Sir Robert McAlpine-led consortium will move into ODA offices after signing 'Memorandum of Understanding' for Olympic stadium

Plans for the Olympic stadium moved a step closer yesterday as the ODA announced it has signed a crucial contract with contractor Sir Robert McAlpine.

The two sides have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, a legally binding document, as a prelude to signing the full contract at the next stage of design.

The move is significant as the two sides had been in a deadlock over the costs and design of the stadium, delaying plans. Initial designs for the stadium were originally expected months ago but are now due to be released later in the autumn.

Building work is set to start in summer 2008, on schedule, the ODA said. It added that the MoU provides for the development of the stadium design and will allow for the early procurement of certain materials, such as steel, allowing more certainty for the budget.

McAlpine’s consortium, Team Stadium, which includes HOK Sport and Buro Happold, will now move into the ODA offices in Canary Wharf, east London.

Sir Robert McAlpine entered into negotiations with the ODA last October, after it was the only consortium to fulfil the Olympic body’s tough qualification criteria.

The brief for the stadium is to design a structure big enough to hold 80,000 people during the games, which will be reduced to 25,000 post-Olympics.