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The Olympic Stadium blueprint


Filed: Thursday, 17th February 2011
By: Staff Writer


KUMB.com sat down with Olympic Project Director Ian Tompkins earlier this week in order to get up to spec on the club's latest plans for the move to Stratford. Here's a brief summary of the ensuing conversation.

Confirmation

West Ham United's move to Stratford should be ratified within the next week by London mayor Boris Johnson and the Government. As a result West Ham/Newham Council will receive a lump sum of £35million to aid redevelopment of the stadium, whilst a further £40million comes in the shape of a council-raised loan (lent to the club at preferential rates). Another £20million from the sale of the Boleyn Ground will take the stadium regeneration budget to £95million (although the sale could raise considerably more than the £20million currently set aside).

Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)

A new SPV will be created to manage the Olympic Stadium lease and the finances of the winning bidders ie. West Ham United FC and Newham Council. The new company will act as a first port of call for handling events at the Stadium. All profits realised from the venture will be split 50/50 between West Ham and Newham Council; this includes revenue raised from hosting external events such as cricket, rugby, live concerts etc.

The stadium

The primary concern - and greatest financial burden - is to replace the existing roof to cover both upper and lower tiers in order to comply with football regulations. This will involve removing and replacing all existing paddle floodlights. Once complete, the revamped stadium will cater for 60,000 supporters in football mode, 73,000 in cricket mode and up to 107,000 in concert mode.

The reduction in capacity during the football season will be due to an area above the large video screen behind the goal being closed off (how is yet to be decided). This area will be opened for cricket matches raising the capacity to 73,000, whilst additional standing space allows the capacity to be extended to well over 100,000 for concerts or other events requiring a small stage (which is likely to be situated towards one end of the stadium).

The corporate/hospitality areas - which will be situated between the two tiers and directly in line with the pitch's halfway line - will also be redesigned with seat spacing adjusted to allow for extra leg room/comfort. The club expect to be able to cater for at least four times the number of corporate clients they currently do at the Boleyn Ground.

Temporary/retractable seating is under consideration, but by no means a certainty. Initial impressions suggest the club feel the side stands will not require extending, although the sections directly behind each goal will almost certainly do so. A number of potential solutions are currently being examined, whilst the club are well aware that this remains a major - if not the most important - issue for supporters.

The external shell of the stadium is also likely to be refurbished, whilst the stadium's upper tier - which was built with view to removing it after the Olympic games - and connecting bridges both require strengthening. Existing structures such as the vast media centre are set to remain - as will the earth-shatteringly loud public address sytem. You will certainly know when Mr Moon is in the building.

The reviled running track

As per the club's successful winning bid, the much-discussed running track will remain in situ indefinitely. The club will cover this during the football season (August to May) - although this will not affect the distance between the stands and field of play.

The entire track, as well as the pitch, will need to be removed temporarily in order to allow under-soil heating to be installed.

Filling 60,000 seats

The club are currently investigating a number of potential revenue streams designed to fill the stadium with supporters wherever possible. Although a midweek fixture against the likes of Wigan or Stoke is unlikely to appeal to all - the same in practically every ground in the country - West Ham hope to sell-out on several occasions throughout the season, especially in the first three years of occupancy when interest in the new stdaium is likely to be at its peak.

One scheme being considered is to offer tickets - either at a vastly-reduced price or free of charge - to schoolchildren throughout the club's catchment areas (London, Essex, Kent etc). This could boost the weekly attendance by up to 6,000, with the club keen to attract a new generation of fans (less than 15 per cent of season ticket holders at the Boleyn Ground are under 18).

The club also hope to attract large numbers of visitors from mainland Europe due to the improved rail links. By way of example, travelling from Frankfurt in Germany to Stratford come 2014 will take under five hours - meaning people from as far away as Germany, Austria and Italy could watch West Ham play as part of a day trip.

Stadium season tickets

One idea being floated is that of a stadium season ticket, offering supporters the opportunity to gain access to ALL events at the Olympic Stadium. The club are currently negotiating with a number of travel companies with regards to all-inclusive packages. This will not replace the existing regular football-only season ticket which will still be available.

Other events

In addition to West Ham United's home matches the stadium will also be used for a number of other sports including cricket, with Essex set to play their 20/20 fixtures in Stratford from 2014. Rugby could also feature, with the OS being opened a year ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup finals whihch are being staged in England (September-October 2015). The club have previously floated the possibility of staging American football games at the stadium.

Athletics will of course continue to feature at the stadium post-2012 games, with 20 days set aside per year for events (the vast majority of which will take place during football's off-season). Motor racing has also been mooted as a possibility. West Ham's tie-in with LiveNation - the planet's largest concert promoter who recently merged with Ticketmaster - will see some of the globe's biggest acts attracted to east London.

Transport

The Olympic Stadium will boast transport links literally second-to-none with the local stations being serviced by overground, underground and high-speed trains (including Crossrail and potentially Eurostar). A new high-speed link from Frankfurt is set to open next year, allowing fans from Europe to travel directly to Stratford. C2C trains directly into Stratford are also likely to be available for the benefit of West Ham's large Essex-based fanbase.

Consultation

Supporter consultation with regards to the move is already under way. Club representatives have already met/spoken with a number of supporters since West Ham's move was given the green light a fortnight ago. The club intend to arrange a number of fans forums and other meetings in the coming months in order to ascertain the supporters' hopes and aims for the Olympic Stadium. At present nothing is being ruled out, nor are any guarantees being given. WIth three years to go until West Ham are set to move into the stadium, time is very much on the club's side.

Odds and sods

* The John Lyall gates, recently renamed at the Boleyn Ground could be making the short trip across east London - although the World Cup Winners' statue, featuring Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst is unlikely to follow.

* The existing seats (white) are likely to remain in place due to cost costraints; it would cost around £2million to replace these alone.

* Naming rights: these could be worth a small fortune to the club (Arsenal received £100million from Emirates Airlines for a 15-year deal back in 2004). As a result there'll be no 'New Boleyn Ground' or 'Bobby Moore Stadium'; the (insert sponsor here) Olympic Stadium appearing the most likely option.

* West Ham United can begin redeveloping the stadium from October 2012, giving the club some 18 months to produce an acceptable blueprint for the Olympic Stadium.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







Your Comments


by ryan egan
09:59PM 22nd Sep 2011
''So what exactly has athletics gained to the sport's benefit? Nothing will go on there until 2014. Let's face it. The whole issue of the track is purely for the benefit of Coe's ego and UKA continued existance. The sport will not benefit one jot and the stadium will prove to be a monumental embarrassment as far as athletics is concerned.''

by Bob in Upminster
03:34PM 4th Mar 2011
''There are hundres of toilets beneath the upper tier. 23 blocks of female toilets with 18 cubicles and six male blocks in 2/3 of the stadium.''

by Brian David Bosomworth
07:26PM 20th Feb 2011
''I have been a West Ham fan for over 39 years now visiting regulary/travelling up from Devon and at the age of 43 I see this as a wonderful opportunity for my club. Forget the running track, visiting Wembly is a wonderful experience and great viewing so if this stadium can provide the same then it's thumbs-up for me.

This will be the turning point for our club to greater things. I along with many others are fed up with selling our best players over the years so hopefully not only can we keep the best but with fantastic state-of-the-art facilities we might well attract better players to take this club where it belongs.

Spurs know their bid in our borough was wrong and it is of my opinion that they are now jealous of what opportunities this gives our club. As for Leyton Orient, does Barry Hearn really expect his loyal supporters to jump ship to watch higher profile teams in his own back yard? Come on Barry, you know supporters are more loyal to their own club than that, just ask them.

Come on you Irons - and see you on Sunday at Upton Park when we will beat the Liverpool.''

by Peter J Cook
07:57AM 19th Feb 2011
''Re:Stadium season tickets. I guess these would cost a fortune. How about football season ticket holders getting a 'priority booking period' for all other events at the stadium? Do O2 phone users not get that for the O2 arena? This would be a bonus for the football supporters and may even increase season ticket sales. Just an idea.''

by Dave the hammer
08:25PM 18th Feb 2011
''Rumour has it that as they will have to rip up the running track after the games to install undersoil heating and then excavate down to allow the front fow seats to have more of a gradient then retractable seating will be put in place. The one major problem is apparently the soil is contaminated... All rumours I know but just another take on the debate.''

by Bob Lock
02:05PM 18th Feb 2011
''I have only one issue with the proposed use of the new stadium. Can we be sure that the playing surface can be kept in top class condition for playing football given that rugby and American football have been known to inflict severe damage?''

by Warren jaggs
10:57PM 17th Feb 2011
''I think we should also take the towers of the Boleyn Ground and the massive banner thing with Bobby Moore and the number six on it. And have the academy of football put up somewhere.''

by
09:58PM 17th Feb 2011
''I'm a fan since '61 and this is the best thing that has happened at West Ham since 1966. The Daves and Brady deserve praise for taking West Ham to another level.''

by Johnny B
07:42PM 17th Feb 2011
''Re: consultation. Who were/are the so-called lucky fans who were/are apparently been/being consulted?''

by Mick Whalley
06:51PM 17th Feb 2011
''The thought of white seats has already peed me off, the thought of retractable seating is just to keep us quiet till we get there then it will be forgotten. So begins the demise of my football club. Heaven help us.

PS. Read the Espanol story.''

by Terry
06:06PM 17th Feb 2011
''No mention of provision of toilets or food/bars inside the stadium. Where will these be? At what levels? The OS doesn't have these inside.

No hotel, offices, shop, gym for warming up, medical centre? Or will these be under the unused ends? Will the existing seats be adequate for long term use, or will these need replacing?

Not so much a blueprint at this stage as a rose pink overview.''

by Tomas Ekavall
04:56PM 17th Feb 2011
''"A number of potential solutions are currently being examined, whilst the club are well aware that this remains a major - if not the most important - issue for supporters".

Hopefully the club will go through with this idea as they know sightlines behind the goals is a key issue to most fans. But I would say getting claret and blue seating is of utter importance as they really need to work hard on giving the arena the West Ham identity many feel we will lose leaving Upton Park. And why not construct new towers at the main entry?''

by J-Mo
04:17PM 17th Feb 2011
''The more I read about the OS the more exciting and sensible the move away from UP seems to be. Will be a shame to leave the old place but I genuinely believe if the move is done right and the club is managed correctly then this could be the beginning of a very significant chapter in the club's history. I do not think this move will blow up in our face like some of the doom merchants and naysayers would try have us believe.''

by John Pritchard
02:02PM 17th Feb 2011
''The seating has to be nearer the pitch - at present we sit in row N of the Dr Martens lower and it's perfect. The same seat in current stadium would be hugely inferior, flatter to the action and several yards further away - and they'd still be among the best seats at Stratford. I certainly wouldn't to be upstairs behind the goal with binoculars.

Second point - it's all well and good planning on 100,000 crowds for concerts and also American football, rugby etc - as happened at Wembley what suffers is the very playing surface we would hope to at long last be playing good football on, rather than long ball to counter the mire in the middle. A lot of thought needs to go to this and not simply an obsession with profits.''

by CranhamHammer
01:20PM 17th Feb 2011
''Do we really need to roll out seats across the running track ?

I watched the England rugby international at Twickenham against Italy last weekend. As well as a massive space on each wing, which would house at least four lanes of a running track, there are large areas of grass and a large space at each end for the in try areas. No atmosphere?

Watch the forthcoming cricket World Cup in India. The fans will be half a mile from the wicket. No atmosphere?

Ever watched Australian rules, played on a cricket pitch. No atmosphere?''

by Mike Smith
01:15PM 17th Feb 2011
''We could offer Spurs the opportuity to ground share if they were to redevelop their stadium and generate some additional revenue to help reduce our debt.''

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