CHAPTER 5: THE LEGACY OF SPORTS FACILITIES |
231. As noted in Chapter Four above, a key potential
strand to the UK's ambitions to host future events is the presence
of world class sports facilities for a variety of different sports.
The majority of the venues used for the Games were existing or
temporary venues. This Chapter looks at the future use of the
The Olympic Stadium
232. One of the most significant of the perceived
"White Elephants" which have sometimes been thought
to be left by the hosting of Games is the Olympic Stadium itself.
The future use of the Stadium has been a source of some controversy.
233. The Stadium is owned by a partnership between
LLDC and the London Borough of Newham, which have established
a partnership, E20 Stadium LLP, to govern its use. In March 2013,
West Ham United Football Club was awarded a 99 year lease as anchor
concession, with football fixtures enjoying primacy over other
events. In the period June-August each year, the Stadium will
be available for major events organised by UK Athletics. During
the whole year, it will also be used for other events, including
community events, rugby matches and concerts, fitting around football
234. When the Stadium design was first made available
in 2007, it followed the plan set out in the successful 2005 bid:
an 80,000 stadium for the Games, to be converted into a 25,000
seat stadium for mixed use, principally for athletics events.
The 2013 agreement will see a reduction from 80,000 seats to 60,000,
with retractable seating to allow it to be converted from a football
to an athletics venue.
235. Lord Coe defended what might seem to have
been a change in heart from the aspirations of the bid, arguing
that "nobody went into that bidding process saying that this
would be a single-use stadium". "We needed to build
an Olympic stadium. We were committed to a stadium in East London.
That is where we had proposed for the Games to go. We did speak
... to football at the time that we were putting the bid together.
I am choosing my words carefully; there was not a massive amount
of interest, when we were thinking about what that stadium might
look like, post the Games, from football." "By the time
we got to Singapore, we had a judgment to make, and that is why
of course the Stadium was in extremis designed to be reduced to
a 25,000-seater track-and-field facility with usage for other
236. Richard Sumray argued that West Ham had
in fact been interested in taking over the stadium when he discussed
the issue with the Club in 2001. He regretted the counter proposals,
which aimed to put athletics "into the mix", which in
his view "made the whole process of finalising the ownership
and uses of the stadium much more difficult. Early on a decision
should have been made to use the main stadium for football, converting
the warm up track to an athletics stadium. This would have been
a more sustainable and appropriate use of that part of the Park."
237. The owner of Leyton Orient Football Club,
Barry Hearn, told us that "[Leyton Orient] were always intended
to be the football tenant post-Games in a small, 25,000-seater
stadium, which is obviously in the proximity of Leyton Orient
Football Club." He said that, having been approached by the
ODA in 2007, the Club turned down tenancy because the athletics
track would be fixed.
238. David Luckes, who authored the initial feasibility
study for the bid, supported the view that its use by West Ham
United FC in concert with an athletics facility was "broadly
consistent" with the approach to the Stadium taken from the
outset because of the need to have a viable anchor tenant in addition
to being able to host major athletics events at points in the
239. Karen Brady, Vice-Chairman of West Ham United
FC, told us that football and athletics would "suit each
other very well" and that a memorandum of understanding had
been written up with UK Athletics.
240. Mr Hearn criticised the investment
of public money into the conversion of the Stadium into a ground
primarily for West Ham's use, calling it "state sponsorship
beyond my wildest dreams".
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, was enthusiastic about
the deal which he said would in time deliver the borough "a
very good return as well as paying off our loan".
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the LLDC, defended the bid process
and argued that the outcome was "a good deal for taxpayers,
in that if you have an Olympic stadium with a capacity in excess
of 60,000 seats, you need a concessionaire that is going to be
able to fill it and use it and bring vitality to that area of
London". With this in mind, he said that West Ham's bid was
"the only credible bid on the table".
241. The largest area of controversy has emanated
from the argument, made to us by Waltham Forest Borough Council
and Leyton Orient Football Club, that the LLDC had not given sufficient
consideration to the likely impact of the deal on Leyton Orient.
The fairness of the bid process, which resulted in West Ham being
awarded preferred bidder status by the LLDC, was challenged by
Barry Hearn, who unsuccessfully sought to judicially review the
process. The Leader of Waltham Forest Council, Chris Robbins,
"There has been no effort made by the Olympic
authorities to see what effect turning that stadium into a football
venue would have on the Orient. That is the key point
is simple things like ensuring that matches do not take place
on the same day. It is simple things like ensuring that tickets
are not given away when you have another club a few hundred yards
down the road. Those issues have to be answered"
242. Mr Hearn also told us that the decision
would have an adverse effect on Leyton Orient, particularly for
its likely impact on attracting new season ticket holders over
"The effect of this is to condemn Leyton
Orient over a five-year period, not necessarily to death, but
certainly to dropping down the leagues, because as you know, we
operate within a 60% revenue rule, and as our revenue drops, so
our availability to spend money on our squad drops. This is the
kiss of death."
243. He argued that the impact on Leyton Orient
would be mitigated by the option of a ground-sharing agreement
to be reconsidered by LLDC. For her part, Ms Brady confirmed that
West Ham had entered its bid with the willingness to share with
other users but was not able to give a view on whether the club
felt another football club would be a feasible tenant. Mr Hone
said that Leyton Orient "was given ample opportunity to clarify
and revise the financial structure of its offer" to share
the ground but did not do so. His view was that it "would
have cost the public sector money to open the gates to Leyton
Orient for each of its games", in a 60,000 capacity stadium
because of the club's relatively low existing gates.
244. The bid process has been completed and
construction is well underway to convert the Stadium to its new
use. It is not for this Committee to comment on the fairness or
otherwise of the process, which has recently been subject to a
failed application for judicial review. In examining the arguments
over the Stadium's future use, we are concerned that the central
point is being missed: the Stadium is a national asset and the
focus should be on making the best use of it for the community
and for the taxpayer. There is also the issue of the important
morale and leadership role two successful football clubs can have
in their local community, particularly in encouraging the motivation
and aspirations of less motivated children in education. Ongoing
conflict and bad relationships will only hinder the impact they
can have on this vital work.
245. The ongoing dispute over the Stadium
has been a disappointing distraction. We urge those concerned
to think further on how the two most local football clubs might
work together, including whether any difficulties can be ameliorated
through wider community use of the Stadium, which may include
its occasional use by Leyton Orient FC if appropriate financial
arrangements can be agreed. (Recommendation 12)
246. We have also received concerns over the
design of the stadium and in particular its potential impact on
supporters with disabilities. Level Playing Field asked whether,
by lowering the roof and removing the upper tier of seating, the
design for the Stadium might affect adversely affect the quality
and quantity of seating provided for spectators with disabilities.
In evidence, Ms Brady gave the Committee "absolute assurance"
that when the top tier of the Olympic stadium is taken off, there
will be no reduction in the number of disabled spectator viewing
areas, or in the quality of sight lines, and that disabled fans
will not be moved around from one part of the stadium to another.
247. Baroness Grey-Thompson told us of the positive
experience for disabled spectators at the Games, with better access
at the venues including the ability to seat wheelchair users alongside
their families. She contrasted this to the position of "most
Premiership football stadiums" which were:
"pretty shocking if you are a wheelchair
user. There is a large number of clubs who do not allow disabled
people to buy season tickets; they can be given tickets in one
out of every three games, which means you cannot complain about
your sightline, your accessible seating, toilets or whether you
have to sit with away fans or home and away fans together. There
is a big piece of work that could be done."
248. In evidence, Lord Faulkner of Worcester
asked the Secretary of State whether she would support changes
to the licensing conditions which are attached to football grounds
to include minimum levels of disabled access. She replied that
"there is an obligation on any provider of a service to consider
the needs of disabled individuals, and I am very happy to look
more closely at the point... about licensing conditions, but for
me, goodness, it just makes common sense, does it not?"
In supplementary written evidence, she highlighted the potential
complexity of altering the licensing regime.
249. We are reassured by West Ham United's
firm guarantee that the quality and quantity of seating for spectators
with disabilities will not be compromised by the re-design of
the stadium. We hope that the Olympic Stadium will set a gold
standard for accessibility. We are concerned that by contrast
the position at many Premier and Football League stadia is unacceptable
for spectators with disabilities.
250. We urge the Government to work with the
football authorities and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to
revise the licensing conditions under the Safety of Sports Grounds
Act 1975 to ensure appropriate and improved standards of access
and facilities for disabled spectators. (Recommendation 13)
The future use of other facilities
in the Olympic Park and outside
251. As well as the Olympic Stadium, the Park
boasts an Aquatics Centre, a Velodrome and the Copper Box, all
of which are being or have been converted into their final legacy
configurations on their previous sites. The Hockey arena has been
moved to Eton Manor, in the north of the Park.
252. The Committee was shown round the Copper
Box as part of its visit to the Olympic Park in September 2013.
There we met representatives of LLDC and Greenwich Leisure Limited
(GLL), which secured a ten year contract from the LLDC to run
the Copper Box and the Aquatic Centre. Running both venues allowed
GLL to operate a cross-subsidy from the Copper Box to the less
profitable Aquatic Centre. We were told about GLL's "school's
forum" programme, whereby children from local primary schools
are invited to use the Copper Box as an initial experience of
high level facilities, with those demonstrating enthusiasm or
aptitude for a sport are put on a pathway in that sport with the
eventual aim of integrating the children in local sports clubs.
Twenty schools from the surrounding boroughs were currently participating
in this scheme and GLL hoped to grow this. The Copper Box would
serve as host to a number of events over the coming year, including
professional boxing, basketball games and a badminton grand prix,
as well as hosting home fixtures for local handball and netball
teams. The majority of the Copper Box's income was expected to
be generated by such events, but GLL's intention was to increase
the income from community use as it expanded over time. During
the week, the Copper Box was dedicated to PE teaching for local
schools from 09.00 to 16.00 and from 16.00 onwards for sports
clubs. A new gymnasium onsite was also open to the public, which
Paul Brickell of the LLDC told us already had "150 more memberships
than they should have after three weeks of being open. People
with small kids are going there after school, and people are beginning
to use it, so that will generate another sort of footfall, so
we are fairly confident."
253. We heard from the Lee Valley Regional Park
that there were pre-existing plans for a velopark and a white
water centre, both of which Shaun Dawson said had been planned
"in the late 1990s and into the 2000s". He said that
the "happy coincidence" of the 2012 Olympics had allowed
them to be delivered "bigger, better and soonerand,
as a result, to deliver a much better legacy for the nation."
By contrast, there were no direct plans to build a tennis
or a hockey centre at Eton Manor.
254. Outside the Park, the Lee Valley White Water
Centre, the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre, the Hadleigh Farm Mountain
Biking Centre and the Weymouth Sailing Centre were either developed
or improved for the Games and will all reopen to a mix of elite
and community use. The sailing facility at Weymouth has generated
significant legacy use plans, although the Weymouth and Portland
Sailing Authority told us that financial requests made to government
for financial support in attracting further major events have
not met with success.
255. The issue of community use is a key one,
and an important part of the balance with the hosting of events
and the provision of training facilities for high performance
athletes. The London Borough of Newham expresses satisfaction
with the legacy plans for the OP facilities. However, while welcoming
access to major events for its residents concern was expressed
by Waltham Forest Council about the arrangements for community
use of Olympic Park facilities. Level Playing Field told us of
the need to continue to ensure accessibility for disabled groups
in Olympic Park and other facilities; and made financial and social
cases for doing so.
256. Lee Valley Regional Park told us that there
was a trade off between participation legacy and financial viability;
it aims to break-even within three years. We were concerned at
some of the pricing, particularly of the White Water facilities,
which would cost a family of four £200 to use once. In response,
Shaun Dawson told us that they were developing community initiatives
"outside of the pricing for our regular customers" but
conceded "that we have some way to go in terms of reaching
out even further than we are at the moment. There is a lot that
we are doing that is not necessarily visible in terms of pricing
policy, but we have to look more carefully at the programme and
other products and ways of reaching out to different groups. That
is a fair point."
257. A key part of the legacy value of the
Games' facilities was their future use in attracting sporting
events to the UK. The value of these venues for the future staging
of events seems already to have been demonstrated. At the same
time, we are concerned that not enough has been done to ensure
that the facilities are affordable and accessible to those in
the local community.
258. We call for the pricing structure at
facilities such as the White Water facilities in Lee Valley Regional
Park to be reviewed. As with our recommendations on the facilities
in many independent schools, we see enormous legacy value in utilising
these facilities as hubs for schools and clubs. (Recommendation
87 Q 66 Back
Richard Sumray. Back
Q 250 Back
Q 114 Back
Q 275 Back
Q 254 Back
Q 199 Back
Q 313 Back
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Q 258 Back
Q 313 Back
Q 280 Back
Q 134 Back
Q 482 Back
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Q 319 Back
Q 320 Back
Level Playing Field. Back
Q 329 Back