Then and now ... and beyond. Photo: Dionne Gain
Sydney Olympic Park is playing an increasingly important role in the state economy nearly a decade-and-a-half after being at the centre of the world's biggest sporting event.
The economic output of the Homebush Bay-Silverwater area, which takes in Olympic Park, was $5.12 billion last financial year, nearly double what it was in 2001-02, modelling by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows. That ranked the Olympic Park area as the 20th biggest local economy in Australia.
Sydney Olympic Park through the years
1810: Homebush Bay. Photo: Fairfax Archives
There were fears Olympic Park would be a costly white elephant after the 2000 Games but it has emerged as an important commercial hub.
More than 14,000 people now work there, about 150 per cent more than in 2005. Many of the new jobs are in knowledge-based services, especially financial services and professional, technical and scientific services.
When British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson visited Olympic Park last year he said organisers of the London 2012 Olympics had "shamelessly used" Sydney Olympic Park as a reference point for post-Games planning.
"One of the lessons that we picked up from Sydney was the need to build the legacy use of the park into the plans at a very early stage," he said. "Ten years on this has been a fantastic success."
One attraction for business is that Sydney Olympic Park is managed by a state government authority rather than a local council. Nitish Jain, founder of the SP Jain School of Global Business, said the decision to locate its state-of-the-art campus at Olympic Park was influenced by difficulties he experienced in negotiating with councils.
The Homebush Bay-Silverwater area was Sydney's seventh biggest local economy in 2012-13 having risen from 10th place in 2001-02. During that period, its output overtook both the Chatswood-Artarmon and Mascot-Eastlakes areas.
Rob Tyson, a PwC economist involved in the unique "location-based" economic modelling, said Olympic Park's transformation has been especially good for western Sydney.
"It has played a critical role in driving the economic growth of the region and providing high value-add service sector jobs to western Sydney residents," he said.
A spokesman for the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, which manages the suburb, said its focus has been to build "a critical mass of jobs in the park, creating jobs closer to home for Sydney's west".
Over 200 organisations operate in Olympic Park including corporate giants Commonwealth Bank, Samsung Fujitsu, Sydney Water, Thales, Lion and QBE. The park, which is 14 kilometres from Sydney's CBD, has the lowest vacancy rate for commercial office space in the metropolitan area.
The authority estimates the park has attracted nearly $2 billion in private sector investment since the 2000 Sydney Olympics and forecasts the precinct will host more than 31,000 workers and 12,000 residents by 2030.
Major events held in the suburb make a big contribution to the state economy, with The Royal Easter Show alone generating $500 million a year. Sport Minister Stuart Ayres said Olympic Park was seen as an event destination: "This is a fundamental change in attitude and coincides with the rise in the recognition of Sydney's west as a critical centre for the state's economic and social wellbeing.''