By Duncan Mackay

London 2012_Aquatics_Centre_December_5_2011January 9 - London-based Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) will take over the Aquatics Centre and Handball Arena and Balfour Beatty WorkPlace the 114 metre high ArcelorMittal Orbit after this year's Olympics and Paralympics, it was announced today. 

The announcement was made by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to coincide with today marking 200 days until the start of the Opening Ceremony on July 27 and the fact that British Minister David Cameron was holding a Cabinet meeting on the Olympic Park. 

The new contracts will create more than 250 jobs, provide much-needed training and create new opportunities for small businesses, all targeted at local communities in East London, it was claimed by the OPLC.

It means six out of the eight venues have operators in place post-London 2012 with only the Olympic Stadium and International Press and Broadcast Centre still to find tenants. 

With over 800,000 users anticipated each year, the £269 million ($415 million/€325 million) Aquatics Centre will become a major community facility for use by local people after the Games and accessible to all, with average prices the same as other local pool facilities, the OPLC claim.

It will also be London and the South East's world-class swimming facility for use in international competition and for training by athletes.

The Handball Arena will be a flexible multi-use facility in legacy and become the capital's third largest arena with the capacity to host concerts, shows, exhibitions, sports events and other events.

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It is expected to welcome up to 500,000 visitors a year and generate a surplus and provide a financial return to the OPLC.

By combining two venues in one contract, the OPLC claim they have also ensured that the Aquatics Centre will not require any additional public subsidy as the Arena will cross subsidise it.

Further revenue will be generated from naming rights for both venues which will be on offer at a later date.

GLL already oversees the management of over 100 public leisure centres including swimming pools and gyms within London and South East England.

"We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to manage the 2012 Aquatic Centre and Multi-Use Arena post 2012," said Mark Sesnan, managing director of GLL.

"Our charitable social enterprise status, community values and successful track record, demonstrate that GLL is committed to opportunity for all, ensuring the Games offer a long-lasting sporting legacy all Londoners can enjoy.  

"We look forward to working in partnership with the OPLC to deliver world-class legacy facilities."

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Balfour Beatty WorkPlace, a facilities management company, will operate the eye-catching ArcelorMittal Orbit for 10 years and it is estimated will attract up to a million visitors a year.

Balfour Beatty WorkPlace will take over the Orbit as part of its contract for facilities and estate management across the Olympic Park, including maintenance of the park and visitor facilities.

Designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the venue will have two observation floors, giving visitors a stunning view across London's skyline.

It will be operated as a visitor attraction with pricing in line with similar London attractions.

"We are delighted to further extend our involvement with the London Olympics, which began with the Aquatics Centre and now continues with this highly prestigious role in ensuring London 2012 secures a magnificent, lasting legacy," said Ian Tyler, the chief executive of Balfour Beatty WorkPlace.

Together, the contracts with both companies will create 254 jobs with new apprenticeship opportunities every year and both companies have committed to pay the London Living Wage as a minimum and to fill up to 75 per cent of those jobs from local communities.

Also 86 apprenticeships a year will be offered.

They have also committed to appoint up to local small and medium sized businesses to provide the goods and services necessary to fulfil their contracts.

"As we kick off 2012, the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect time for the Cabinet to come together and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to make the most of this unique opportunity to showcase all the great things the UK has to offer to the rest of the world," said Cameron.

"As Ministers visit Olympic venues, businesses, schools and organisations associated with 2012 right across the UK, I want the message to go out loud and clear, from tourism to business, sport to investment, we are determined to maximise the benefits of 2012 for the whole country.

"Today, as we mark 200 days to go, and six out of the eight Olympic venues having already secured their future, we are well on track to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain."

Cameron's enthusiasm was shared by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

"This a ringing endorsement of our 2012 legacy and regeneration plans for East London and an amazing achievement by the Legacy Company," he said.

"To find operators to take over these world class facilities so far ahead of the Games and to secure their commitment to spread jobs and opportunities throughout the local communities is the icing on the 2012 cake.

"We can now start the run in to a fantastic year of celebration with huge pride and optimism that London will stage a great Games delivering lasting sustainable benefits long after the athletes have departed."

Margaret Ford, the chair of the OPLC, predicted that the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - which it will be called after the Games - has an exciting future.

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"GLL and Balfour Beatty WorkPlace will play a key part in the creating a Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that is a thriving visitor destination with world-class sporting venues that are both affordable and accessible to the public," she said.

"The combination of Balfour Beatty WorkPlace's commitment to jobs and apprenticeships and GLL's innovative proposals for sports programming will create a host of economic and sporting opportunities.

"Today's appointments are just another example of how London's legacy plans are further ahead than any previous host Olympic City.

"By working closely with sporting bodies and our local communities now, we can ensure that these venues will have a full and compelling programme of activities for when they reopen after the Games."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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January 2011: Aquatics Centre and handball arena looking for tenants after London 2012
January 2011: OPLC searching for operator for spectacular ArcelorMittal Orbit