With the 2014 Winter Olympics officially in the books as of last night, the big question as far as the host city goes is "what now?" These Games are estimated to have been the most expensive ever (around $51 billion) and organizers hope to continue the tourism draw after the competition has wrapped up.
First things first: The venues will be put to use again next month for the Paralympic Games, which will be held from March 7-16. Once that happens, the Black Sea resort town will be left with four ski resorts, 40,000 hotel rooms, and multiple restaurants and arenas, all of which were essentially built from scratch.
According to The Huffington Post, Russian officials have plans for the new structures. Fisht Olympic Stadium, which housed the Opening and Closing ceremonies, will be used as a live entertainment venue and serve as a practice and match field for the national soccer team. It will also be used as one of 11 tournament venues for the Russia-hosted 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Bolshoi Ice Stadium that served as the main hockey arena in Sochi will "serve as a world-class multi-purpose sports and entertainment center." Athlete hotels are resportedly set to be turned into apartments and the town will aim to keep attracting tourists, especially during its peak season in the summer.
The goal is to avoid winding up like some previous host cities who built gleaming new venues that remain unused today. Beijing, for example, built some iconic venues for the 2008 Summer Games such as the Bird's Nest stadium, which stands today as a "costly relic" (the aquatics center, aka the Water Cube, still functions as a water park, however). The site of the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games is not in use at all, meanwhile, as several structures are crumbling.
Nonetheless, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said over the weekend that he was confident in what's to come for Sochi.
"The Olympic Games has provided a huge impetus boosting the development of tourism in this region," he said, reports USA Today. "This region has a great future ahead of it in terms of economic development and in terms of its image and reputation as a large, international-class resort."