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Alignment is key to Istanbul delivery success

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Istanbul 2020 has pledged to offer the Olympic Movement the benefits of a new market without any of the potential risks, thanks to a Games Plan in total alignment with Turkey’s transformative 2023 Master Plan.

Istanbul 2020’s budget has the lowest expenditure on dedicated Olympic construction projects. Only $1.1 billion of the non-OCOG infrastructure budget will be spent on capital works specifically for the Games – the remaining 93% will be spent irrespective of the outcome of the bid on development projects relating to the 2023 Master Plan.

The 2023 Master Plan is the Turkish government’s national development blueprint: a far-reaching strategy aimed at ensuring the country’s remarkable economic growth over the last decade is translated into a tangible improvement in quality of life for its citizens. Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Games is totally aligned with the 2023 Master Plan, minimising incremental expenditure, maximising legacy yield and guaranteeing delivery certainty.

Speaking from Buenos Aires ahead of the 125th IOC Session, Istanbul 2020 Bid Chairman, Hasan Arat, said:

Istanbul 2020’s Games concept is founded on Turkey’s 2023 Master Plan and they are completely aligned. The demands of hosting the Games fit perfectly with the immediate needs and the long-term vision of the city. Istanbul needs a modern, high-capacity transport network; that network will guarantee quick and convenient travel at Games time. Istanbul needs new sports facilities; those facilities will deliver great sporting moments in 2020. Istanbul needs something to harness the huge appetite and capacity for development in the country right now; preparing to host the Games for the first time will align all our talent and resources behind a shared goal. Istanbul 2020 will have the full power of the Turkish nation behind it – we will show the world the powerful Games platform and lasting legacies created when the Games and city plans are truly aligned.

Our 2020 Games concept has been designed to leverage and reinforce Istanbul’s long-term planning objectives that are set out in the 2023 Master Plan. As a result, 93% of the spending identified in our non-OCOG infrastructure budget is already underway or planned as part of Istanbul’s ongoing development. Despite the transformative effect hosting the Games will have on our city, Istanbul 2020 actually has one of the smallest incremental expenditure budgets of recent times.

Key highlights of the 2023 Master Plan include:

  • Target growth of Turkey’s GDP to $2 trillion and becoming a world top-10 economy by 2023
  • Construction of a third Istanbul airport
  • Comprehensive upgrade of Istanbul’s city transport led by new, extended and enhanced Metro network, three new Bosphorus crossings, and extensive augmentation of heavy rail, motorway, metrobus and tram services
  • Housing and community development with TOKI, state agency responsible for Istanbul 2020 construction, delivering 60,000 new houses nationwide every year
  • Redevelopment of the iconic Haydarpaşa port – returning the shores of the Bosphorus back to the people of Istanbul
  • $500 million annual investment in sports participation and development programmes, supplemented by an additional $2.5 billion investment to build 693 new community sports facilities and 25 stadia
  • Establishment or restoration of green areas, with forest areas increased up to 23.3 million hectares (30% of Turkey’s land mass), National Parks increased to 50 million hectares and Natural Parks increased to 55 million hectares by 2023
  • Public transport in Istanbul made 100% accessible by 2015.

Ulker Sports Arena gives up its secrets at Stadia & Arena Istanbul

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Delegates at Stadia & Arena 2013 in Istanbul went on a behind the scenes tour as part of  the opening reception, in which Ulker Sports Arena insiders revealed some of the secrets of its successful first year. AEG staff explained the inner workings while those involved in its development held presentations.

Don Dethlefs from sports architect Sink Combs Dethlefs explained the arena’s flexibility:

The arena can curtain off the upper tier for more intimate shows with about 6,000-7,000 capacity. They can stage a 360 degree or 270 degree concert. A half-house divides the floor and is suitable for theatrical events. We worked with the Turkish engineer to get a roof truss that can hold 70 tonnes of equipment, enough for the biggest shows.

We designed the bowl for European basketball where the seats have to be further back. In the States we put them right up to the court. But here we raised the first tier up so that three rows can be added in front for NBA basketball while retaining great sightlines. We designed the locker and changing rooms, working with AEG, to accommodate smaller events as well as the larger.

DDG’s Jim Andreone painted the bigger picture. Based on the arena’s ability to stage many different types of events, it will become the anchor for the Alpella Youth City.

It’s an arena-anchored lifestyle city. The O2 in London and Staples Center and O2 World Berlin are precursors of this project but don’t have true retail. There will be an open air events plaza, 240-room hotel. Lifestyle normally means half of the mix is restaurants and cinemas.

To make that work, you need 200 events per year to get enough people to come to the arena zone. You also need a lot of space and Madison Square Gardens teaches us about underground parking – there are two levels here – and getting a lot of people in and out.

Andreone noted the 2,000 capacity training arena and the ability to hold two events simultaneously (recently a concert at the arena and a women’s basketball playoff at the mini arena) to bring the necessary numbers. Ulker Group is planning the correct programme mix before beginning construction.

Various companies who have contributed to Ulker Arena, from seating (all upholstered except for the retractable bleachers at one end), to incident management software to the removable court (turned over 27 times since opening), also made presentations.

AEG has filled the arena, which provides an eastern leg for major tours around Europe, with top concert acts and family shows to complement its basketball sport tenant.


Don Dethlefs

Don Dethlefs

Jim Andreone

Jim Andreone


Delegates at Stadia & Arena tour the building with AEG staff

Delegates at Stadia & Arena tour the building with AEG staff