Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2001
Chairman: Gentlemen, thank you very much
for coming to see us this morning. During the last few days the
newspapers have been filled with excitement about your plans about
which the Committee will be asking you, starting with Alan Keen.
40. The new platform. As you know, this Committee
was in full support previously of the platform for athletics at
Wembley. I have studied this, and if it is better than the other
platform it must be acceptableto me, anyway. But could
you explain the differences and the improvements?
(Mr Sheard) It is not so much a different
platform; it is just really a development of the original platform
idea. When the design as it was developed was presented to you
last time, it had been taken to a certain point. Figures were
put on it in terms of cost and build-ability and all those sorts
of things, and they are always safe things: people will just not
stick their neck out unless the basic design work has been done.
We have carried that on and we really developed the platform to
a point where it has really proven to be viable. We have had contractors
looking at it to prove that they believe it is viable and we have
managed to get both the cost and the build time down. So it is
essentially the same platform.
41. The removal time is much shorter, is it?
(Mr Sheard) And the build time. The build
time is about six weeks, we are saying now, and the removal time
is about four weeks.
42. In every other way, then, the sightlines
and everything else, it would be the same.
(Mr Sheard) The sightlines, the location,
everything else. What we are really doing is concentrating on
doing it on a more pre-fabricated basis rather than using in-situ
43. We talked before about the concrete platform
being available again in the futurenot that, as we all
know, Wembley would be needed for many athletic events, maybe,
over 20 years, one more. Presumably it would be easier to store
as well, or would it be simple enough just to take away and use
somewhere else and then provide another one when it is needed.
I am asking these questions because a little bit was made of this
in the past, that it would not be just thrown away at the end
of one athletics event.
(Mr Sheard) The original concept was
to have a solution which could always be inserted into a new Wembley
so that at any time in the future, whether it is 20 years or 50
years for that matter, you could still hold athletics at Wembley.
That is the whole principle. That still stands true. Whether you
wish to put the platform in a shed somewhere and wait until the
next event or whether you just really hire it for the event and
just wait until the next event comes alongthese events
do not come along all that oftenwould be purely a commercial
44. Could I just ask you, thenbecause
I thought that I was living in my own private world of fantasy
until you talked about putting the platforms in a shed until a
further occasiondoes that mean that it could be transferred
from a shed to large vans and moved away to, say, Old Trafford?
That is, if it is a moveable facility, it could go anywhere, not
necessarily only to Wembley Stadium.
(Mr Sheard) Yes. I mean, the very original
concept of the platform was to say ... We had really just come
hot off the design work on Stadium Australia. We saw what was
involved in having these highly expensive, very heavily maintainable
moving tiers which we have got therewhich are fantastic
but they are a huge on-cost and a huge problem just to maintain
every yearand we said, "There has got to be a better
solution." That is really where the platform came from. The
concept was at that very early stage to be able to have a platform
which could be inserted into either Wembley or perhaps even another
stadium around the country which was designed also for football
with the possibility of athletics, probably of a different size,
because you would not want two stadiums of a similar size, but
you could insert it into a smaller, perhaps 30,000 or 40,000 seat
stadium and achieve the same ends. The only thing I would say
is that you really have to design the base stadium to start with
to take the platform. You cannot just automatically insert itor
not always, I should say.
45. Say you had been given the contract for Wembley,
you would have gone with the other system. Now you have come forward
with better technology. Would you have had a facility to go, "Crumbs,
we have changed it, it is better"?because you would
have been commissioned under the old one if this had gone ahead.
(Mr Sheard) As far as the deck goes?
(Mr Sheard) No. You see, it does not
quite work like that, the building industry. The building industry
works on the basis that with the design work, the sort of thing
that people like myself in the design team do, you work up until
the very last minute, until an order has to be placed, and then
you place an order for the very best that design has got to. You
could make an academic argument that if you were given another
couple of years on almost any project, you would refine it and
tune it a little bit more. I think it is true to say that we would
not be placing an order for this deck, even if it were to be put
into place, for another ... some time, so there is probably even
yet more design development to come.
47. Given that, and given you gave us a private
briefing last time you were here and we all agreed that that was
the system the Committee wanted, Wembley wanted, your platform,
do you think there is enough corporate intelligence within the
Government that understood what you were trying to do? You know,
this is a shambles.
(Mr Sheard) I have no idea. I would not
48. You would have presented. Government ministers
and civil servants came to see it. I mean, this is the only safe
solution to have delivered the world athletics.
(Mr Sheard) I cannot comment on that.
All I can say is similar types of concepts have been accepted
by San Francisco, New York, for their Olympic bidding proposals.
When the concept was described to the IOC in Lausanne, where we
have ongoing discussions with them, they could see no problems
with it. In fact they thought it was an attractive proposition
because, from an Olympic point of view, the thing that they do
not like is the Montreal effectyou know, the sort of White
Elephant which gives the Olympic movement a bad name. So the concept
of being able to build a very useful stadium which can be used
for other purposes, and then be able to install an Olympic Games
and then take it out again without huge on-costs, they find attractive.
So I could not comment in this particular case.
49. What are the technical issues with stands,
then?given that Sydney had to take out, I think, the north
and south (if I have got my geography right). They came out at
the end. They were, what, 25,000 each?
(Mr Sheard) 15,000. 30,000 seats came
out or are coming out.
50. So if there is the technology to put them
in and out, presumably that can apply to any stadium currently
(Mr Sheard) It can, although Sydney was
a rather kind of unique phenomenon because of the way it was funded.
Stadium Australia was really funded through those 30,000 seats
because we won the bidwe as a consortium bidding to design
and build the stadiumon the basis of giving the IOC the
80,000 seats that had already been promised to them, and by building
an additional 30,000 seats we could fund the construction of the
stadium by selling off those seats in advance. So it was a slightly
unique phenomenon, in the sense that you would not normally build
a 110,000 seat Olympic stadium. They really do not need it. It
was really the funding route that caused that.
51. But the stadium company has gone broke from
(Mr Sheard) No, what happened, if we
want to get into Sydney, is we
52. It seems to me, if we are going to build
a new stadium, that it has got some relevance.
(Mr Sheard) It has got relevance, it
is true. There is an existing stadium in Sydney which takes about
45,000, Sydney Football Stadium, which is effectively run by the
Governmentit is a trust run by the Governmentand
it is in direct competition with a private enterprise which is
Stadium Australia. They have not quite got their act together
as to what events go to which venues. That is really what the
process is that they are going through right now.
53. I am intrigued as to what new technology
was at stake that came up with what seems, on the face of it,
to be a much more attractive solution for Wembley in the space
of pretty much a year. Is there anything that our Committee might
understand in that or is it just genius in your office?
(Mr Sheard) I would like to think that,
but ... it is not really new technology, it is really just being
given the chance to develop the design. I think when I was here
last, I explained that the design had got to a certain point but
that design really represented a certain budget and a certain
programme to build, which was as good as anybody was prepared
to put their hand on their heart and say could be done. Because
that is the key. The key is not believing that you can do it;
the key is getting someone to absolutely demonstrate that you
can do it and will guarantee it. Because it is very easy to make
promises; it is another thing to be absolutely sure of it. What
we have used that period of time to do is to get to the point
where we now have people who are prepared to put their hand on
their heart and guarantee that new time for that new budget. So
it is really just a development. It is no new technology.
54. What is the seat position in the new stadium?
What is the cost position of the new proposal?
(Mr Sheard) The seating is no different.
It is a 90,000 seat stadium. When you put the platform in, it
automatically closes down to 67,000 seats, but then, if you wish
to reconfigure the lower tier, you can get to 80,000 seats. So
that is essentially the same as it was before because the platform
goes into the same place. In terms of cost, we are presently looking
at total costs of about £10 million to put the platform in
and also to take care of the training track or the warm-up trackand
without that you cannot put on an event in any case.
55. So the £10 million includes
(Mr Sheard) Yes.
56. And the cost of the building the stadium
(Mr Sheard) The cost of building the
57. does not alter that.
(Mr Sheard) is not affected by
the platform. That has been going through another process of design
developmentwhich finds its way into the newspapers on a
58. You have said there is an option of an extra
30,000 seats. Does that make a difference to the time scales in
which you can put it in and take it out?
(Mr Sheard) It does. You really only
go for the 80,000 seater for an Olympic Games. Nothing else really
justifies it. And for the lead-up period for an Olympic games,
by the time you hand over the stadium, give it to the organising
committee for that particular country, they need probably six
months or something like that, so it is built into that. So, yes,
it takes longer to reconfigure the seats.
59. So what kind of time scales are we talking
about for this stadium if Tessa Jowell was tomorrow to say, "OK"?
(Mr Sheard) To build the whole stadium
we have a build time of 39 months effectively. We have a builder
who has been through it, who has studied all of the pros and cons,
and is prepared guarantee a programme of 39 months.