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Olympic Arena Transformation Costs Soar

Monday, June 29, 2015

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LONDON--UK politicians are demanding publication of the full details of a costly and controversial redevelopment deal involving the 2012 Olympic stadium.

Transforming the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium in East London into a football arena for the West Ham United Football Club has reached a cost of £272m ($427 million USD), according to authorities.

The London Legacy Development Corp., the authority in charge of “maximizing the legacy” of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, announced the cost June 19.

London Legacy Development Corp.

A new cantilevered roof and retractable seats are among the projects planned for the former Olympic stadium in East London. The project will cost £272m ($427 million USD).

The announcement means the venue’s total bill, largely footed by British taxpayers, has skyrocketed to more than £700m ($1.1 billion USD), reports say.

About £15m ($23 million USD) of the cost is reportedly being borne by West Ham FC, which plans to move into the new digs for the 2016-17 season.

The stadium was completed for £429m ($674 million USD) ahead of the games.

The Project

The conversion project involves removing the original roof and light paddles to install the world’s largest cantilevered roof, according to officials.

Boleyn Ground
CdTurri / Wikimedia Commons

Beginning with the 2016-17 season, the West Ham Football Club will move from its current stadium,   Boleyn Grounds (pictured), into the Olympic Stadium. The team has played in Boleyn Grounds since 1904.

The 45,000-square-meter roof is twice the size of the original and is designed to cover every seat in the venue.

An innovative retractable seating system for 21,000 spectators is also planned.

Other work involves installing catering facilities, toilets and turnstiles, as many of these elements were designed to be temporary for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

'Urgent' Call for Details

For now, officials are keeping deal details under wraps, citing commercial confidentiality, reports say.

“This has the feel of a fiasco cooked up somewhere between the Mayor’s office, DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and the Treasury,” according to MP Chris Bryant, the Labour party's Shadow Arts Minister.

Chris Bryant
Official Photo

MP Chris Bryant has urged officials to reveal "secret" details about the West Ham stadium deal.

“Which is why, in the interests of transparency, I urge the government to publish the full details of West Ham’s secret deal as a matter of urgency.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson has admitted the deal was a mess, but has blamed the former mayor and then Labour government, according to the BBC.

"It was the Treasury under Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown who decided to go ahead with a stadium that was completely unsuitable for the purpose," he said.

Rent Not Disclosed

Further, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the BBC there were "good reasons" why arrangement details could not be published, noting that the terms of the rent, specifically, should remain confidential.

Publication could jeopardize future negotiations with possible tenants, he said.

However, numerous reports have surfaced saying the club has agreed to pay £2.5m ($3.9 million USD) in rent for 99 years. By comparison, the Ajax Amsterdam Football Club pays £9m ($14.1 million USD) per year to the City of Amsterdam for its venue, The Guardian reported.


Tagged categories: Europe; Funding; Government; Maintenance + Renovation; Renovation; Roofing materials; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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