With all of the talk centered right now on the Super Bowl, sneaking up on the sports world is the fact that the Winter Olympics in Sochi is less than a week away (and really, how many stories can lazy journalists write on Richard Sherman, 100? 1000?). Attention will turn to Russia once we get past Sunday, but in the meantime, I’ve been looking into the venues that are going to be used at this year’s games. What is most fascinating to me is the creation of a whole section of stadiums that will be the focal point of the ice events. This is known as the Coastal Cluster and it is about 35 minutes away from downtown Sochi, located along the Black Sea near Adler. Amazingly (and I believe a first), all of these venues are brand new and they are within walking distance of each other as they form a sort of circle with a Medal Plaza in the middle. Quite an interesting and expensive take, but one that looks to be very convenient for spectators.
The largest of these venues is Fisht Stadium. Used for the opening and closing ceremonies, this new stadium will see its biggest sporting action in 2018, when Russia hosts the World Cup. Populous designed the facility and its biggest feature is the connection between the mountains and the sea as open ends allow for views of both. The next biggest venue is the site of ice hockey as the Bolshoy Ice Dome will seat 12,000 and likely be the venue I see the most as the Olympic Hockey Tournament is an amazing event. I’ve yet to really get a glimpse of any completed images inside, but on the outside, it is a spectacle of lights as the aluminum roof lights up with thousands of LED soft colors during the night-time.
Another interesting concept is the “Pop-up Stadium”, which is not entirely new, but will take place after these games. Shayba Arena (ice hockey), will be one of these venues that is built for the Olympics and then gone afterwards. But instead of sitting vacant or being demolished, it will be dismantled and ‘moved’ to another city. This will also be the fate of the 3,000 seat Ice Cube Curling Center. The last remaining arenas (Adler Arena and Iceberg Skating Palace) will only be used for figure skating and speed skating. Of these two, the Palace has left the biggest impression as the stunning visuals on the outside have been widely liked and I’m sure it will come across as strikingly beautiful on TV.
Unlike four years ago in Vancouver, the spectator venues for these games are pretty much brand new and it gives stadium fans a lot to look at and admire in the newest technology of stadium design.