Abandoned UK stadium where Usain Bolt once raced handed huge lifeline

The National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace has been handed a huge lifeline after lying derelict for nearly three years.

The iconic race track, which once hosted Usain Bolt as well as a number of other Olympics stars over the years at Diamond League meets, was closed back in 2020. It had been able to hold up to 19,000 people, and even previously hosted the FA Cup final between 1895 and 1914.

While the National Sports Centre stadium, which was opened in 1964, is different to the one that held the FA Cup, it was built upon the same land. But, come 2020, it shut it's doors, with the stadium now lying in tatters.

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However, it now looks as though it could be primed for a comeback, with plans in the works for a renovation project. The Sun report a presentation on the planned work to rejuvenate the 19,000 seater stadium will take place on October 21, with it outlining the work that needs to be done to refurbish it.

Earlier this year, The Times reported how the stadium had fallen into decay, as well as noting how London Mayor Sadiq Khan has committed millions to help restore it to athletics glory once again. While part of the complex closed in 2020, there were parts that remained open until November 2022.

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However, safety concerns led to its entire closure, with concrete pillars used to hold up floodlights discovered to have been dangerously unsafe. While those floodlights have since been removed, the remained of the stadium and complex lies in disastrous state.

Animal excrement and leaks aplenty have become a major feature of the National Sports Centre complex in the wake of its closure, with the race track which hosted eight-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt also left in shocking condition. Speaking back in 2022, ex-British sprinter Donovan Reid told the BBC: "To categorise it as a bit of a mess, is like saying the pandemic was a cold. It's more than a bit of a mess.

"We would love it if work to make it safe can be done and then they can start its development. What we don't want is for someone to shut it down completely. I have young athletes who I believe can make the Commonwealth, Olympic and World teams and their training is being stifled."

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And Mayor Khan has also re-affirmed his commitment to the redevelopment of the stadium, calling it a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity. He said: "Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is a historic and much-loved sporting and community facility where many UK sporting stars have started their careers and trained, but which is in need of major investment and refurbishment.

"I am completely committed to this once-in-a-generation redevelopment of the site which will secure its future for decades to come. While work continues apace on our vision for the long-term future of the centre, I am delighted to announce that we intend to make a number of early improvements that we hope will make a huge difference to users of the centre."

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