The chances of finding a tenant for the main Olympic Stadium before the start of London 2012 appear slim, despite The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) announcing earlier this month it had secured the future of six out of the eight permanent Olympic venues.
Operators have been appointed for the Aquatic Centre, Multi-Use Arena and ArcelorMittal Orbit. Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has signed on to operate the Aquatics Centre and the Multi-Use Arena, and Balfour Beatty WorkPlace will run the ArcelorMittal Orbit and manage the maintenance of the Park.
The contracts include 254 full-time jobs.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said at the time: “I want the message to go out loud and clear, from tourism to business, sport to investment, we are determined to maximise the benefits of 2012 for the whole country”.
Despite the bid process being opened to interested parties wishing to bring events to the new Olympic Stadium post-London 2012, before Christmas 2011, the question of the (White?) elephant in the room – the long-term future and legacy of the £486m Olympic Stadium – is still unresolved.
OPLC spent an estimated £12.3m of public money on legal fees during an initial 14-month bidding and negotiation period and on its defence of High Court challenges from football clubs battling to become tenants, post 2012.
Now Ministers have created, according to The Times newspaper, “a highly proscriptive process” for any new potential stadium leaseholders.
Interested parties accessing the OPLC online data room have reported confusing documentation and lack of clarity in contract proposals.
Sticking points include how the stadium is branded, how any share of naming rights (estimated to be worth £10m) is apportioned and how much rent is paid. It is also not clear whether Newham Council can actually invest the promised £40m or how the stadium’s capacity could be reduced from 74,000 to 60,000 in the case of use for football.
A new round of negotiations is scheduled by legacy officials after the latest 30 January deadline, with formal bids due in by 23 March.
Chances appear slim of a deal being done before the Olympics’ opening ceremony on 27 July, according to The Times, which says that “six years after the question of what to do with the stadium was first asked, a definitive answer has yet to be provided”.
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