SBD/July 6, 2012/Olympics

Will Olympic Stadium Become White Elephant With Post-Games Tenant Still Unclear?

A company interested in staging an F1 race has submitted a bid for Olympic Stadium
London's Olympic Stadium was “designed precisely to avoid becoming a ‘white elephant’" after the Olympics, but with three weeks to go before the start of the Games, its "future remains uncertain,” according to Robin Millard of the AFP. The facility is “designed as a permanent 25,000-seater sunken athletics stadium, with a temporary 55,000-seater tier on top, the bare concrete exterior of which is covered in a fabric wrap.” The venue in Stratford, east London, cost $760M and “was a statement of intent that this Olympic stadium was not going to be a waste of money.” Former London Olympics Minister and LOCOG BOD member Tessa Jowell said that LOCOG was "‘absolutely determined’ that the venue should have a long-term future.” Jowell: "We were all haunted by the possibility of our stadium being a 'white elephant.'" But the Olympic Stadium's destiny is “still far from resolved, with the Games just weeks away.” Three contenders have “confirmed their bids, with applications due to close in early July.” They are EPL team West Ham, a joint bid by the Univ. of East London and Essex County Cricket Club, and a company “wanting to stage a Formula One race that would go inside the stadium.” U.K. soccer club Leyton Orient officials “also retain an interest.” Jowell: "I'm absolutely sure that the right long-term use will be found. Probably by this time next year there will be a long-term tenant ... and this will be a living stadium, probably with football, probably as an entertainment venue with other uses as well" (AFP, 7/5).

IN THE SCRUM: In London, Gavin Mairs reported the company managing the Olympic Stadium has "formally submitted an application for the venue to host matches" during the ‘15 Rugby World Cup. The application is "receiving serious consideration" by England Rugby 2015, the organizing company for the tournament, which will be staged in England and Wales during September and October of that year (London TELEGRAPH, 7/3). In Scotland, Bill Lothian noted that Scottish Rugby Union CEO Mark Dodson launched an "ambitious scheme featuring World Cup glory as part of a four-year plan," and Scotland could become one of the "first rugby teams to sample the arena." English Rugby 2015 CEO Paul Vaughan said, “It would be great to have a world-class event in a world-class venue." Emirates Stadium is currently being considered as well for the event location, but it is "understood a successful Olympic Stadium bid would replace the Arsenal football ground" (SCOTSMAN, 7/4). In London, Sam Ross noted that for the move to happen, the Olympic Park Legacy Company will have to "guarantee the venue can meet all the requirements" listed by the Int'l Rugby Board for tournament stadiums. The list will include for the stadium to be free of advertising, which is "likely to not be resolved until the stadium tenant has been found after the Olympics" (METRO.co.uk, 7/4).
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