Legacy or lie?

West Ham set to pay peanuts for the rent of the Olympic Stadium. What sort of legacy does this represent?

Friday 9 October revealed the latest in a run of startling expositions regarding the renting of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United Football Club.

Sky Sports News revealed that taxpayers will foot the bill for almost all of the custodial staff on match days.

The news is the latest in a series of confounding stories about the letting of the stadium.

Converting the stadium will cost £272m, only £15m of will be paid for by the club.

If that figure is not glaring enough, West Ham will only pay between £2-2.5m a year in rent.

Compare that to the £11-15m per year that Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have been quoted for the rental of Wembley during any redevelopments and the £4m that Manchester City pay each year for the Etihad and the yearly fee for West Ham is all the more puzzling.
While the deal does stipulate that the taxpayer will see some return on the profits from the stadium, it seems ridiculous that such an agreement has been made in the midst of austerity.

The only rationale I can find can be summed up in one word: legacy. Each major sporting event since 2012 has had a legacy attached to it.
The Paralympics, the 2014 World Cup and even England’s recent pathetic attempt at playing rugby had an article about the legacy of their campaign.

A legacy has a lasting effect. That is the dictionary definition of the word. But since 2012, the number of people playing sport regularly has continued to decline.

Forgive me if I am being ignorant, but that does not sound like a legacy.

The fanfare surrounding the success of the games was so great that to admit there is anything but a profound effect would leave egg on the face of many.

And so I return to the peanuts that West Ham are paying for the rental of the Olympic Stadium.

The London Legacy Development Corporation – a name which in itself screams desperation – are clearly so eager that the beacon of their games are seen as a thriving hub of athleticism that they have agreed to let it out for far less than it’s worth. They plan to pay for it with public money, services that the majority of taxpayers will not enjoy.

Granted, Athens and Beijing’s stadiums are not getting used. It is better that there is some activity within the stadium.

However, to try and paint it as a legacy and an unqualified success is an insult to the taxpayers that forked out for it.

One comment

  1. West Ham will be getting use of the OS for approximately 25 days per season – the number of Premier League home games. For that, they pay £2.5m, or £100,000 per day. Additional days are paid for as required. So to talk of ‘rent’ is disingenuous. Think of it more as a venue hire fee. Hiring a venue often comes with venue staff etc included. The West Ham deal doesn’t sound such a rip-off then, does it?

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