FACTBOX: Five Facts about Beijing's 'Bird's Nest'

Tue Aug 5, 2008 12:05pm EDT

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(Reuters) - China's National Stadium, nicknamed the "Bird's Nest" and one of the two iconic venues for this year's Beijing Olympics, will host the Games's opening ceremony on Friday.

Here are five facts about the stadium:

* Construction began on December 24, 2003, the same day as the neighboring "Water Cube" National Aquatics Centre. The first sporting event -- an IAAF 20km race walk won by Australian Jared Tallent -- was held on April 18, 2008, 112 days ahead of the opening ceremony.

* Occupying 258,000 square meters and seating 91,000 people, it will stage the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics competition and soccer finals during the Games.

* It cost 3.5 billion yuan ($500.7 million), used 42,000 tonnes of steel and involved the relocation of 4,707 residents from 2,043 households in the surrounding area.

* Construction was suspended in 2004 after complaints that it was costing too much. Some 9,000 seats, 12,000 tonnes of steel and the retractable roof were cut from the design. Further delayed for 14 weeks because, officials said, of the complexity of preparing for the opening ceremony.

* After the Games it will become the home stadium of Beijing Guoan Football Club and an auction will be held for the naming rights. It will cost 40 to 50 million yuan ($5.72 million-$7.15 million) a year to run.

(Sourcing: Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games

(BOCOG))

(Compiled by Liu Zhen, Editing by Padraic Halpin)

(For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" here)

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