Those expecting a swift conclusion to the West Ham/Olympic Stadium saga will have to wait a little longer, following the news the decision regarding the stadiums future has been postponed. The London Legacy Development Corporation met on Monday, only to be informed that negotiations with West Ham had yet to reach a definitive conclusion.
The Guardian report that a conclusion to the long running saga has yet to be reached due to ongoing discussions as to how best to convert the stadium into a permanent venue, with costs being touted at £160 million. A sum of money that has left a lot of people very surprised.
£160 million to convert a stadium is staggering to say the least, with it having already cost £468 million to build for the summers games. It is expected to hold a 60,000 capacity following its post-games conversion, with the LLDC wanting to ensure that West Ham make a meaningful contribution to the conversion costs.
The £160 million being mentioned only goes to show the how poor the planning around the Olympic legacy really was, and has left many Hammers fans wondering if the move is the right decision after all.
It seems an incredible amount of money to spend on ‘converting’ a brand new stadium that was so expensive to build in the first place. It does make you wonder what exactly was envisaged for the stadium come the close of the games. You can almost imagine whoever in charge saying: “let’s get these games out the way first and worry about what to do with the stadium later.”
West Ham’s average attendance at Upton Park is close to half the capacity of the Olympic Stadium, standing at 31,079. It begs the question as to whether £160 million is worth spending, with the risk of not filling the stadium week in week out?
A proposed ground share with Leyton Orient continues to be mentioned, with club owner Barry Hearn confirming his clubs interest whilst at the same time somehow managing to to bring Martin Luther King into the debate.
Hearn believes sharing the Olympic Park with the Hammers would be the ideal scenario, and previously said of the proposed ground-share: ‘I had a Martin Luther King moment – I had a dream.
‘I looked at the Olympic Stadium and said ‘why not’ [share with West Ham]?
All very profound, but is it viable? Leyton Orient hold an average home attendance of 4,298. A ground share would surely mean splitting half the costs? Would this be viable for the League One side?
A poll taken on a West Ham forum, prior to the £160 million announcement, revealed that 66% of supporters were behind the boards bid to move to the Olympic Stadium.
West Ham remain certain they offer the only financially viable solution, certain that their offer to rent the stadium will pay off twice over the length of the tenancy.
Their co-owner David Gold said via Twitter: “Sadly the decision on the Olympic Stadium has been postponed. We must be patient but resolute.”
LLDC chief executive, Dennis Hone, has said it could take a couple of months to reach a satisfactory conclusion. With the latest on goings, it would be interesting to see another poll stating whether Hammers fans still back the boards decisions.
What do you think of the Olympic Stadium saga? Follow me on Twitter @LukeGreenwood89 and let me know your thoughts.