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Temporary structures: Commonwealth Games 2018 – how temporary structures will help to showcase the Gold Coast's sights

Temporary structures play an increasingly important role at major sports events. Tom Walker looks at how the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will deploy them this April

by Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in Sports Management 2018 issue 1
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Borobi, the official mascot for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games
Borobi, the official mascot for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

In April, Australia will host the Commonwealth Games for the fifth time in the event’s 106-year history. The Games, which kicks off on 4 April, will see a total of 70 nations and territories battle for medals at 17 venues across Queensland’s Gold Coast during 11 days of competition.

Gold Coast was awarded the Games in 2011 and its successful bid was partly down to the region’s existing sporting infrastructure. Most of the Games facilities, around 80 per cent, were already in place when the bid was launched – including the Carrara Stadium, the main venue of the Games.

Only three entirely new, permanent facilities have been built for the Games – the Anna Meares Velodrome, Coomera Indoor Sports Centre and the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre. While this year’s Games will rely heavily on existing venues, bringing them up to elite competition standard has involved a redevelopment programme driven by Queensland’s state government. In total, AU$320m has been spent on the three new venues and the general upgrading of existing venues.

At the heart of the delivery of the Games, however, is a plethora of temporary structures and overlay. In addition to the AU$320m investment in new venues, the Gold Coast 2018 Organising Committee (GOLDOC) is spending AU$180m on temporary infrastructure – bringing in everything from spectator grandstands and competition venues to auxiliary buildings.

According to Mark Cutler, head of venue and overlay at GOLDOC, the use of temporary structures and fit-outs will play a huge role in getting venues games-ready. “Temporary overlay is required at every venue to meet specific Commonwealth Games Federation and other international requirements,” he says.

“The amount of overlay required at the venues is highly variable. In general terms, we need to add 25-30 per cent of overlay space to venues that are already well-suited to competition, and more to other venues – such as the conference and exhibition venues being transformed to host sports for the Games.”

According to Cutler, temporary structures will be used in a variety of ways during the 2018 Games. “We are using temporary structures in everything from increasing venue capacities – by building additional grandstands – to catering for the Games’ operations, such as media centres and workforce areas.

“And then there are the broadcast lighting enhancements, additional video-board and scoreboard structures, security screening facilities and equipment, and additional spectator amenities – as well as additional electrical and hydraulic servicing capacity to support the additional loads,” says Cutler.

Three of the 17 venues being created for the 2018 Games will be entirely temporary – the triathlon centre at Southport Broadwater Parklands; The Currumbin Beachfront area, which will host the road cycling; and the beach volleyball arena at Coolangatta.

Using a temporary stadium for beach volleyball has allowed the Games host city to create a setting that will provide the TV audience with some spectacular backdrops. Located at a beachside location, the expected 1.5 billion broadcast viewers will be able to take in the Gold Coast’s iconic coastline.

According to Mark Peters, CEO of GOLDOC, the use of temporary venues has allowed the organiser to select a landmark site for the volleyball – but one that has also presented several challenges.

“There is a significant space requirement for the beach volleyball and much more than meets the eye when it comes to technical delivery – right down to the consistency and grade of sand on the court,” Peters says.

“Coolangatta is a great location for the temporary stadium and with the magnificent skyline it’s an opportunity for it to be showcased all over the world.”

The second temporary venue, at Currumbin Beachfront, will host the road cycling and race walk events. The location was chosen following a “rigorous technical process” to design the courses, which – like the beach volleyball venue – will showcase the coastline.

Meanwhile, Southport Broadwater Parklands will host the start and finish of the Games’ athletics competition, by being the setting for the marathon and triathlon.

At all three venues, temporary stands have been built to accommodate spectators. In total, more than 62,000 temporary seats will be added across the 17 venues.

As well as providing the necessary extra competition venues for the Games, temporary infrastructure will be used to provide the wide range of additional facilities required for various client groups. “These include the Main Media Centre at Broadbeach and sponsor showcasing sites,” says Cutler.

“Then there are all the corporate hospitality locations within venues, training venues for all sports, a dedicated hotel for the Games Family dignitaries and the Commonwealth Games Village for all the athletes. Most of the ‘backstage’ operations – such as the operational sites for transport bus and fleet staging purposes, security deployment and logistical storage – will also rely heavily on temporary infrastructure.”

The investment into upgrading the existing venues has given the facilities a new lease of life – and will provide a lasting legacy for the Gold Coast community. There is also a “pre-Games legacy”, as – in most cases – the improvement work on the venues has been completed well before the athletes arrive.

“Most new venues are already complete and in use by the community,” Cutler says, adding that there will be no white elephants at this Commonwealth Games.

“The venue legacy is already evident, with higher than predicted community usage levels for all of the new and improved venues. While a number of the venues will retain the capability to host major, high-performance events, the plan for the vast majority will be to facilitate enhanced community activity.”

The Games will also speed up the development of a major, non-sporting project. The Commonwealth Games Village will form an important part of the 200-hectare Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP), being developed through a partnership involving the City of Gold Coast, Griffith University, Gold Coast Health and the Queensland Government.

Described as “Asia-Pacific’s emerging health and innovation hub”, GCHKP will be a global business location for high-tech industry development, research and healthcare. Following the Games, the athletes’ village will be transformed into an AU$550m mixed-use community, creating a space in which to live, work and learn. It will be an integral part of the AU$5bn GCHKP – the region’s largest-ever urban renewal project – which will ultimately house a world-class university and two major hospitals.

A world-class health hub

The legacy of the Games will not just be a sporting one – it’s speeding up development of a new health and innovation hub that will benefit the region for years to come.

• This AU$5bn hub, known as the Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct, will be the region’s largest ever urban renewal project and is being developed by the City of Gold Coast, Griffith University, Gold Coast Health and the Queensland Government.

• The Commonwealth Games Village will become part of the new 200-hectare hub, which will
house a world-class university and two major hospitals.

The athletes’ village / © DAVE HUNT/AAP/PA Images
The athletes’ village/ © DAVE HUNT/AAP/PA Images

Creative transformations

For the second Commonwealth Games in a row, the hosts have come up with an innovative, temporary solution to create an elite athletics track at a non-athletics venue. In 2014, Glasgow’s Hampden Stadium saw 6,000 stilts being used as part of a revolutionary solution to raise the football stadium’s surface by almost two metres, in order to create enough space for the running track. This year, the Gold Coast organisers came up with their own piece of genius. Mark Cutler explains:

“The athletics track at Carrara Stadium is longer than the playing surface required for Australian Rules Football. Therefore, when a stadium upgrade was made in 2011, around the time when GOLDOC was being awarded the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the northern seating stand was made of modular construction, so that it could more easily be lifted out to accommodate the athletics track construction, and then be reinstated for Australian Rules Football after the Games.”

Carrara Stadium is home to Australian football team the Gold Coast Suns  / © MARK DADSWELL:AAP:PA Images
Carrara Stadium is home to Australian football team the Gold Coast Suns / © MARK DADSWELL:AAP:PA Images

Temporary specialists

The suppliers of temporary infrastructure at Gold Coast 2018:

Lend Lease construction management services

Cockram Construction delivery of the athletics track works and construction management of the Carrara precinct

GL Events ExpoNet grandstand seating and exhibition fit-out

Aggreko temporary electrical services

Moreton Hire marquee structures and portable air-conditioning

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