Work on London’s Olympic Stadium completed
Construction on the flagship stadium for the 2012 London
Olympics was completed Tuesday when the last patch of turf was laid
on the grass infield of the 80,000-seat venue.
The $777 million Olympic Stadium was finished under budget and
three months ahead of schedule – less than three years after work
began in May 2008 and 16 months before the opening ceremony on July
”In some previous games we were struggling to have a stadium
ready for the opening,” IOC executive board member Denis Oswald
told The Associated Press. ”Here, more than a year ahead of the
games, now it’s ready and we could nearly compete tomorrow. This is
very encouraging and very satisfactory.”
The stadium, which will host the track and field competition and
opening and closing ceremonies, is the centerpiece of the overall
$14.8 billion project, which is transforming a former industrial
wasteland in east London into a massive Olympic Park.
Former Olympic sprinter Frank Fredericks used a shovel to put
down the symbolic last patch of grass on the 97,000-square foot
infield, as London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe and
others stood by.
The surface of the running track will be installed this year,
while organizers will also need to dress up the stadium and prepare
700 rooms and other facilities.
”We wouldn’t want anyone to run away with the idea that this
stadium is ready to stage an Olympic track and field championship
tomorrow,” Coe said. ”But as chairman of an organizing committee,
to be able to tick off structurally these venues is terrific. With
one year and a few months to go, this is a great place to be.”
Oswald heads the IOC coordination commission for London, which
is making its eighth visit to the city to check on preparations.
Fredericks, a Namibian sprinter who won four Olympic silver medals,
is one of the commission members.
”They have lived up to the promises of building a fantastic
facility,” Fredericks said, standing a few yards from the finish
line. ”It’s also good that they are sending out a positive message
that it is possible to do this under budget.”
After the games, the stadium will be converted to a 60,000-seat
venue that will serve as home to West Ham soccer team. The arena
will also host track and field competitions, concerts and community
West Ham was selected over a bid from Premier League rival
Tottenham, which proposed building a soccer-only stadium on the
site without the track.
”You don’t know how many votes London got because they promised
a legacy in the track,” Fredericks said. ”It’s nice that they
kept their promises.”
A light rain was falling at the stadium before the sun came out
as IOC officials and organizers arrived for the occasion. The
stadium roof only partially covers the stands, meaning spectators
may have to contend with London’s traditional wet weather during
Olympic Delivery Authority chairman John Armitt said building a
roof covering all the seats would have added ”a lot of
”As always, these things are a compromise,” he said. ”We’ve
got about two-thirds of the spectators covered. Basically it’s a
summer stadium for the games. I think it will work. If you’re bound
up with the excitement of an Olympic Games, a light shower is not
going to put anybody off.”
The IOC commission is in town amid a messy legal dispute between
Coe’s organizing committee, LOCOG, and the British Olympic
Association. The BOA has taken LOGOG to the Court of Arbitration
for Sport, claiming that it deserves a larger share of any surplus
generated by the games.
Oswald, who has urged the BOA to drop its case, said he hopes
the issue can be resolved this week.
”The sooner, the better,” he said. ”We hope everybody will
concentrate on the success of the games and not on a dispute which
does not help either party.”