West Ham may have held down ticket prices to the new Olympic Stadium but taxpayers will have stumped up a large proportion of the costs to build and refurbish the 54,000-seater venue.
The total bill of the transformation of the Olympic centrepiece has been revealed as £272million.
This brings the total cost to £701million. The new Wembley cost £780million, the Millennium Dome cost £789million and Arsenal’s Emirates £390million.
The transformation costs were originally announced as £154million but, the London Legacy Development Corporation said, unusual engineering challenges arose. The entire structure was in effect rebuilt from scratch while the stadium is now topped with the world’s largest cantilevered roof.
The costs also reflect the huge scale of the works undertaken to transform the former Olympic venue from a temporary athletics stadium into a year-round multi-use arena that gives West Ham and athletics a home with 21,000 removable seats.
The problem was built into the legacy from the start. The original plan was to convert the stadium into a small-scale athletics venue – a promise to the International Olympic Committee – but it was quickly realised it would only become financially viable with a Premier League football team as anchor tenant.
LLDC chief executive David Goldstone said: “We have invested in transforming a temporary athletics venue into a permanent world-class multiuse arena that has a secure and long-term sustainable future. This has required a significant amount of work and innovative engineering solutions.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “Our remedy offered long-term sustainable investment in order to protect an iconic stadium that Londoners took to their hearts, and which is now set to be home to almost every conceivable sport, concert or community event for decades to come.
“The stadium will pay its way and not require any continuing subsidy from the taxpayer.”
The 45,000sqm cantilevered roof needed significant strengthening of the superstructure to support the 8km of cable net, 112 steel rafters, 9,900 roof panels and 14 light paddles each weighing 45 tonnes. The new roof covers every seat in the venue, improving the acoustics and spectator experience.
The stadium will re-open permanently in 2016 but work will pause to host the Great Newham London Run, Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, five matches in the Rugby World Cup, an England Rugby League international and the Race of Champions motorsport event.
West Ham have paid £15million towards the transformation costs and will pay £2.5million in annual rent. However, the £40million contribution by Newham Council could still come under scrutiny by the European Union under its state funding regulations.
Local school clubs will be given year-round access to the new floodlit 400 metres track, with a training and education centre in the stadium, which will offer up to 100,000 free tickets every year for Newham residents at West Ham matches.
Mr Johnson said: “A very bad call was made when those in charge at the time backed a stadium construction plan that would leave the Olympic Park with a much smaller, mouldering and tumbleweed ridden arena following the Games.
“Following that plan would have literally torn the heart out of the park and put at risk the incredible economic regeneration we are now seeing in east London.”
“We’ve created a knockout venue that will drive and sustain thousands of jobs, where we’ve ensured that a hefty share of the profits will be paid back into the taxpayers coffers and which provides a genuine Olympic legacy for our city.”
John Powell, chairman of the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership Board, said:”West Ham are gifted a potentially world-class facility, while athletes training in south London will be forced to work out in the cruel British winter as Crystal Palace is likely to be razed to the ground. The current plans could be catastrophic for sport in London.”
Sources of funding
The funding for the Stadium transformation work comes from a number of sources:
£40m: LB Newham
£15m: West Ham United FC
£38.7m: Games Public Sector Funding Package
£1m: UK Athletics
£3.5m: London Marathon Charitable Trust
£148.8m: 2010 corporate social responsibility settlement plus income generated on the Park through land sales and profits from venues.