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A committee of engineers said that Rio de Janeiro's Joao Havelange stadium, scheduled to host the athletics at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, "is to stay shut for 18 months while the roof is repaired," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. The stadium, completed six years ago, "was closed in March because of structural damage to the roof in a major embarrassment for Brazilian sporting authorities." The city government said that "the roof could present a risk for spectators if the wind reached over 63 kilometers per hour." Rio de Janeiro's Catholic University Engineering Professor Sebastiao Andrade said, "It is a flaw which is related to the way the project was conceived" (REUTERS, 6/7). The BBC reported a committee of engineers said that "it had found a number of problems, including broken and twisted supports." Engineers concluded in a report that "the project for the construction of the stadium had presented 'structural errors' from the start." City official Alexandre Pinto, who is in charge of public constructions, admitted there had been "several mistakes in this project." He said, "To close a stadium so soon after it was opened is a tragedy, is a shame" (BBC, 6/7).
KEEPING CONFIDENT: The AAP reported local Olympic organizers said that "they remained confident the city would deliver the stadium in time for the test events planned for the 2016 Games." The committee said, "The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee is satisfied that the solution presented by the city of Rio de Janeiro will allow the Olympic Stadium to be ready for the Games which will happen more than three years from now" (AAP, 6/8).
Chelsea's dream of relocating to a new 60,000-seat stadium in the London district of Earl's Court "is back on the cards," according to Alex Miller of the London DAILY MAIL. Chelsea is "now expected to be invited to bid for a 17-acre plot in the area that is scheduled to be put up for sale at the end of this year." The site, called Lillie Bridge, is owned by Transport for London (TfL) and "currently used as a railway depot." It was "expected to be included in a 77-acre redevelopment of the wider area, called Earl's Court Masterplan." However, TfL said a sale to Masterplan developers Capco ''was not on the table'' and that any sale would be on the open market. A bidding war between Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich and Capco for Lillie Bridge is possible, "in which case Abramovich's desire to move, understood to be strong, is the only factor that will matter." It "is unclear whether discussions between Abramovich and TfL have already taken place." The site would fetch an estimated £200M ($305M). Should Chelsea move, it "would recoup substantial sums from the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge as it sits in one of London's most exclusive areas." Acquiring Lillie Bridge "would enable the club to build a 60,000-seat stadium." Stamford Bridge has a capacity of 41,000, and the club has estimated it would cost £600M ($914M) "to construct a bigger stadium on the 13-acre site" (DAILY MAIL, 6/8).
Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre expects that "the next step in the redevelopment of Anfield will be completed this summer," according to Carl Markham of PA. The club has been "working to buy up properties in the streets of bordering the stadium." Until the club has "acquired all the relevant houses no planning application to extend the Main Stand and Anfield Road can be submitted," but Ayre expects the first part of the equation to be completed in the next few months. He said, "Real progress has been made in acquiring them. Once they have all been acquired we will go through the planning process. We would expect to be in a position to make that a certainty this summer." An expanded stadium of 60,000 "will boost matchday revenue" and allow the Reds to close some of the financial ground on their rivals (PA, 6/7).
London's Wembley stadium is "facing a crisis over the re-selling of their 10-year debenture seats that underpin the business plan of the national stadium," according to Charles Sale of the London DAILY MAIL. The contracts for the vast majority of the 17,500 corporate seats expire in '17, and surveys of the Club Wembley membership "are reported to show the percentage of those prepared to renew for another decade is alarmingly low." The seats "were sold during an economic boom," with a minimum package costing around £50,000 ($76,000). However, a "considerable number of those corporate customers believe Wembley’s annual calendar of matches doesn’t represent anything like value for money," with this year’s 150th anniversary fixture list being an exception. Wembley Managing Dir Roger Maslin "insists a lot more debenture holders are prepared" to renew than the paltry 20% claimed by Club Wembley insiders. However, even Maslin said he would "probably choose not to" commit for another decade. The likelihood is that Wembley "will have to offer contracts of three, five or seven years next time, with a lower joining fee, to have any chance of holding on to their unsettled Club Wembley patrons" (DAILY MAIL, 6/7).