Football club West Ham is facing a delay of up to two years on any future move to the former Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
According to Building’s sister title BD, newly appointed chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation Dennis Hone told members of the London Assembly today that there is now no hope of completing a conversion of the stadium in time for the start of the 2014 football season.
The Legacy Corporation is currently considering four bids to be the long term tenant of the £428m Olympic Stadium, with West Ham widely believed to be the front-runner.
Hone said the amount of conversion work needed on the 80,000 capacity athletics stadium, designed by Populous, had ruled out a switch in time for the start of the 2014/15 football season. He added: “2014 is completely out. It will be August 2015 at the earliest, possibly August 2016.”
And he said that marrying the athletics track – which is due to host the 2017 World Athletics Championship – with a winter sport such as football had raised issues over seating positions, roof coverage and hospitality. “It is a challenge,” he admitted.
A preferred bidder was due to be announced last month but this has now slipped - possibly into next year. “We don’t want to make a decision that we regret in five years,” Hone added. “[The stadium] achieved iconic status in the nation’s hearts.”
Hone said most of the Legacy Corporation’s expenditure during the bidding process has so far been spent on design options for the stadium.
“The stadium was built primarily as a bowl for athletics,” he said. “We’re looking at value for money [from the bids] and how they work singularly or in combination. We haven’t taken any proposition to the market about re-engineering.”
Hone also admitted it was not certain it would choose one of the four bids on the table at the moment. “If the bidders were to change their requirements we could use it as it is. We could have a stadium open for summer use in 2014.”
A summer-use stadium would mean conversion costs would fall dramatically from the estimate of £160 million that BD reported back in September. “You wouldn’t have to spend much money,” Hone added.
And he said whether it decided to go with one of the four bidders or ditch them all completely, it would have to appoint an operator.
The LLDC had been talking to stadia operators including Live Nation, which was behind this summer’s Bruce Springsteen concert in London’s Hyde Park, and O2 operator AEG. It has had discussions with NFL American Football clubs as well.
Hone added: “We’ve talked to them about how they operate stadiums in America. But we’ve had not formal bids from American Football about going into the stadium.”
A version of this story first appeared in Building’s sister publication Building Design here.