Three months on from the Games, what's going on with the Olympic Stadium?

With West Ham due next week to be named as preferred bidders, Robin Scott-Elliot answers the key questions

So, West Ham United are to finally moving into the Olympic Stadium?

It would appear so. The assurance from the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is that it will be all over by Christmas and while that is a promise that is historically bandied around with scant regard for reality, West Ham are set to be named preferred bidder for the stadium in Stratford after next week’s board meeting of the London Legacy Development Corporation. There is, of course, a but – this is a process that has been littered with buts: before the deal is done, final negotiations over the cost of transforming what was built as a summer athletics venue into a one fit for all seasons and football in  particular have to be settled once and for all.

There is optimism that agreement will be reached over the gap between what West Ham are prepared to pay towards conversion and how much public money the LLDC, which is overseen by the mayor of London and has government involvement too, are prepared to spend. A total of £38m was set aside in the original Olympic budget to pay for conversion but to carry out the major upgrade West Ham require – with seats installed over the running track like the Stade de France and a new roof – will demand at least £160m.

So who pays the difference?

The gap now stands at a reported £20m having been narrowed by adding more money from the Olympic Park’s regeneration budget, an increased input of close to £70m from Newham Council, the local authority, and the promise of more from Johnson – if West Ham up their offer of £15m by another £10m

West Ham’s offer was part of a package that includes paying an annual rent of £2.5m (inflation linked) over the 99-year-lease. The club say that is in effect worth £10m a year when income from a share of naming rights and catering is added.

We have been here before – who’s to say it will not all fall apart again?  

There is the possibility agreement will not be reached by Tuesday’s LLDC board meeting. The board itself is not universally behind West Ham’s bid, although it is the one favoured by Johnson. There are those who believe it makes more sense to get on with converting the stadium without West Ham, and so without the need for a new roof and retractable seats. It would still see 20,000 of the 80,000 seats removed but would be considerably cheaper and see the stadium up and running by 2014. That though would leave it without an anchor tenant and it is predicted that would create a likely annual loss of £2m – a profit is forecast with a Premier League football club in tow.

There is growing frustration over the “Stratford farce”, as one leading figure branded it, and with suggestions the stadium may not be ready to host sport again until 2016 – after the opening ceremony for the next Olympic Games and after Johnson’s mayoralty is done – there is a desire among key players, in particular the mayor himself, to get things moving.

Part of the reason for the snail’s pace progress – it was supposed to have all been sorted pre-Games – is to insure the process is legally watertight. West Ham were originally granted the tenancy ahead of Tottenham Hotspur last year only for legal challenges to propel the government into restarting it all over again.

Are they any realistic alternatives to West Ham remaining?

There are other bidders being considered, a football business school, Leyton Orient and a consortium looking to stage Formula One there, but none are capable of taking on the stadium on their own. The anti-West Ham camp see a multi-use stadium that will host athletics in the summer – as it will with West Ham – and concerts and one-off sporting occasions throughout the year. That does not appear to make long-term financial sense and would be a drain on the public purse.

If West Ham are chosen when will we see football in the ground – or any sport?

Construction on the stadium will begin next summer – that is if this predicted deal is struck and tenders go out in January – with the hope it would take a year to complete.

The best-case scenario would see West Ham move in for the start of the 2015/16 season – and with rugby World Cup games to host as well. The worst-case would be 2016/17. There is one certainty – the stadium will be ready to host the 2017 world athletics championships.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003