Today the London Legacy Development Corporation’s Board unanimously agreed that West Ham United’s bid for a concession to play at the Olympic Stadium should be ranked highest of the bids received, and that negotiations should be held with the club on final commercial terms for them to move to the stadium.
The Legacy Corporation’s Board determined that any agreement with West Ham United should be conditional on resolution of a number of issues including: the final specification for adaptations to the stadium and associated funding; securing planning permission; obtaining appropriate national governing body approvals; and the finalisation of commercial terms, including a mechanism to protect the taxpayers’ investment in the stadium were the value of the club to increase significantly through a change in location.
If a football use can be agreed the stadium would be reconfigured to provide a retractable/moveable seating solution so there could be a quick change over between athletics and football use.
The Legacy Corporation recognises that West Ham and other parties may not be able to meet the necessary conditions, so is progressing a detailed design for a non-football option. This would allow the stadium to be brought back into use as soon as possible.
The Legacy Corporation will now procure a stadium operator to manage the venue, coordinate community and sporting use, and to bring in various concerts and events whichever option is eventually pursued. It will also start procurement of a contractor to undertake agreed adaptations and is exploring the feasibility of opening the stadium for events in summer 2013 before the adaptation works get underway.
Under all options the stadium will remain a publicly owned asset. It has already been chosen to host the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships. The Legacy Corporation Board also approved a deal between iCITY – the preferred bidder for the long term lease of the Broadcast Centre – and BT to become the anchor tenant of the Broadcast Centre, taking 73,000 square feet to house its new BT Sport channels.The 10-year lease will see BT refit the space to create a production centre including TV studios, a control centre, 20 edit suites and an audience holding area. BT will start building works in February 2013 to convert the venue ahead of the launch of BT Sport in summer 2013. The operation is expected to generate around 250 jobs as part of iCITY, which plans to turn the buildings into a world-leading technology cluster that could create around 4,000 jobs.The Board also approved other areas of progress in programming the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with events and attractions. They included plans for a weekend-long event to mark the phased opening of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 27 July, 2013 – exactly one year after the opening ceremony of the Games, and the launch of an Arts and Culture Strategy in spring 2013 to develop the Park’s cultural offer.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation said:
“My position on the future of the stadium remains what it has always been: that we can secure a terrific future for this much loved and iconic venue with or without a football team playing there.
“I hope the detailed negotiations with West Ham can succeed, but I am determined that any deal should protect the interests of taxpayers who have paid for the stadium and would have to pay more for adaptations to make it suitable for football.
“I am pleased that today the Board has also backed BT’s exciting plans to take over part of the broadcast centre. It marks another milestone in our ambition to deliver a great employment legacy for Londoners from the Games as well as a new hi tech and creative hub for our great city in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.”
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said:
“Today’s decision on the stadium represents an important milestone towards reopening the Olympic Stadium. If we are to have a football tenant, West Ham and othe parties will need to meet the conditions that the Board has set out today. If a deal is not possible then we will bring the stadium back into use as soon as possible. In any event we are exploring options to hold events in summer 2013.
“The deal that iCITY have secured with such a quality tenant as BT demonstrates the level of confidence in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s great news for other tenants, investors and residents alike and demonstrates further progress in our legacy programme.”