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Mall a central part of Olympic experience

Mall a central part of Olympic experience

Posted: Monday, July 9, 2012 9:01 pm
By: GREGORY KATZ Associated Press

By GREGORY KATZ
Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — The gleaming Westfield Stratford City mall poses an interesting question about human behavior: Is it possible to head off to a major international sports event and forget to go?
Could a person be so distracted by 250 shops, 70 restaurants, 14 bowling lanes and a 24-hour casino that they don’t complete their journey to Olympic Park, just a few short steps away?
“I really hope so,” said John Burton, the new mall’s development director.
He’s only half-joking.
The placement of the 1.75 billion pound ($2.75 billion) mall — between the area’s public transit hub and the Olympic Park’s main entry— means an estimated 75 percent of fans will have to walk through it to reach venues for showcase events like gymnastics, swimming, basketball and track.
Sheer retail genius or simply diabolical, depending on your point of view.
Either way, it’s likely to be a marketing bonanza, with several million fans expected to pass by at least twice on the day they have Olympic tickets.
It’s on the way home, when visitors are no longer worried about clearing security to get to their seats on time, that Westfield is likely to rake in millions.
The mall is gigantic by any standards.
It has taken an Australian company (Westfield, based in Sydney) to bring American-style shopping to London, first at its Shepherd’s Bush mall and now at its location next to the Olympic complex.
Westfield and other smaller malls are having an impact on London, a city laid out on an informal village scheme in which residential areas are anchored by “high streets” where shops, banks, restaurants and groceries can be found.
Residents can typically walk to the high streets within a few minutes. They can then hop on an Underground train to commute to work if needed.

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