May 22 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Alexandra Palace has opened its doors as an ‘orange Mecca’ to welcome Dutch Olympians and their supporters.
As a bright orange double-decker bus outside suggested, the iconic building was taken over last week to become Holland Heineken House, the official base for Dutch athletes and fans for the Games.
The “sleutel”, or key, to the historic venue was handed to ex-Olympian Andre Bolhuis on July 26 in the presence of an orange Beefeater, a ‘walking flame’ mascot and dignitaries.
It officially opened the doors which will welcome thousands of people each day throughout the Olympics.
Holland House is open to everyone and tickets are still available.
Duncan Wilson, Alexandra Palace chief executive, said: “Haringey is not an Olympic venue, but this is a way of Haringey engaging with the Olympic dream.”
A running track circles a bar serving – of course – Heineken so fans can celebrate or drown their sorrows.
This is surrounded by tiered seating and stalls where visitors can try their hand at various sports, many of them virtual rather than the real thing.
A stage in the main hall will welcome Dutch medal winners at the end of each day’s sport, while a huge screen shows the action as it unfolds.
Heineken Netherlands managing director Philip de Ridder said it has taken a lot of work: “I was here two weeks ago and I thought to myself ‘how will this be turned into a great Holland Heineken House? There is so much to do’.”
But Mr de Ridder is impressed with the outcome: “I spoke to the people responsible for the place and I said ‘use this momentum for the coming 20 days to exploit the potential from this beautiful building’.”
Mr Wilson added: “The financial gain is important to us, but actually maybe more important is that Holland Heineken House shows what can be done and how the place can be transformed.”
Find out more at www.alexandrapalace.com.