West Ham plans for Olympic Stadium collapse

The DCMS has confirmed that West Ham's plan to buy the Olympic Stadium has collapsed. Instead, a statement released today says:

The stadium will now be retained it as a public asset, and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has been asked to start a new process to secure tenants for the stadium.

Athletics will remain at the heart of the facility, as has been promised as part of the 2017 World Athletics Championship bid, but the OPLC will also seek leasehold football tenants as well as considering alternative options. This ownership model is used very successfully in other stadiums in the country and across Europe and is also in keeping with other venues in the Olympic Park.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said:

“The process to sell the stadium has become bogged down.  We are acting today to end the legal paralysis that has put that legacy at risk.  Ending the current sale process and looking for a leasehold solution will remove the current uncertainty and allows us to help secure the future use of the Stadium with more confidence”. 

Back in January we wrote that the West Ham plan was a bad one that might need to be revised, although we didn't anticipate how quickly the whole thing would unravel. This is what happens when people try to play politics with a major stadium. There was a plan on the table from Spurs, which would have delivered a regenerated Crystal Palace (great news for South East London) and found a credible legacy use for the Olympic Stadium.

The new plan, which insists on retaining a major role for athletics at the Olympic Stadium, looks doomed to failure from the start.


Anonymous said...

Is it not possible to grass over the running track when required, build up the level in the middle area and have a larger than norm pitch?

Or wheel out extra seating that goes over the running track.

We have the Olympics the IOC aren't going to take it away at this stage, just scrap the stadium flog it off to a developer who can build a football stadium and whatever, rather than some botched up scheme.

If the IOC want a legacy why not let them put their hands in their own pockets to fund the idea?

I'm getting really jerked off by rich well healed freeloaders telling the less well off to give them them money they can squander.

Why the heck are they staying in 5 star hotels, rather than the Olympic village.

Coubertin said...

It's the UK Olympic committee that are insisting on a legacy plan because that is what they promised, in my mind rightfully, to the IOC and our bid was hung on that proviso.

The IOC is a lot of things, but got it's house in order a decade ago. The Premier League however is now half owned by shady foreign billionaires or offshore companies and either mired in debt despite the billions the FA has given them or treated as a plaything by oligarchs.

Nick in what way is demolishing a stadium that has been used for two weeks in anyway environmentally sustainable, or a good example to set in times of austerity. And especially as it's to give Tottenham FC a new ground nowhere near their heartlands.

Just because they say they'll develop Crystal Palace and be good for SE London, doesn't mean that should blind you to the facts of what they are doing. Sometimes it's about the bigger picture.

Anonymous said...

well they would pay the UK taxpayer from private funds so it's immaterial whether they keep it as is, demolish it or modify it?Does seem a little crazy perhaps, but if the numbers work?

The legacy would have been an appropriatly sized athletics stadium. A half empty stadium would not be a good advertisment for athletics events in the future.

The stadium, indeed the whole park is designed to be downsized. it's not sacred.

Brockley Nick said...


"Nick in what way is demolishing a stadium that has been used for two weeks in anyway environmentally sustainable, or a good example to set in times of austerity. And especially as it's to give Tottenham FC a new ground nowhere near their heartlands."

Well the stadium is going to massively reconfigured anyway. It was designed and built for that purpose, so you'd better ask the ODA why they thought that was a good idea. It's a cheap modular stadium, with much of the superstructure easy to dismantle and reuse. Clever design. Spurs would not be given the stadium, they would pay for it. That seems like a good idea in these austere times. The question of where Spurs is based seems a matter between them and their fans, and to a certain extent, Haringey Council, who have messed them around for years over their stadium redevelopment plans.

"Just because they say they'll develop Crystal Palace and be good for SE London, doesn't mean that should blind you to the facts of what they are doing. Sometimes it's about the bigger picture."

They don't "say" they would, the redevelopment plans would be made conditional.

The current mess is due to a pig-headed desire to give athletics a permanent, but oversized home. The "bigger picture" is that it isn't viable now, in the same way that it wasn't viable during Wembley Stadium's development - not without expensive public subsidy during what you describe as austere times.

anon from 13:30! said...

Nick said it better....but yes, im inclined to agree.

Matt-Z said...

Full disclosure, Nick is a Spurs fan.
Crystal Palace FC have equally interesting plans to redevelop the park and build a new stadium and swimming centre there.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Edelman have a new client in Spurs then.

dave said...

Watch out for the lizards, anon.

Brockley Nick said...

@Matt - yes, but speaking as a Spurs fan, I don't really care where they go. And I would be delighted if CP did the ground up, but they won't.

@Anon - No, as I mentioned in the article I link to, I work for Manchester City FC, so would not be able to work for Spurs, even if I wanted to, which I don't.

I'm not really arguing for any particular course of action, so much as saying that this was bound to end in a shambles. They either need to take an central-planning approach (which this govt and mayor are opposed to) and keep the thing as a national athletics stadium, money be damned or let commercial considerations run their course. At the moment, this is like watching the pound struggle to stay in the ERM.

Anonymous said...

How is this not a central planning approach though. It will remain in state ownership and an athletic track kept

kolp said...

Let Leyton Orient have it.

D said...

If only someone had listened to us naysayers when we said this Olympic thing would be more trouble than it's worth!

Anonymous said...

Agree with D. We are paying for games we don't want, additional traffic congestion we don't want, the inability to be able to go work when we want and being left with useless white elephants we don't want.

The only sensible and sustainable way to deal with the Olympics - should there be any good reason to have them in the first place - is to build a good set of facilities in Greece and keep the games there for at least 10 years. Who knows, it might even help Greece to get out of debt!

Brockley Nick said...

"How is this not a central planning approach though. It will remain in state ownership and an athletic track kept"

Well the statement is quite loosely worded in both cases - it leaves it open for both state ownership and athletics track to be ditched.

My guess is when they say:

"Athletics will remain at the heart of the facility, as has been promised as part of the 2017 World Athletics Championship bid"

They mean as soon as they lose the bid (or win it and stage the games) they will remove the track. They will sell the stadium at the earliest opportunity.

Mb said...

Disagree about the Greece thing. Not sure you could ever create a spreadsheet that shows the Olympics is a financial success but building full-size "permanent" facilities for an event the size of the Olympics for two weeks use is nuts. Designing many of the arenas so they can be down sized, moved to elsewhere, sold or dismantled is the way forward. China was perhaps the last to go for the crazy money? Doubt Greece will ever see a return for their investment, how often to they fill the stadiums left?

Mb said...

Sory about the appalling sentence structure and grammar! Phone/train post.....

Anonymous said...

Indeed we should have shoved the whole sorry shebang off onto the French at the very outset. The voting was skewed from the start. No option on the website to say you didn't agree with the Olympics coming to London and when you sent in a carefully reasoned comment to this effect you got an automated response from Lord Coe "thanking you for your support"!

Anonymous said...

How many athletic events are there in London that can fill Crystal Palace?

Looks like the taxpayer or is that Londoners will pick up the £35m cost of modifying the stadium rather than West Ham.

The only legacy I see is a massive bill for Londoners.

UK Athletics were promising a legacy with other peoples money.

Mb said...

Well both main parties supported the bid, both mayoral candidates backed it. They both got into power so 'UK Athletics' may have wanted it but it had a measure of support.

I'm looking forward to it, but also think its an extravagance. I'm conflicted.

death to naysayers said...

Why should we be listening to the naysayers about the Olympics! I think they are going to be brilliant for London and for this country, and hundreds of millions of people, if not billions are looking forward to them.

I don't like football but would never dream of saying we shouldn't host the World Cup. It brings nations together and that is a good thing. Obviously with something as big as the Olympics the logistics are mind-boggling, so it was never going to be plain sailing. Think of the amount of scrubbing up London has had to prepare for it, that in itself is a good thing. It probably contributed to the Overground being built too.

News just out is saying the Goldman Sachs has been let of a £10 million tax bill by HRMC, if all the tax loop holes that multi-national companies are exploiting were closed then it would pay for the Olympics 5 times over...

gibby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gibby said...

anon 17.02
Less of the "we" please. Some of us are looking forward to the games!

Lou Baker said...

The Olympics is great.

I'm delighted it's coming here. Gutted that I didn't get tickets - but still.

However, we have made a complete balls up of some of it.

The stadium is the worst example.

But what about the athletes village? I read they apartments were built without kitchens and will have to be converted. What a faff. Why just not build them with bloody kitchens in the first place - and sell them afterwards.

Charge the athletes a returnable deposit which they get back if they don't ruin the property. If they do ruin it ... keep the cash.

Rational Plan said...

@ lou baker.

The Athletes Village flats do have kitchens, they just never fitted them out. During the Olympics they will be used as additional bedrooms.
The athletes will eat in canteens.

TM said...

Its an athletic stadium and should stay as one. If one football club is happy to occupy it with the track in place we should encourage that.

Crystal Palace as a major athletics venue is a non starter because of poor communications notwithstanding the overground link

Oh dear I sound like Lou

Brockley Nick said...

"Its an athletic stadium and should stay as one."

Fine, so long as we're all agreed who's paying for it.

"If one football club is happy to occupy it with the track in place we should encourage that."

But they aren't. West Ham's plan was crap, as I said at the time, and lo...

get real said...

Except West Ham's plan wasn't crap. It only feel apart because of the legal challenge from Tottenham. West Ham are still going to rent it off the state, but rather than pay for it themselves to be refurbed, the taxpayer has to stump up the £95 million as landlord. And all because Tottenham threw all their toys out of the pram, they're still probably going to want the money Bojo promised the to redevelop White Hart Lane too. Shameful.

Danja said...

That "it is because of the Tottenham JR" excuse for pulling out of the deal doesn't ring true to me.

Anonymous said...

Does athletics as a spectator sport really warrant a stadium this size, after the Olympics is finished this will lay dormant a lot of the time with us paying for it.Lets see if Lord Coe et al are as enthusiastic after the event.

Hugh said...

The word 'legacy'. The most overused and empty piece of jargon in the current political lexicon? Listening to the politicians involved in 2012, there's an assumption that building huge stadia will mean 'kids take up sport'. It takes about three seconds' thought to realise what nonsense that is.

Then there's the claim that the Olympic park will help regenerate a deprived London borough. Sure, if you think under-occupied sports facilities and cafes will have an effect. Crystal Palace doesn't generate confidence. Nor does having London's biggest pool next door mean people will magically leave school with better grades or aspirations.

The entire debate is facily, when viewed objectively. Like the CEOs of large businesses who drive through M&A deals for the sake of their egos rather than economic benefits, London 2012 is destined to follow almost every other Olympic venture in racking up massive costs for little lasting return.

Should be fun, though. Anyone else got tickets?

kolp said...

Well athletics should, apparently we have obeseity verging on epidemic proportions in the uk. Athletics is one of the simplest forms of sport to get into. It's the purest form of sport; just human bodies competing against each other and achieving amazing feats; speeds, heights, length through training and effort.

I'd suggest that we need to amp up the profile of amateur athletics, maybe some inter borough competitiveness or some North London v South London physical rivalry, who is fitter? A theatre of athletics played out on a grand stage... the Olympic stadium.

dude said...

Yeah, and we can have gladiators fighting lions and stuff.

Hugh said...

Nice idea but if athletics interested kids they would already do it. The fact is it can't compete with football, Playstation and the rest, which kids find far more enjoyable and interesting.

Athletics is an oddity within sport. A relatively low-profile event which happens to occupy centre stage in the biggest sporting event of all. Even the Diamond League struggles to catch people's attention - which other professional sport has been forced to choose Friday nights for its showcase offerings? And how many athletes can the man or child in the street name, once you've said Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell?

Keeping the 2012 pool is a good idea. Swimming is a hugely popular activity already and London is short of good facilities.

In the meantime, if you want kids to stop being so fat, building a sports centre in the Lea Valley won't do it. Ask yourself: do I expect to become sustainably fitter once the Olympics are over? Now ask a 12-year-old.

Anonymous said...

Well said,a lot of schools dont even do athletics now.

D said...

Sadly, as a big athletics fan, Hugh is kind of right. Though it's not that athletics can't compete with football and playstation, it's that it can't compete with them at the moment. Given the right backing, TV time and promotion it could be far bigger than it is. Kids love athletics - they just end up drifting away from it in favour of those other more popular things.
Crystal Palace is big enough and adequate enough for the demand now.

kolp said...

Well if you have zero imagination nothing is possible...

Hugh said...

Before we go further, a simple question. Why should we try to get kids interested in athletics? If it's so we can produce more Olympic golds, I suggest opening your eyes to what's important in life.

If it's so we can get kids to be healthier, ask yourself how it was that kids were healthier in the past despite not having the Olympics. That should make it obvious that an Olympic stadium is not necessary.

Nor is it sufficient: Premiership football is hugely popular with children yet we supposedly have this problem with childhood fatties. Replacing or adding to the Premiership with 2012 doesn't show much grasp of reality. There are already hundreds of running tracks in local parks and an infinite number of places to go running. When did you last see a kid jogging round Hilly Fields?

The idea that an Olympics can produce lasting change in people's attitudes says more about the intellectual ability or honesty of the various political sponsors than anything else.

Is Oz better than the UK at almost everything (if we look at historical results) because of Sydney 2000? Have they got better since Sidney? The facts are already there.

Here's a suggestion - just one. What about showing kids that exercise can be fun and doesn't have to involve winning and losing? I have a feeling that if someone staged triathlons without a clock they would make a killing.

Brockley Nick said...

Hugh's right. I hope there will be a small increase in participation in track and field, but you are starting from a very low base.

Boosting participation requires helping people do sport as part of their everyday lives - floodlit five-a-side pitches so people can play on weekday evenings, cycle routes so people can use their bikes more safely and small-scale facilities that people want to use, close to their homes, like basketball courts and skate ramps. And culture change at schools, so after-school participation in sport is the norm, rather than the exception.

The Olympic Park is neither here nor there, except for the people who live nearby and for elite athletes.

kolp said...

I'm not getting your arguments here. Athletics as fun or as competition is not a contradiction.

Competition can add a little spice a bit of incentive to proceedings.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm down with the kids, but I've increasingly seen that almost every flat space; empty carparks etc these days has hordes of kids on various wheeled kit, skating, blading etc. So the argument about them only wanting to play video games doesn't really true.

Hugh said...

Albeit no one here made that argument.

Danja said...

If I could put up a strawman of my own, I have to say I'd prefer the kids in the carparks stick to skating etc rather than taking up javelin, discus and shotput.

Monkeyboy said...

"What about showing kids that exercise can be fun and doesn't have to involve winning and losing?"

I knew there was a softy underneath Hugh's "master of the universe" personae.

Feeling warm and fuzzy now.

Agreed, I'm looking forward to the Olympics despite the cost, but the getting the kids into sport thing is thin to say the least.

Anonymous said...

There are floodlit five-a-side pitches in Catford,part of the problem is getting parents involved.

Anonymous said...

There are floodlit five-a-side pitches in Catford,part of the problem is getting parents involved.

kolp said...

It was.

Athletics needs a higher profile, to compete with the advertising that football & video games like playstation receive.

I suggest that using a world famous resource that has been, built paid for, promised as legacy should and can be used with some imagination, I even gave an example, which has other benefits.

But if people want to only look at why might not work, rather than come up with ideas on why things can, fine.

Give the stadium to Orient, they have a nicely developed community sports programme and strong links with the location.

D said...

The main benefit of sport isn't winning medals, or being healthy - it is the fact that whatever the sport and whatever the level, it takes a certain amount of discipline, self control and motivation - all of which are transferable skills for everyday life.

Hugh said...

"Athletics needs a higher profile"

Why? Does knitting also need a higher profile? What about unicycling and Eton fives?

You fall into the same trap as all the politicians empowered to make 2012 happen and spend all the money: you start with a premise that is very easily questioned.

The logic checks out said...

As an Arsenal supporter I am inclined to suspect that this is all Tottenhams fault.


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