London 2012 promises to be one of the most unforgettable Olympic Games ever, with the basketball tournament highly anticipated as we are now 308 days away from the ultimate sporting showcase.
Before Eurobasket, the Olympic Basketball Arena hosted a test event, which got positive reviews overall; there are a few minor problems which will be sorted out before the Games start.
So, if you’re travelling to London next July – and want to know more about the arenas and what they are like – let TalkBasket give you a guide on what to expect.
OLYMPIC BASKETBALL ARENA
Facts: A temporary arena that will host the group stages of both the men’s and women’s basketball events. The finals of the handball tournament will be at the 12,000 seat stadium, plus it will also house the wheelchair basketball and rugby competitions at the Paralympic Games.
Outside: The venue has had mixed opinions on the subject of how it looks. Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan has said that the arena looks like a giant meringue, and one-or-two members of the media have said it looks like a pavlova.
Either way, it is a very unique building, but you can tell its temporary, as you have to go outside to use the bathroom and the food and drink stands are all outside as well, very expensive, but absolutely delicious.
Bit difficult for vegetarians though, as there wasn’t much.
Inside: The arena inside looks brilliant, the seats anywhere give you a great view of the court, so unless you blink, you won’t miss the action.
One negative though is the temperature, with many fans, media and the players complaining about how cold the arena inside was during the Test Event.
Hoodies, jumpers and jackets were worn in the stands, with the players warming up wearing extra layers. At times they looked uncomfortable on the court, but got used to it as the tournament progressed. The Croatian team complained on the first day, with China following suit two days later.
Overall: Once the organisers sort the temperature out (which hopefully they will), then the fans will enjoy every second of the group games in the basketball event. A fantastic basketball facility and it’s a shame that the arena will be taken down and reused after the Games are completed.
NORTH GREENWICH ARENA
Facts: For the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the O2 Arena will be renamed the North Greenwich Arena due to a conflict of sponsorship interest with the main Olympic sponsor, BT – a close rival to the rights owner, O2.
The North Greenwich Arena will stage the quarter final, semi final the bronze and gold medal games. It will also stage gymnastics of both the artistic and trampoline kind.
Basketball has featured heavily at the North Greenwich Arena since its opening to the public in June 2007. Hosting NBA games, both pre-season and regular season, several Great Britain internationals, plus the British Basketball League Trophy final.
With a capacity crowd of around 19,000 for basketball, it will be more than suitable to stage the final games of the London 2012 Games.
Outside: The North Greenwich Arena was opened originally as the Millennium Dome in 2000 and reopened in 2007 as an entertainment and sports venue. Outside the dome there are numerous restaurants and bars plus the North Greenwich underground station is opposite the venue. Most of what you will be offered will be inside the dome, but outside the arena.
Inside the dome, but outside the arena is a plentiful amount of fantastic restaurants from steakhouses, Nandos, Brazilian and Italian food, plus great bars, cinemas and a British Music Experience museum. It’s like a shopping centre once you walk in.
Inside: Probably one of the most breathtaking arenas to walk into, no doubt about it. Though if you’ve got a ticket that is in the upper tier – way up in the heavens – it may be a little difficult to see the action on the court, but there is the usual giant screen above if you’re having trouble.
The gold medal game promises to be a once in a lifetime game with Spain and the USA favourites to repeat Beijing in 2008 and face-off in the final match.
Overall: One of the top venues in Europe, if not the world. There is no other venue that can host the gold medal game other than the North Greenwich Arena.