Fate of London Stadium epitomises toxic “Olympic legacy”
30 April 2018
This is the first part of a two-part article.
Ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games there was much talk of the “legacy” they would leave. It is difficult to think of a better example of the state of modern Britain than the fate of the main structure erected for those games.
The former Olympic Stadium has left a legacy of corporate venality, corruption and graft. It has already cost taxpayers more than £750 million.
Renamed the London Stadium, it was leased to West Ham United Football Club with ongoing annual publicly funded losses of £20 million. Two years ago, West Ham moved from the Boleyn Ground in nearby Upton Park to the London Stadium in a shift lauded by the club’s board and described in the media as “the deal of the century.”
This was corporate shorthand for a deal that saw the athletics venue converted for football use through a combination of direct public funding, proceeds of the sale of the Boleyn Ground and a £40 million loan at preferential rates underwritten by the local Labour-run Newham Council. It was then taken over on the basis of a 99-year lease by West Ham, at an annual cost to the privately owned club of £2.5 million (set to fall to £1.5 million if the club is relegated from the top tier of English football, the Premier League).
Protests developed in Upton Park over the property development of the former football ground. When the private development deal at the Boleyn was signed off by Newham Council, it had provision for only 25 percent of the properties to be “affordable” in a borough with the highest rate of homelessness in the country.
The enthusiasm of West Ham’s board for their deal is hardly surprising. One of the…