The city of Rio de Janeiro on Friday announced a period of open bidding on the Aquatics Center that will be built for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The center, which will be built in the Barra da Tijuca Olympic Park, is estimated at a cost of R$218 million (approximate $93 million USD). It will include a primary temporary facility with seating for 18,000 people and two 50-meter courses. The structures of the pool will be detachable, reusable, modular steel structures that will host swimming for the Olympics and Paralympics as well the water polo finals.
18,000 seats is slightly larger than the pre-Olympics 17,500 of the London Aquatics Centre, which in turn was slightly bigger than the pre-Olympics 17,000 of the Beijing Water Cube. Both of those prior centers are still standing, albeit in different forms after the Games.
Diving and water polo will be held at the existing outdoor Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, which is currently being renovated ahead of the Olympic Games in a separate project.
The city explained its reasoning behind a temporary facility as due to the fact that “Rio de Janiero already has two aquatics centers, and the Maria Lenk and Julio Delamare facilities already have the capacity for national and international events. As there is no demand for another center in the city, the most cost-effective option was to build a temporary facility for swimming and water polo finals because over the lifetime of a permanent sporting venue, 60% of the costs are in maintenance.”
Originally, the plan was to leave the outer structure in the pool in tact for use as an Olympic Training Center, but that too has been scratched.
The release by the Rio office sang the praises of the relative frugality of the new construction in the Olympic Park as compared to the London 2012 Olympics. In total, new construction of a Handball arena, a Velodrome, and the water park will total R$641 million ($272 million USD); while that’s 9% higher than the candidature file estimated, the total net cost will be only about a quarter of the R$1.6 Billion ($680 million USD) of similar facilities in London.
Construction on the facility is supposed to begin in the first half of this year, and the contract includes 11 months of operating it at an additional $8 million cost. It is aimed to be completed in the first quarter of 2014, and will host a test event in April – likely to be the Maria Lenk Trophy, meaning that event, at least in prelims, would be open to all swimmers from Olympic countries around the world.