London 2012: Olympic mountain biking venue will not serve alcohol to spectators as site is owned by Salvation Army


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The Independent Online

The spectre of rain still looms over the London Games, but one venue is to which, spectators might not be too happy to learn, will remain dry throughout.

Hadleigh Farm in Essex, where the mountain biking competition will take place, is the only one of 46 Olympic venues that will not be serving alcohol.

The site is owned by the Salvation Army, who only agreed to allow the Olympics to be staged there on the condition that booze be kept off the menu.

The events takes place on the final weekend of the games, with 40,000 spectators attending over the two days.. Tickets for the event, which is open access, in that there are no fixed seating positions, are completely sold out.

That it is to be the only Olympic event where spectators will not be able to have an alcoholic drink has not been communicated to ticket holders. As with all Olympic venues, spectators cannot bring alcohol with them. “It’s a bit of a shame,” said Paul Douglas, from Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, who bought four tickets to the event, and is attending with his friends. “We’d been looking forward to a few beers in the sunshine. We had no idea. You see all these stories about it being seven quid a pint and all that, I guess we just thought there’d be a bar there.”

Heineken have paid a multi-million sum for “sole pouring rights” at the games, which has involved Marston’s beer at Lord’s and Pimm’s at Wimbledon to be given generic names and sold in unbranded containers, but their taps will not be finding their way on to Hadleigh Farm.. A spokesperson said, “We haven’t had any discussion over it. If it’s an unlicensed venue, it’s an unlicensed venue, and that’s the end of it.”

The Salvation Army has owned the site for 120 years, where it runs tea rooms, a farm shop and guided walks through the English Heritage site. It also runs the Hadleigh Training Centre there, where people with special educational needs take courses in IT, carpentry and other life skills.