Beijing Olympic Venue to Become Shopping Mall
The hopes that the Beijing Olympic Baseball Stadium could potentially spark a new generation of Baseball enthusiasts within China have been eliminated as the decision was made Monday to level the building and replace it with a shopping mall. The Wukesong Sports Centre with a seating capacity of 15,000 is the first venue to be destroyed after the games. Although it was declared a temporary venue before the games, this decision still has some fans upset.
“Our preliminary plan is to supply Beijing residents with a leisure centre combined with shopping, culture, sports and entertainment,” Guo Jinjiao, deputy manager of the development company, told the paper.
The 200 million yuan ($29 million) stadium played host to a Major League Baseball exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres last March.
But apart from the MLB’s rental fee for that game, it had not derived any income, the paper said.
“It could only be guaranteed if there were enough activities to attract people to the venue. We absolutely could not accept any suggestion of (keeping the field) to be used only once or twice a year,” said Guo.
MLB officials had had “many conversations” with Chinese Olympic and sport authorities and the developer to try to save the venue, Michael Marone, a Beijing-based MLB spokesman, told Reuters.
“Obviously it’s a shame. You would prefer to have it kept as a relic of the Olympic Games and to help baseball culture to further develop here,” Marone said.
An official with the Chinese Baseball League said the league did not have the resources for the stadium’s upkeep.
“We also wanted to save the venue but we are not the owners. It was a temporary facility,” Chen Gang, a CBL official told Reuters.
Baseball is still an outsider sport in China which is perhaps why they decided to scrap it. China's Olympic team placed eighth during the games, out of eight teams and their National League consisting of six teams attracts a few dozen spectators to regular season games. Authorities agreed that this is not nearly enough interest or revenue to continue the pursuit of a profitable baseball culture in China in the near future.