Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Wembley National Stadium Limited and The World Stadium Team

  1.   Your evidence on 16 October suggested that, while still "technically feasible", the 39 month build time for a new Wembley Stadium made a commitment for it to act as the venue for the 2005 IAAF World Athletics Championships too great a risk. Is there any potential to reduce the 39 month period by modifying the construction programme to deliver the stadium in athletics mode (with completion for football usage coming after the 2005 WCA)? Has this option ever been assessed?

  When Sir Rodney Walker took over as Chairman there was an exploration of options for the new Wembley Stadium being built in athletics mode and subsequently converted into football mode. This centered on construction along the Manchester model of a dig-down solution to conversion. This work was carried out predominantly to explore cost saving rather than time saving. It is unlikely that there would be substantial time saving merely by delaying fit out of the lower tier. Savings that would accrue should be compared to a time needed to construct and convert ie construction time would still be around 39 months. Added to this must be the 100 day typical hand over time for a major event.

  More importantly is the assumption of risk for the defined opening event. As WNSL outlined in its evidence the last committee, it would be difficult to imagine the banking sector or a contractor assuming this risk with out a substantial premium.

  2.   Mr Rod Sheard pointed out that a stadium must be built with certain features in order to be able to receive an athletics platform. Does the revised design of a Wembley Stadium, mentioned by Sir Rodney Walker on 23 October, still include these "receiving" elements?

  The "stripped-down" design referred to by Sir Rodney carries over the bowl design of the current stadium and therefore continues to have the capacity to host a platform.

  3.   Can the construction costs of the potential to "receive" a platform be isolated from the overall cost of building the Wembley Stadium? If so, please supply an estimate (in confidence if required). Are there non-cost factors to be taken into consideration?

  It is difficult to isolate in any detail this cost from the current design. The key effect of designing the stadium to host a platform is alter the geometry of the bowl compared to that of a football only stadium. WNSL have estimated the additional cost of the platform capacity to be approximately £10 million-£15 million. It is likely that a redesign to remove the capacity to host a platform would require a complete redesign of the stadium (the whole design of the stadium being predicated by the shape of the bowl) and would incur cost in design fees, a revised planning application and time delays that would be in excess of that sum.

  4.   Apart from staging an athletics event, are there any other uses for which a platform might be employed at a Wembley Stadium?

  The platform would have no use in football, rugby league or music concerts. As these are the key elements of the WNSL business plan, there is no financial advantage to WSNL in having the capacity to receive a platform. The only conceivable use for the platform in addition to athletics events would be to give the stadium the surface capacity necessary to host the opening and closing events of the Olympic games.

  5.   Sir Rodney Walker stated that "because athletics had been removed from [Wembley] stadium's intended usage, the FA and WNSL have always maintained and recognised the fact that the £20 million would have to be repaid..." Can you clarify whether the commitment by the FA and WNSL to repay, £20 million to Sport England is independent of whether a Wembley Stadium is built with the potential to receive a platform?

  WNSL understands that the agreement between the FA and the former Secretary of State was based on the release of compensatory commercial rights rather than the specific design of the stadium. A payment of £20 million would free the Association from the obligation to produce a stadium capable of hosting athletics or Olympic events (other than football and, potentially, rugby), ie it would give the Association the freedom to sponsor a design capable of hosting a platform (the "stripped-down" WNSL design) or of hosting only football and rugby league (the proposed Birmingham and Coventry designs). This procedure could, of course, create the anomaly of a design capable of hosting athletics with minor modification but with the FA and stadium operators having no obligation to host any such event.

  6.   Sir Rodney Walker was reported in the press recently as sponsoring an alternative plan for a Wembley stadium which preserves the twin towers and incorporates a non-platform solution to the athletics/football conundrum. If true, was this being done with his WNSL hat on?

  In his role as Chairman of WNSL Sir Rodney was approached by the Genesis Consortium with a proposed replacement design for the Wembley site. Sir Rodney felt that, given the limited amount of time available to the Football Association and the Carter Review team to reach a final conclusion on the future of the National Stadium development, he was obliged to forward the proposals. He would have quite rightly been open to criticism if he had not forwarded the design. These actions should not be taken in anyway as WNSL sponsoring an alternative design to any produced by the World Stadium Team.

31 October 2001

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