Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Annex C

Preparation time for hosting athletics at the New Wembley Stadium

  The evidence given to the committee which referred to a six month preparation time for athletics was based on the proposal to use a concrete construction for the athletics deck which had been considered up to that time. Since the last Select Committee meeting, the concrete platform proposal has been superseded by a proposal to use a steel-based modular system with a lay-in concrete tray. This is significantly faster to install.

  It is important to understand that for a major athletics event, such as a World Athletics Championships, any stadium would be expected to be handed over to the athletics event owner who would carry out a specific event overlay. In addition to the preparation of the athletics arena the stadium has to be adapted to accommodate the specific technical requirements of the event owner. This includes accommodation and facilities for athletes, officials, media and VIP guests.

  The time taken to install an athletics platform should be considered as only a part of the overall stadium preparation works required before a major athletics event. Typically a period of some three months is required for the event owner to carry out necessary overlay works within a stadium which is already in athletics configuration. The time required to install an athletics platform would therefore be additional to this time.

  Danco Plc, a company specialising in event related temporary structures, was asked to carry out a feasibility study on the installation of the athletics platform based on a prefabricated modular steel system. Danco have recently been responsible for the installation of heavy duty platforms at major events. They were recently responsible for decking over Trafalgar Square for a concert within three days. Based on the Wembley design, Danco concluded that the installation of the base platform for athletics could be carried out within six weeks including a two week contingency. They further estimated that the removal of the platform would take four weeks.

  Based on Danco's feasibility study it is estimated that the total time required to convert Wembley for a major athletics event is now four and a half months. This compares to the previous six months estimate for the concrete deck, and three months for a conventional athletics stadium. Clearly, were the new Wembley to open in its athletics configuration the stadium the platform would already be installed and therefore no conversion time needed.

  The estimated add-on cost for installing the base platform is £6 million. A platform for warm up track outside the stadium would cost an estimated £4 million. (Costs include contingencies.)

  Whilst World Stadium Team has not been in a position to report the idea of the faster steel based platform construction directly to the Secretary of State, the proposal has been in the public domain since June 2001 as part of the Foster and Partners exhibition at the British Museum (seen by over 1,000,000 visitors).


  WST have been advised by Danco that the cost of constructing a prefabricated platform capable of hosting athletics within the new Wembley would be approximately £5 million. A platform for a warm up track in the existing car park would cost £3 million. It would be prudent to add £1 million contingency to each platform in their first use.

  This is only the cost of the platform structure. Additional costs would include laying the track sub-base and track surface on each of these platforms and installing timing equipment. We estimate these as being £2.5 million for the stadium track and £2 million for warm-up platform in Wembley. These costs are not however necessarily unique to Wembley. For any stadium venue hosting a major athletics championship it is regular practice to install a new track and, particularly, new timing equipment. It is likely therefore that these costs would have to be factored into the preparation of any stadium which was not built specifically for a major event.

  The preparation of the track is only one of the event specific costs associated with staging major events. In total we envisage the costs of staging a major athletics championship at Wembley as circa £20 million of which £10 million is directly associated to the installation of two platforms (assuming the warm up track was also constructed on a platform outside the stadium).

Stadium platform
£5m (+£1m initial contingency)
Warm-up track platform outside stadium
(if required)
£3m (+£1m contingency)
£10m platform costs
Stadium track sub-base
Stadium track surface
Stadium timing equipment
Warm-up sub-base
Warm-up track surface
Event facilities
(athletes, officials, media etc)
£20m total event costs


  The scheme currently drawn for the athletics deck has been designed to achieve the minimum required capacity of 65,000 without the need to construct any temporary tiers over the lower seating tier. This is considered to provide the most cost effective way of achieving the required capacity.

  Should any athletics event organiser wish to achieve even better sightlines for athletics spectators, this could be achieved by raising the level of the athletics deck up closer to the level of the lower concourse. This would have the effect of improving "C"—values for all spectators. By raising the level of the deck, however, the minimum capacity of 65,000 may only be achieved by using temporary seating tiers over the lower bowl and will, therefore be less cost effective than the base 65,000 scheme as drawn.

  For capacity requirements significantly above 65,000 it is necessary in any case to use temporary seating over the lower bowl. Therefore there would be no cost penalty in raising the level of the athletics deck to achieve improved "C"-values. There would, however be a reduction in the maximum potential capacity of the stadium for athletics. For example, by raising the level of the athletics deck by approximately 750 mm, "C"-values for athletics can be increased for all spectators although the maximum potential athletics capacity would reduce to approximately 75,000 with temporary tiers over the lower bowl.

  The choice of athletics deck level does not change in any way the design geometry of the permanent seating bowl and so it can be made on a per event basis depending on the event organiser's preference.

  (It is worth noting that the IOC state that they have a preferred minimum capacity of 75,000 for the opening and closing ceremonies whilst they have no stated minimum requirement for athletics.)

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Prepared 20 November 2001