Olympic Stadium Marathon
The competition to run London’s new Olympic Stadium has entered its second bidding process, although it’s still not clear who will be in the running.
The race has already become something of a marathon and a bit of an embarrassment for the Olympic Park Legacy Company, which may set a record for the amount of time it can take to decide the future of a major British venue.
It’s already on track to take longer than the two years it took the UK government to work out what to do with the former Millennium Dome, now The O2 arena, and a further three years for the building to become operational under its new name.
Last September, the Olympic Stadium issue appeared settled when AEG teamed with Tottenham Hotspur soccer club but lost out to a joint-bid from Live Nation and West Ham United. AEG operates The O2.
A month later, the OPLC pulled the plug on the whole process as Tottenham mounted legal challenges over the way the bidding was conducted.
The soccer club also suggested the £40 million that Newham Council was prepared to lend to the West Ham bid breached European laws barring state aid for private companies.
The OPLC then announced a new bidding process and altered the conditions, preferring to keep the east London stadium in public ownership and leasing it to a tenant (or tenants), with the stipulation that the athletics track remain in place.
The second bidding process has already been stalled because it took longer than expected to prepare the tendering documents, although its first phase – which is to find the best sports team for the venue – closed Jan. 30.
Tottenham no longer appears to be in the running, having decided to develop a new stadium next door to its current home at White Hart Lane. The government and the local Haringey Council have promised £27 million toward redeveloping the surrounding area.
Despite winning the first tendering process to lease the stadium, there have been newspaper reports suggesting that West Ham isn’t happy with a new process that would result in it having no more clout than a tenant.
So far, it hasn’t been made clear how the £10 million a year the OPLC expects to earn from the naming rights would be carved up.
The Hammers are also bothered about the provision of temporary seating on the athletics track, making it more attractive for staging soccer matches, and the possibility of having to share the ground with a rugby club – which would mean the pitch could get carved up.
The tendering process to operate the venue – or at least provide the live music shows – looks less fraught. It’s likely that AEG and Live Nation will both be throwing their hats in the ring.
The tendering process doesn’t wrap until March and AEG is declining to comment on whether it will be submitting a bid, but that appears to have become its standard practice.
The company didn’t acknowledge that it had bid to run the new arena being built in Copenhagen, where it lost out to Live Nation, although it was made obvious when the Danish capital’s city council announced the full result.
Paul Latham, LN’s international chief ops officer, has confirmed that the disappointment of losing out in the first tendering process – largely because the source of its bidding partner’s funding contravened European law – won’t deter it from trying again.