What happens to Olympic facilities after the games are over?

The truth is, it's basically a crapshoot. Some Olympic parks become ruins, while others are reborn. Perhaps the most depressing example of the former is Athens, the birthplace of the Olympics. Of the 22 venues built for the 2004 games, only the badminton stadium, transformed into a theater, remains open. The other 21 venues have fallen into disrepair and have to be watched by security guards to prevent vandalism.

Other former Olympic host cities have fared better with the venues and infrastructure they built.

The area around Sydney Olympic Park, the site of the 2000 Summer Games, was intended to undergo an urban renewal project before Sydney won the bid for hosting, and since then many of the original development plans have been carried out on the site. A mix of commercial and residential construction has been completed and more is planned, including office buildings, a school, hotels and apartment buildings. The Olympic venues themselves host some 1,800 events annually, including the MTV Australia Awards, Australian Rugby League games and the Big Day Out music festival.

Centennial Olympic Park, the site of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, has similarly found a variety of uses and spurred development in the surrounding area. The park is the site of the On the Bricks summer concert series and Atlanta's Independence Day concert and fireworks display. Recent development close to the park includes the World of Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia Aquarium.

While that's all encouraging, does the continuing use of the facilities actually do any good for the host cities? According to the researchers at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, it does. The university's Technical Assistance Center released an economic impact statement in 2006 that showed the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) in Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Winter Games, generated more than $356 million in revenue across New York state in 2004-05. Some $310 million of that came from spending by tourists who visit Lake Placid to ski, snowboard, bobsled, etc. in the Olympic venues.

Not all of Lake Placid's former Olympic park is open to tourists, though. In the mid 70's, Camp Adirondack opened on the old site of New York's first state-operated tuberculosis sanatorium. The prison camp was home to a program where inmates performed various jobs for the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, from constructing campsites to maintaining buoys on the lake. When Lake Placid was chosen to host the 1980 Games, the inmates constructed the Olympic ski trails. Once the games began, they were relocated to other prisons while the camp facilities housed Olympic staff and two hundred acres of camp land were used for the construction of athlete housing. After the games were over, Camp Adirondack became Adirondack Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison, and the former athlete dorms became the site of the Federal Correctional Institution, Ray Brook.

This question was asked by Melissa S. from Edmond, OK. If you've got a burning question that you'd like to see answered here, shoot me an email at flossymatt (at) gmail.com. Twitter users can also make nice with me and ask me questions there. Be sure to give me your name and location (and a link, if you want) so I can give you a little shout out.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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