olympic Village, no can do. It's more important to be local than to save money, so we're told.

Meanwhile this planning permission confirms that various gymnastic events are indeed to be held at the North Greenwich Arena. But not the rhythmic gymnastics, nor the badminton, both of which were originally going to be held in a separate venue constructed nearby. Boris has persuaded all the necessary authorities that these two events should be held at Wembley Arena instead, because not building a temporary arena in Greenwich will save Londoners £5 each. Wembley may be a lot further away from the Olympic Village but that doesn't matter, not in this case. It's more important to save money than to be local, so we're told.
Sebastian Coe, Chairman of LOCOG, said: 'This is very good news and a vital step forward in our preparations for the Games. These venues are an important part of the cluster of sports being staged in Greenwich. North Greenwich Arena is without doubt an outstanding venue and will be a spectacular sporting stage in 2012.'
But Seb's announcement isn't why I'm smiling. I'm smiling because I know what the North Greenwich Arena currently is. A footnote at the bottom of the press release explains all.
The North Greenwich Arena is known to the public as the 02. At Games-time and for all Games-related matters, it will be referred to as the North Greenwich Arena. This is to accommodate the International Olympic Committee’s clean venues policy and LOCOG’s partnership agreement with BT.
Peninsula SquareIt used to be called the Millennium Dome, and then it got renamed after a publicity-seeking mobile phone company who'd paid millions for the rights. But not in 2012. For a few glorious weeks, when the eyes of a global TV audience are fixed upon London, all of the sponsored nameplates are going to have to come down. Pity poor 02, a company intimately associated with the most successful concert venue in Europe, who when the world comes knocking will be forced to fall silent. No, really, you don't know how much this makes me smile.

Because the name - North Greenwich Arena - it's utterly dreadful, isn't it? It's the sort of name a committee of faceless bureaucrats would think up, and probably did, with no memorable charisma whatsoever. It's the complete opposite of "02", which sounds like it was dreamt up by a couple of wacky PR folk during a brainstorming session in a Slough hotel one Monday afternoon, and who were then extremely surprised when big bosses snapped up the name and imprinted it on everything they produced. From 02 to North Greenwich Arena, this really is the ultimate marketing comedown.

And especially unfortunate because 02 was originally formed out of the demerger of BT's former mobile phone operations. Now it's BT in the hotseat as an official 2012 partner, so absolutely no mention of any same-sector competitor must pass Olympic lips. Oh how delicious. A company who relaunched the Dome in 2007 with "Trademark & Copyright Team" enforcement agents patrolling outside the main entrance are now to be silenced by the same petty blinkered rules they usually try to impress on others.

OK, so the 02's eclipse won't last very long, but enforced erasure will occur at the precise moment when potential publicity is at its maximum. In its place we'll get a less strident gymnastic venue, a temple not to profit but to athletic endeavour, with absolutely no mention of oxygen molecules on pain of litigation. And we'll get the most tedious venue name ever - the North Greenwich Arena, more a bland than a brand. Permit me a broad grin, just this once.


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