SBD/December 6, 2012/Facilities

London Olympic Stadium Not Likely To Re-Open Before '16

Delays likely will prevent Olympic Stadium from hosting the '15 Rugby World Cup
Work to convert the London Olympic Stadium "for its post-Games future is unlikely to begin for about another year despite [EPL club] West Ham United being named the 'first-ranked bidder'" yesterday, according to Robin Scott-Elliot of the London INDEPENDENT. It means the stadium "will not be ready to host matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup -- it is on the shortlist -- although the snail's pace at which the project is advancing could mean it hosts athletics meetings next summer before construction work begins." If the deal is done for West Ham to move in, it is "likely to be 2016 before they physically can do so." London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) Chair & London Mayor Boris Johnson "remains wary of delivering a stadium built and converted with public funding to a Premier League football club without significant accompanying caveats." Johnson "supports the idea of top-flight football being placed at the core of the stadium's future but insists West Ham will have to offer further commercial guarantees before any deal can be completed." Both parties said that there is "no deadline set, although the LLDC hope that it will be settled by March next year." That would signal an "autumn start for conversion works on the roof and the installation of retractable seating no more than 16.9 metres from the pitch on all sides." Conversion costs are "estimated" at $241.6M (all figures U.S.) (London INDEPENDENT, 12/5). In London, Ashling O'Connor notes Johnson "must decide if spending nearly" $322.2M up front to "ensure the stadium makes a small profit is better value than spending less than" $64.4M on a multisport stadium and "subsidising it to the tune of" $3.2M a year for the rest of its life. An "incentivised operator may even work hard enough to ensure that a business selling a mixture of athletics, concerts and conferencing breaks even" (LONDON TIMES, 12/6).
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