West Ham Confirmed as Olympic Stadium Tenants
March 21, 2013
West Ham United have been confirmed as anchor tenants for the Olympic Stadium starting from August 2016, after the government put an extra £25m towards the cost of converting the venue.
Adapting the stadium for football will cost between £150-£190m and the Treasury’s contribution is now roughly £60m.
The Hammers themselves had to raise their own funding by £5m to £15m and the overall rent is approximately £2m a year.
The Premier League club have secured a 99-year lease for the right to use the £400 million ($606.6m) stadium for all home fixtures, though they will have no property interest in the stadium.
The club are expected to move into the stadium ahead of the 2016-17 season.
A message on the club website from Hammers Vice-Chairman, Karren Brady said: “I am proud to inform you that Mayor of London, Boris Johnson will be making an historic announcement confirming that the Club has reached an agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation granting us the right to become the anchor concessionaire at the iconic Olympic Stadium.
“The move would provide an opportunity to improve our fortunes on every level including opening doors to new revenue streams. My Chairmen and I cannot thank you enough for your loyalty and patience so far. For three years we’ve been asking you to trust us.
The stadium will be a 54,000 capacity ground, making it the third largest in the Premier Legaue, behind Manchester United and Arsenal.
It will be a UEFA Category 4 stadium and will have retractable seats, allowing fans to be closer to the pitch whilst maintaining the running track.
London Mayor and Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) added: “This is a truly momentous milestone for London’s spectacular Olympic Stadium ensuring its credible and sustainable future. Through this deal with West Ham United FC, we are defying the gloomsters who predicted this landmark would become a dusty relic.
“With a series of world class entertainment and sporting fixtures already in the bag for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, this iconic site is set to be the glittering centrepiece of ambitious regeneration plans for east London, which will capitalise on the Olympic investment into this area for the long term benefit of this city.”
However, the move has not been praised by everyone, with former sports minister Richard Caborn describing the decision as “the biggest mistake of the London Olympics.”
Caborn said: “This is the biggest mistake of the Olympics and lessons should be learned from this.
“West Ham are basically getting a stadium costing more than £600 million for just £15 million and a small amount in annual rent [£2 million].
“I do welcome the fact that the future of the stadium has finally been secured, but we should also realise that the public sector is picking up the tab.
“Time and again mistakes are made with Olympic Stadiums and the lessons should be learned for any future similar projects.”
Leyton Orient Chairman Barry Hearn, who has continually opposed West Ham’s move to the stadium which is within close vacinity of the club’s own ground expressed his disappointment. Speaking to Sky he said: “We think today’s announcement is jumping the gun. The decision of the High Court will be whether or not the bidding process rules were followed by LLDC (London Legacy Development Corporation).
“We’re applying to the High Court for a decision to sling the whole lot out.”
Speaking about the possibility of a ground share, Hearn added: “My gut feeling is that West Ham didn’t want to share, they wanted the stadium to be theirs. We believe the LLDC have made a massive mistake. We will let the judges in the High Court decide and we’ll see where we go from there.
“I know this is David against Goliath. I know everyone would rather I went away, the sad news is I am not. I don’t think this is fair in a commercial sense or a moral sense. It sounds to me like West Ham are getting too many helping hands. It will eventually put us out of business. If anyone needs help, which is surely the point of the Olympic Legacy, it is Leyton Orient.”
A number of athletics events will be held at the stadium, as part of London’s Olympic legacy commitment. The stadium is also expected to be used as a venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.