Friday, March 22

Stadium of light?

Finally it's over. West Ham is the anchor tenant of the Olympic Stadium from 2016. There's a real sense of sadness to be leaving Upton Park, but you have to admit the board has secured decent terms (and check out the whinges from supporters of other teams on the BBC website!). West Ham have to pay £15 million up front and £2 million a year rent, while the rest comes from the government (£60 million) and loans from Newham Council (£40 million) and the London Legacy Development Corporation (£20 million). Not sure when those £60m in loans have to be repaid, but we can assume it's over a lengthy period.

The club has got everything it wanted, namely retractable seating over the athletics track, a new roof  and keeping the ticket and merchandising revenue with catering revenue shared. David Sullivan and David Gold have also proved they are committed to the club long term and not out to make a quick profit - if they sell the club within the next ten years they have to pay an unspecified lump sum to the LLDC. Interestingly Karren Brady mentions a capacity of "at least 54,000" in her email to supporters today, which might be a more feasible capacity to sell-out.

No-one knows if the Olympic Park will prove a huge white elephant, but the fact is that in Stratford with its numerous transport links West Ham will be hugely more accessible to fans from all around the country. It's a gamble, but at is stands we're getting a £600 million larger stadium for £15 million up front and the profit from selling Upton Park. As a business deal it's hard to turn down.

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