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Thursday24 July 2014

West Ham looks to public funds to pay for stadium conversion

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Football club only willing to pay £3m towards £160m refit

Taxpayers can be expected to foot the bill if the Olympic Stadium is handed to West Ham United and converted into a football stadium.

This week the stadium committee of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) met for the first time, with what to do about the venue top of its agenda.

West Ham’s bid for the stadium is the frontrunner of the four proposals received, but a senior Olympic source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, has told BD that turning it into a 60,000 seat football stadium has been priced at £160 million with the Premier League side understood to have offered less than £10 million towards its conversion costs.

“My understanding is they’ve offered £3 million,” the source said. “They’re playing hardball. I can’t see them going much into double figures. Their reasoning is that it will be publicly owned so why should they put money into it?”

The Olympic Stadium

Source: Locog

The cost of turning the Olympic Stadium into a football venue has been estimated at £160 million

West Ham’s plans are understood to include temporary seating – rather than the retractable seating in place at the Stade de France in Paris – which can be laid over the running track that surrounds the stadium’s grass infield, which will double up as the football pitch. This will be removed during the three months of the football close season.

The LLDC has already promised that the 2017 World Athletics Championships will be held at the stadium ruling out the possibility that it will be knocked down.

The LLDC board is scheduled to meet in the middle of October with a decision on who the tenant of the stadium will be due later that month.

Three other offers have been made for the stadium, including a bid from League One side Leyton Orient which has an average crowd of just over 4,000 a game. But the source said: “The other three bids aren’t as serious as West Ham’s. I think theirs is the only really serious bid.”

A spokeswoman for the LLDC said it would not comment until the assessment of all bids had been completed, but confirmed that four were still in the running for the deal which will be let under a 99-year lease.

Original stadium architect Populous has helped out on West Ham’s bid, but earlier this year its principal Rod Sheard said the stadium should not be given to a football club. “My personal view is if it can find a solution that brings in the income but does not have to resort to professional sport that would be nice,” he said. “I think it could be a good outdoor amphitheatre.”

He estimated that its annual running costs will be £5 million a year.

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Readers' comments (10)

  • kamiichi

    The most expensive white elephant olympic stadium ever. A temporary stadium that has cost more Beijing bird's nest and a configuaration that is unusable and needs another £200m. Well done Peter Cook and Populous.

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  • This is utterly ridiculous. West Ham should be told where to go - they are not only getting a brand new stadium but all the supporting infrastructure for peanuts. They are currently in the Premiership and earn MILLIONS from Sky TV, why should the public foot the bill for their new stadium?

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  • If it was always intended to have a second hand use as a football stadium why not design accordingly - makes a total mockery of "legacy" and "sustainability"

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  • zecks_marquise

    I wonder how long £157M will last for basic maintainenceo of an empty stadium

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  • robert hodges

    Does the cost include repainting the Orbit in Claret and Blue?

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  • kamiichi

    Beijing Bird's Nest stadium $457 million (in 2012 dollars)

    London Olympic Stadium $789 million. With another £180 to fix it.

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  • I think you should check your figures regarding Beijing's costs. Just because Wikipedia says something doesn't mean its true, try doubling the number.
    The London Stadium was always intended as an athletics only stadium to be reduced in size after the games, if someone has changed their mind since they wrote the brief then the blame does not lie with the designers.

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  • the football 'industry' taking / demanding money from the public purse is an absolute outrage.
    The more clubs that fail, a la Rangers, the sooner the sport will re-balance in favour of the spectator.

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  • kamiichi

    @justin woukd be fine if the cheap and naty tempoary stadium cost was reflected in the cost. the emirates cost£500 million and that is a finished buildingm not a steel and concrete shell.
    ok double the cost of the birds nest to £900million, at least you've got a fibished complete white elewphant with a roof,and a running track next to the spectators. you can't have it both ways.

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  • ... the original Wembley cost £750,000 and had a capacity of 127,000 (wikipedia data), I think the country has been duped by these shady architects.
    Buildings cost what they cost - temporary does not equal cheap.

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