Stadium May Not Open
In a saga that looks capable of outrunning the one that surrounded the Millennium Dome until AEG turned it into The O2 arena complex, the most recent problem concerns modification of the building – and who’s going to pay for it.
The four bidders on the shortlist to become the anchor tenant – West Ham United and Leyton Orient soccer clubs, Formula One and the Bucks New University’s College Of Football Business –all reportedly want substantial changes to the venue before taking occupancy.
London Mayor Boris Johnson is reportedly talking to officials from the National Football League in the U.S. about the possibility of staging games in the London stadium.
The Daily Mail has gone as far as suggesting that West Ham, which has reportedly offered more than £8 million per year in rent and related payments in addition to a reported multimillion lump sum, might share the stadium with a new NFL franchise.
All of the potential anchor tenants are believed to want a roof that covers all of the seating as well as retractable seating on the athletics track and improved hospitality, which would add a £160 million cost to a stadium that’s already cost £486 million.
London Legacy Development Corporation chief exec Dennis Hone told the Daily Telegraph that making the changes may be a lengthy process because of the need to agree to a detailed design and for the work to be carried out.
He said it would likely delay the chosen tenant moving in until August 2015 at the earliest, although it may take until August 2016.
Johnson, who also chairs the LLDC, would have the government foot the bill from the £337 million it set aside as a contingency against an Olympic overspend. The treasury believes the LLDC should negotiate with the anchor tenant to decide how they’ll share the cost.
The LLDC is looking to sell five large tracts of land at the Olympic Park, which have been earmarked for building homes for as many as 8,000 people. The land is said to be worth about £1.1 billion.