Maybe London will bid for the winter Olympics?
London Mayor Boris Johnson announced Thursday that developers plan to build a giant indoor ski centre next to the Olympic Park in the eastern part of the city, site of the 2012 Summer Games.
The facility will rival Ski Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, a 22,500 square metre dome with five runs up to 400 metres long. Mr. Johnson said the runs at the London dome will be up to 800 metres and it will include skiing, snowboarding and a skating rink.
The snow centre will offer people in east London "the chance to learn a sport that gives huge amounts of pleasure around the world," Mr. Johnson said at a news conference at London's City Hall.
The project is being built by the owners of the Westfield Shopping Centre, one of the largest malls in Europe which opened next to the Olympic Park last year. The snow dome could cost as much as £200-million, or about $315-million, to build and it is expected to be completed in two years.
The ski centre is part of a major redevelopment of the 500-acre Olympic site, now called the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. All eight Olympic venues have been turned over to private sector tenants including the 80,000-seat stadium which is being refurbished to become home to West Ham United soccer team. There are also plans to build 1,600 homes on the site and University College London is considering developing a branch campus at the park.
In a recent report the British government said the 2012 Olympics had boosted the economy by £10-billion, or about $16-billion. Mr. Johnson said about half that amount was generated in London. However, several economists have questioned the calculations saying many of the supposed benefits would have occurred anyway.
Mr. Johnson stood by the figures Thursday, saying the Olympics had given London huge international publicity and has lead to a surge in new investment. And he said the city has proven that it can turn the Olympic venues into a lasting, productive facilities. "One year on from London's Olympic and Paralympic Games and we are defying the sceptics who prophesied a herd of white elephants," he said.