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Friday, July 27, 2012 - Page updated at 09:00 a.m.
London's hoops venue reusable
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Artistic and eye-catching, the mammoth structure appears to be bubble-wrapped for shipping.
Good thing. It may be on its way to Brazil soon.
The arena hosting the preliminary round of basketball at the London Games, its mammoth steel frame covered by recycled white PVC fabric, is a 12,000-seat temporary facility built for these games - and beyond. Erected in less than 18 months, it will be dismantled afterward and could reappear for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I suppose it's like something you might get from Ikea," said Stuart Buss, the venue's deputy media manager. "You can pack it up and reuse it. It's been cleverly designed so you can put it up quite quickly and take it back down."
Buss said London and Rio organizers have already discussed the building getting a second go-round inside the rings.
Unlike the other venues in London's architecturally impressive Olympic Park, the basketball arena won't have a lasting legacy.
"But we all hope to see it again in another Olympics," Buss said.
The facility's funky exterior is reminiscent of Beijing's iconic Water Cube, where American swimmer Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals in 2008. At night, the arena's outside walls will provide a blank canvas for elaborate, multicolored light displays designed to keep spectators updated on what's going on inside.
When China scores a basket, the building might have a reddish glow. If Australia counters, green and gold flashes will illuminate the walls.
Beyond its funky exterior design, the building has been customized to accommodate some of the world's tallest athletes and those with special needs.
Doorways are high enough that 7-foot Spanish center Pau Gasol won't ever have to duck while entering any room, and mirrors have been installed high on the locker-room walls so any player can check their hair for postgame TV appearances without stooping down.
Also, entrances and exits have been widened for wheelchair-bound athletes who will compete in basketball and rugby in the Paralympic Games.
Inside, the arena's seats are colored black and orange to resemble a basketball, and their haphazard placement is supposed to mimic London's shard-inspired Olympic logo.
The venue will be among the busiest during these games, hosting both men's basketball preliminary rounds and the women's prelims and quarterfinals - 64 games in all - before the tournaments move to the larger North Greenwich Arena. Also, 12 team handball games will be played here.
"We're the hardest working venue at the Olympics," Buss said.
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