Board Split On Future Of London’s Olympic Stadium; West Ham Option Could Cost $1B

If EPL club West Ham United is chosen to move into the Olympic Stadium at a “crucial” London Legacy Development Corp. board meeting next month, the stadium is “likely to have cost at least £630M ($1B) by the time it reopens in ’15 or ’16,” according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The club believes that its tenancy bid “remains the only viable solution to secure the long-term health of the Olympic Park and a future free of public subsidy.” But some who will make the decision believe that, as the costs continue to increase, “it would be better to press ahead with the quicker, cheaper option of reopening it as a multi-use stadium without football.” The board remains split and will discuss at a meeting next month whether to move forward with a full-scale plan that would install retractable seats, a cantilevered roof and permanent hospitality facilities “at a cost approaching £200M ($318.5M).” Even “at the most conservative estimate the conversion budget would be £160M ($254.8M) including £25M ($39.8M) of contingency,” and the overall cost “could end up being £200M.” LLDC CEO Dennis Hone admitted that it could be Aug. ’16 “before the first competitive match is played in the stadium.” Additionally, insiders now believe that the stadium “could be reopened for less than the £38M ($60.5M) already put aside by the LLDC from the original £9.3B ($14.8B) public funding package” if the decision was taken to drop West Ham and pursue an alternative option to appoint a stadium operator that could coordinate a program of athletics, concerts and other sports. Under the scenario, the stadium “could open by spring ’14.” But the majority of the board, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, “is understood still to favour the West Ham option” (GUARDIAN, 11/19).

DECISION TIME:
The GUARDIAN’s Gibson in “The Sport Blog” added three days after West Ham submitted its “best and final” offer to become the stadium’s main tenant, the LLDC’s 17 members remain “split over the two remaining options on the table.” Rather than closing down the stadium for another four years, some board members argue that it is “best to appoint an experienced stadium operator such as AEG or LiveNation and let them go with it — even if it requires a modest ongoing public subsidy.” The plan proposes that the stadium could open by spring ’14. The majority, led by Johnson, “continue to believe that a future involving West Ham, athletics, concerts and other one-off events including cricket and rugby, is the best solution.” They “will have to convince the remaining waverers” that the club’s final offer, believed to be “significant” improvement on the £10M ($15.9M) originally tendered, “is sufficient testament of the seriousness” of West Ham’s intentions. If they can hit their latest deadline of reaching a decision before the end of the year after discussing their next move at a board meeting on Dec. 5, Hone and Johnson “will then have an equally hard job on their hands: ensuring the ongoing farrago does not burst the popular image of the Olympics as a bubble of golden success” (GUARDIAN, 11/19).

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McDonald’s volunteers to find out their Olympic roles this week

As initial offers for the volunteering roles during the 2012 Olympics are sent out this week, some successful 10,000 Game Makers have two weeks to accept them. McDonald’s anticipates the replies particularly impatiently, because the fast-food giant is in charge of providing training for the volunteers.

 

However, it is just the beginning of a long process of filling up all of the 70,000 unpaid positions for the Olympics. Over the next few months thousands of e-mails will be sent to applicants, aiming to inform everyone about the progress of their application by the end of this year. LOCOG officials also claim the last interviews are scheduled for March, 2012 and the last role may be taken even as late as April, 2012. All candidates have to undergo security checks before signing the final contract.

The first volunteers who received conditional offers are inter alia: Nader Mozakka from North West London who will be an NOC Assistant in the Athletes’ Village; Maggie Hendry from Dundee, Scotland who will be a Physiotherapist at North Greenwich Arena at Games time; Erin Morgan from Newry, Northern Ireland who will be an Event Services Team Member at the Olympic Park and Charlotte Evans from Caerleon, Wales who has been assigned a role as an Event Services Team Member for Wimbledon.

LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe stressed the importance of the offers made, as it marks the new stage of the Game Makers programme. He said: “It has been a privilege for my team to meet and interview so many enthusiastic and dedicated people from right across the UK who would like to volunteer with us and make the Games a success for athletes, media and spectators alike.”

Jill McDonald, UK chief executive of McDonald’s, added: “We aim to help provide the volunteers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver an outstanding level of hospitality at the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.”

The “McJobs” offered are perhaps not the world’s most desirable employment, although initially promised to be financially rewarding, will be unpaid for the 2012 Olympics. Spectacle has already covered McJobs, which can be found in the Olympics 2012 section of Spectacle’s Blog.

Unsurprisingly, the official volunteer t-shirts will not be the only place where golden arches will be seen at the 2012 Olympics, as McDonald’s also obtained a monopoly on food sold during the Games. This has stirred up a debate on public health and well-being, which could be argued as not being on McDonald’s priority list. This American meal brand plans to open the largest McDonald in the world in the Olympic Park, Stratford. It is also interesting to know that there will be no kitchens provided to athletes, who will be forced to dine in the dining halls catered also by McDonald’s.

Obviously, McDonald’s sponsorship is happily welcomed by LOCOG, but should their profit really overshadow the Olympic’s overriding goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle?

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Missed Opportunity for Olympic High Tech Legacy

Back in March 2011 The Wellcome Trust made a £1bn offer to transform the Olympic Park into a ‘global hub for research and innovation’.

Yet the offer was rejected by the Olympic Delivery Authority who instead sold the Olympic Village to Qatari Diar and Delancey Estates for £557m, who will develop the site into a neighbourhood of over 2000 homes.

The Wellcome Trust noted on their website that the rejection was a huge disappointment for them, stating:

‘The Wellcome Trust is disappointed that the Government and the Mayor of London did not wish to take our proposals for the Olympic Park further. If our bid had been successful, our holistic vision for the Olympic Park and the legacy would have delivered a world-class centre for technology and innovation and up to 7000 high-quality new jobs, and it would have made a substantial contribution to the regeneration of East London’

The decision to reject the offer was initially founded on the basis that the £1bn bid made by The Wellcome Trust did not meet the amount that has already been invested into the Olympic Park prior to the bid and that their plans for the site would not provide taxpayers with sufficient value for money.

Yet both Saffron Woodcraft and Ian Birrell argue that this is a missed opportunity for an Olympic Legacy. Whilst The Wellcome Trust plan promised to provide 7000 jobs, the provision of social housing and ‘further social infrastructure’, this offer has been turned down in favour of investors who plan to transform most of the site into private housing, putting into question just how beneficial this decision is for the local residents and for taxpayers. Woodcraft and Birrell suggest that the International Olympic Committee’s decision is one based on short term rather than long term benefits. As Birrell argues:

‘…they are focussing on short-term profits by looking to sell the lucrative athlete’s village to the Qatari Royal family in conjunction with a private firm of property developers’.

This is just another decision, others including Greenwich Park and the new Stratford Westfield Shopping Centre, where the International Olympic Committee has put their interests and the interests of their sponsors before those of Londoners. Perhaps, as Birrell puts it:

‘Infrastructure is built to suit the demands of the International Olympic Committee, not the needs of the host city’.

 

 

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Unexploded bomb could lie underneath Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Delivery Authority has dismissed claims that there could be an unexploded bomb lying beneath its Stratford stadium.

However, according to Government records, a German bomb dropped in a tip on the exact site of the stadium during the Blitz.
Records exist of bombings during the war, which state that a large hole was left in a rubbish shoot at the refuse site after an air-raid. Despite several searches throughout the 1940s, no bomb was uncovered at the site.

A report by weapons company BAE Systems for the Government in 2007 concluded that explosive material must lie beneath the site of the stadium of the intensity of air raids in the area during the war.

A spokesman for the ODA said that more than 3,000 searches for unexploded bombs had been carried out across the Olympic Park, including the Marshgate Lane stadium.

For full article click here.

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