Olympic Stadium may not reopen until 2016, admits Legacy chief
Wednesday, 07 November 2012
November 7 - Dennis Hone, the chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), has admitted that the Olympic Stadium in Stratford may not reopen again until 2016.
There are currently four bidders vying for the Olympic Stadium with West Ham United, Leyton Orient, UCFB College of Football Business and Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One all looking to secure the lease for the iconic venue.
But Hone has confirmed that the Stadium will not reopen until August 2015 at the earliest, and possibly not until August 2016 if West Ham is selected due to the construction work that will be necessary to reconfigure the venue.
The length of time to reopen the venue has been caused partly by the delay to naming a tenant but Hone told the London Assembly here that it is imperative the LLDC makes the right decision on the future tenant to ensure the Olympic Stadium does not become a white elephant.
"We are currently going through the four bids that we have for the Olympic Stadium and we are now reaching the end of that process," Hone said.
"We need to make a decision on which of the four, if any, will provide the best long-term option and the best value for money.
"But it is important to remember that this is a 100-year lease we are talking about with the Stadium so we have to get it right.
"We don't want to look back in three or five years at a decision we regret.
"So if this process takes a few months longer than it is scheduled to take, so be it.
"If we are looking at 100 years, a few months will not make a big difference.
"We are looking carefully at reconfiguring the Stadium but we can't really do anything on that until we know who the tenant is and I don't want to speculate.
"Each bidder has a requirement of the LLDC for converting the Stadium so there will be costs.
"But I cannot say what they will be until we know exactly what we are doing, and the cost will depend on the tenant.
"We obviously have a commitment to athletics with the 2017 World Athletics Championships and a long-term commitment to UK Athletics.
"But we are also talking to operators for the Stadium to bring in other events around the permanent tenant.
"The operator will be responsible for making sure that there are events in the Stadium all year round so that will be a crucial role.
"But the most important thing here is that we get all of this right however long it all takes."
Hone's comments did not go down well with London Assembly, who expressed their anger at the delay.
"It's disappointing to hear of more delay to the Olympic Stadium legacy," said the London Assembly budget and performance committee chairman John Biggs.
"Regardless of who gets the stadium, a huge amount of work will need to be done before it can reopen to the public.
"Over the next three or four years, the LLDC will have to face that extra cost while coping with lost rent and lower visitor numbers on the Olympic Park.
"In the longer-term, questions remain about who will pay for improvements to the Park and whether the LLDC has access to the kind of sums needed to pay for new infrastructure – like schools and health centres - without raiding the public purse."
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