SBD/Issue 100/Olympics

U.K. Taxpayers May Have To Maintain Stadium After '12 Games

London Olympic Park Stadium Will Seat
80,000 During Olympics, 25,000 Afterwards
U.K. taxpayers will "face a multimillion-pound maintenance bill" to keep open the Olympic Park stadium after the '12 London Games, according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. LOCOG officials admitted that they have "failed to find a commercial operator to take over the venue" after the Olympics, and the venue will cost at least $1.15M (all figures U.S.) annually to keep open. Projected revenues from "athletic events and a proposed sports academy will leave a big funding shortfall at the venue, where building costs have already spiralled" from $406.5M to $788.6M. The U.K. government said that no soccer or rugby clubs were "interested in becoming the anchor tenant" after '12. London Mayor Boris Johnson: "There were insuperable obstacles to do with the shape and it would have cost far more in the end to create a stadium suitable for Premier League football, even if there was [a club] willing to come to the table." LOCOG officials indicated that the stadium, "which will be reduced from 80,000 seats during the Games to 25,000 afterwards, will never be profitable." However, O'Connor notes construction on the venue, set to be completed in '11, is "too far advanced to change tack." Meanwhile, U.K. Ministers unveiled their "strategic vision yesterday for an urban park -- the largest in Europe -- divided into six neighbourhoods with up to 16,000 new homes and six new schools built around world-class facilities." But the officials declined to say how Olympic Park, "which will have a secondary school for 500 pupils and a national skills academy for sport incorporated into the undercroft, would generate money" after the Games (LONDON TIMES, 2/11).

FOR SALE: In London, Simon Hart writes finding an "effective post-2012 use" for the stadium will be "one of the key things the Games will be judged on but there is now little hope of attracting an anchor tenant." English Football League One club Leyton Orient and Guiness Premiership rugby clubs Saracens and Wasps reportedly have withdrawn their interest in relocating to the stadium, which instead will "host international and domestic athletics meetings as well as grass-roots sports and other events such as music concerts" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/11).  

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