Taxpayers face extra costs under new stadium plan

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The Independent Online

Taxpayers are facing another hefty bill if West Ham United win the bid to move into the Olympic stadium, as officials hope.

The football club was one of four parties to register a formal bid for the stadium by the deadline of lunchtime last Friday, making their presence crucial to securing a viable future for the £500m stadium. Sixteen parties initially registered an interest in using the stadium in January, but 12 stopped short of submitting a full bid.

The details of West Ham's bid remain confidential and commercially sensitive, with negotiations between them and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) about to begin, but it is thought that the club's demands for the transformation of the stadium will be more costly than those made in their original winning bid, in which the club would have had to pay for the upgrade work itself.

Then West Ham bid to buy the stadium outright, but the bid collapsed after an architect involved in the very early stages of designing the stadium complained to the EU that the £40m West Ham had been pledged by Newham Council constituted illegal state aid. Under the new arrangements, the OPLC would retain ownership of the stadium, with Newham Council again hoping to secure a stake in the facility for a £40m investment.

The pitch will need to be ripped up and undersoil heating installed, in accordance with Premier League rules, an eventuality that was not foreseen when the stadium was first constructed.

The OPLC, whose job it is to transform the site and find long-term uses for the various venues after the games, have a budget of £292m for the renovation of what will become the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, including the stadium. But the figure covers more than 12 separate building projects, such as the installing of the South Plaza, a sprawling cultural and recreational area designed by the same architects as the Manhattan's new Highline park.

Among the three other bids for the stadium received on Friday was a consortium led by the University of East London, whose plans are believed to involve office space in the stadium's 700-plus rooms.