Beijing’s Water Cube set to make a splash once again

As Beijing gets set to mark two years since it hosted the Olympic Games, city authorities are planning to help celebrate the anniversary by opening up the National Aquatics Centre for public use.

The Water Cube (http://www.water-cube.com/en) - as the centre is more commonly known - was, along with the famed Bird's Nest Stadium, one of the iconic structures built for the 2008 Games and will again open its doors on Wednesday, July 28, after much to-ing and fro-ing about how it might be best put to use.

While for some time Beijing authorities hoped the facility would pay its way simply as a tourist attraction, they have since realized they would have to give a little bit more. Hence, the Water Cube has undergone 10 months of reconstruction.

There will still be swimming pools as a feature - open from 10am to 9:30pm every day of the year for an entry price of 50 yuan (six euros) - but some 78 percent of the Water Cube's total floor space has been converted into a water park, with rides such as the Aqualoop, Ridehouse, Bullet Bowl and the Speed Slide.

Entry into the water park section of the facility will set you back 200 yuan (23 euros) for an adult, 160 yuan (18 euros) for children while toddlers will get in for free.

While the nearby Bird's Nest stadium has sat relatively unused since the Beijing Olympic were held - from August 8 to August 24, 2008 - the Chaoyang Sports Bureau (CSB), which oversees the running of the Water Cube, has constantly looked for new ways to make use of the facility.

This has included hosting water-themed entertainment extravaganzas and even launching the Water Cube's own line of bottled water.

"A major problem for almost every Olympic host country has been how to use these stadiums after the event closes, since they require extraordinary levels of investment and need years to pay that off,'' explained CSB chief Chen Jie.

China spent an estimated US$40 billion (31 billion euros) on hosting the 2008 Olympic Games.

To see a video on the construction of the Water Cube, log on to http://natgeotv.com.au/Programmes/Videos.aspx?Id=1043&VideoId=95

MS

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