On the spot

Tony Houhlias

Executive Manager, Sports Development

Sydney Olympic Park

In 2000, at the Sydney Olympic Closing Ceremony, Juan Antonio Samaranch said that these were the best Olympic Games ever. What remains, 19 years later, in Sydney from this experience?

The Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games provided the impetus to create a ‘world leading precinct built on its Olympic legacy’.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games at Sydney Olympic Park garnered worldwide recognition as the ‘best Olympic Games ever’ and the Park has now developed into one of the world’s most successful legacy precincts, post Games.
In 1993, Sydney’s successful bid for the 2000 Olympics fast-tracked the urban renewal of the site, transforming a highly degraded location into a major community asset in one of the largest urban developments ever undertaken in Australia.
Today Sydney Olympic Park Authority’s management and development of the precinct delivers in excess of $1billion worth of economic activity annually. The Park hosts over 5,500 events each year. The Olympic Stadium (now ANZ Stadium) hosts 50 events annually. Qudos Bank Arena is counted as one of the most popular entertainment centres amongst venues such as London’s O2 Arena and New York’s Madison Square Garden. Giant’s Stadium, the former Olympic Baseball Stadium, is home to AFL’s Giant’s and the Sydney Thunder T20 Cricket team. The Park is home to 12 professional sports teams which drive and inspire a huge growth in sports participation amongst youth and the growing local community.

What did the Olympic Games bring to the city and its surroundings in terms of urban development?

Sydney’s status as a major event city was emphatically established by the Games, which has proven an important factor in the rejuvenation of the geographical heart of the city.
Sydney’s Games precinct provided the impetus for the creation a new region within Greater Sydney; the Olympic Peninsula, incorporating the suburb of Sydney Olympic Park, Newington (former Athlete’s Village) and surrounding suburbs. The Olympic Peninsula plays a vital role in catering for Sydney’s growth, as it is strategically located in the centre of Sydney.
Today a commitment to high standards of environmental performance and sustainability remains one of the greatest legacies of the Games, and a core driver of Sydney Olympic Park Authority.
Sydney Olympic Park Authority is committed to demonstrating world-leadership in sustainability and innovation in its management of Sydney Olympic Park.
The Sydney Olympic Park Master Plan 2030 sets out a commitment to achieve the highest possible rating of 6-Star Green Star Communities for the whole of the Sydney Olympic Park precinct. Sydney Olympic Park Authority is also working with Smart Cities Council to become the first Olympic precinct to gain Smart City accreditation.

The Olympic Stadium was the biggest Olympic Stadium ever built, how is it being used today?

Purpose built as the main Stadium for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Stadium Australia (commercial name ANZ Stadium) was the jewel in a major urban renewal project at what is now known as Sydney Olympic Park.
ANZ Stadium remains an enduring symbol of Sydney’s coming of age as a global city.  The 2000 Olympic Games were transformational for Sydney, and ANZ Stadium is the primary bearer of their legacy.
ANZ Stadium is Sydney’s premier sports and entertainment venue and has attracted world and Australian record attendances for rugby league, rugby union, AFL, football, music concerts and other family entertainment acts (eg: Monster Jam) since opening in 1999.
The Stadium has become part of Australia’s sporting folklore as the venue for unforgettable sporting moments such as Cathy Freeman’s dash that unified the nation, the John Aloisi penalty that ended the Socceroos’ 32-year World Cup hoodoo, the exhilaration and despair of the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, and a host of other magical moments such as South Sydney’s first NRL title win in 43 years, and countless classic State of Origin clashes.
The sporting public has enjoyed great event experiences in a world-class venue while clubs and sporting bodies have reaped significant commercial dividends.
Twenty years on, ANZ Stadium’s impressive form and innovative design continues to cut a unique image on the Sydney skyline. More than 28 million fans have passed through the turnstiles since the venue’s opening in March 1999. The Stadium hosts most of the city’s major events, including the marquee matches for major football codes, the National Rugby League, Football Federation Australia and Rugby Australia.

Today, the Olympic Park area is continuing its development and becoming a new city. Could you describe the main future developments of this area in terms of sports development, community growth, economic and transportation development?

Since hosting the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games Sydney Olympic Park has continued its evolution, and the precinct’s growth will be supercharged in the next decade by new transport projects including a light rail service connecting to surrounding suburbs, and a Metro rail line linking the Park to both Parramatta and the Sydney CBD in under 15 minutes.
Nineteen years on from the Games, Sydney Olympic Park Authority continues to collaborate with the sports sector at all levels, delivering community sports programs, attracting new sports teams and upgrading or developing new sports facilities.
The upcoming period will see a government investment of $810 million in the upgrade of the Olympic Stadium to position it as the preeminent rectangular stadium in the country.
A host of new sporting facilities have been created in the park since the Games, while others have been upgraded. This includes: Monster Skate Park, Monster BMX Track, Monster Mountain X; the upgrade of Giants Stadium (formerly the Olympic Baseball venue) from 19,000 seats to 24,000; the new GWS Giants Training and Administration Centre; the new Netball Central; the new NSW Rugby League Centre of Excellence; the upgrade roof project of the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre; and the new Cricket NSW Centre of Excellence facility about to be constructed.
In the last year Sydney Olympic Park saw more people playing sport than watching sport. While 2 million people attended major sporting events, 2.6 million people participated in sport, including approximately 1 million cyclist-visits to the Park’s 35km of shared cycleways. Olympism is burning strong in Sydney Olympic Park as the precinct has become an inspiration for youth and the general population to participate and enjoy this fantastic Olympic legacy.

With the 20th Anniversary of the Sydney Olympic Games coming up in 2020 as well as the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games approaching, what are your plans to celebrate Olympism?

Sydney Olympic Park Authority is working with its sports community to promote the whole of 2020 as the Anniversary of the 2000 Games. The planned celebration will feature the Park’s diverse events schedule and profile some of the key events in 2020. It will include the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP Cup), the T20 Women’s World Cup, the Australian Athletics Olympic Trials, and the largest event in the southern hemisphere – the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which attracts close to 1 million people each year and we like to refer to as the ‘agricultural Olympics’ to name a few. Stay tuned as we develop the anniversary program which will also feature the upcoming Tokyo Games and our Anniversary on 15 September, in collaboration with the AOC and its Olympics Unleashed Program. We look forward to welcoming you to Sydney Olympic Park and our 20th Anniversary in 2020. Stay tuned for more information on the final program of events at www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au

Behind the Scene of Sydney Olympic Park, Technical Insight Tours