diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Olympic Stadium 2011

They rescued the Olympic 'wrap' yesterday.

Oh for heaven's sake, not the Olympics again!

That's the fabric cloak around the edge of the Olympic Stadium, a key part of the architect's original design, which was scrapped last year as part of the Government's Spending Review.

No really, you've moaned about the Olympics twice in the last week. Enough already.

The wrap would have cost £7m, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things, at least when building a 500-acre legacy site for £9bn. But it was sacrificed on the altar of "We Simply Can't Afford It", because it appeared to be an unnecessary optional extra and was therefore easily cancelled. Budgetary savings = quick PR win.

I think you'll find that £7m could keep most of London's threatened libraries open for some considerable time. A saving of £7m's not peanuts. But you choose to ignore that fact, don't you Mr Geezer, to pander to your own blinkered prejudices.

Now suddenly, three months later, the wrap's back. We've always needed a windbreak, apparently, and something had to screen the miles of electrical cables which would otherwise have been on full global view. What's changed Seb's mind? Private money.

For goodness sake, there's nothing wrong with private money per se. The world would collapse without the good intentions of dynamic capitalism.

Apparently there's been "significant interest" from the corporate sector, so a formal tender process has just been launched for wraparound sponsorship. I wonder which lucky company will get to imprint themselves on 900m of peak global advertising space. Imagine for example the Golden Arches projected around the stadium perimeter, disfiguring every aerial shot of the Olympic Park come 2012.

Never fear, because strict IOC rules forbid any branding whatsoever in venues at Games time. The wrap won't be littered with slogans, symbols or trademarks - it can't happen. But the successful sponsor's logo will be on display at the start and end of each day, while no events are taking place. Would that really be so terrible?

The big change here is that something which was going to be provided by the public sector will now be funded by the private sector instead. Previously it was taxpayers whose pockets were being emptied, but now the money's flowing the other way. And I'm not completely comfortable with that.

What, are you mad? There are companies lining up to throw their money at this wrap, and you'd prefer to take cash out of hard-earned government budgets instead? It's idiots like you who dragged this country's finances into a hole in the first place.

I happened to approve of the original plan, whereby the stadium wrap would be decorated with a purely sporting design. Instead we'll get something twisted by ulterior commercial motives, heavy with unspoken branding, which somehow cheapens the entire Olympic fortnight. In my eyes anyway.

You're on a real vendetta against PR, marketing and the private sector, aren't you? Live in the real world, sonny. The days of unquestioning state support are over.

There are, I'd say, three approximate groups of British citizen:
1) Those who think few things (if any) are best done by the state
2) Those who think several things are best done by the state
3) Those who don't really care either way

We're in a Number 1 phase at the moment. The government's busy changing the landscape to ensure that Number 1 is the default option in as many different areas of society as possible. The reborn Olympic wrap is simply another reflection of the way this country's going. It couldn't have been branded a year ago, whereas it couldn't avoid being branded today.

Me, I'm a Number 2. Best grit my teeth I think.


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