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Anorak | You all paid for West Ham United’s Olympic stadium and cheap tickets to woo a foreign buyer

You all paid for West Ham United’s Olympic stadium and cheap tickets to woo a foreign buyer

by | 30th, June 2015

west ham stadium

 

West Ham United are moving into the 54,000-seater Olympic Stadium. If you think that’s the end of the Olympic Legacy, you’d be mistaken. The money involved is entirely in keeping with the profligate Olympic spend: the London 2012 Olympic bill came in at £9bn far higher than the original projected cost of £2.75 billion.

The newlook Olympic stadium has cost the taxpayer a massive £702m. It was supposed to cost £280m. But somehow the fees and build soared it cost £272m just to alter the place to become a football ground.

Why?

Dan Roan cites one expensive design flaw:

The stadium’s owners, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), admits the project is over-budget by around £35m. Putting the largest cantilevered roof in the world on to a superstructure that had not been built to bear that kind of weight was far more complex and expensive than envisaged – the contract was announced initially at £155m, before rising to £189m in October.

Compare that to the £42m required to convert the City of Manchester stadium after the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Given that it cost a generous £798m for the 90,000-capacity Wembley (the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff cost £121m in 1999), West Ham fans cost more per head than England supporters.

And what does it cost West Ham? Well, the club will make a £15m contribution on top of the £2.5m they will pay annually for a 99-year lease. That looks cheap.

Says West Ham owner David Sullivan:

“We want to challenge the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. We are moving into a ground with a massive capacity like the Emirates Stadium but we are selling our tickets a lot cheaper than they do. Unlike them, we don’t have the ranks of corporate fans to plough money into the club. We expect to have 40-45,000 season ticket holders in the Olympic Stadium but that won’t bring in nearly as much cash as Arsenal get.”

But…

“If the King of Saudi Arabia, I use that term loosely, or another serious investor wanted to buy West Ham, then we’d step aside for the good of the club. Like at Manchester City.”

The Hammers crave those wealthy fans. A famous venue will only help build the brand.

But first you need to get the fans inside.

Owen Gibson notes:

Never mind bubbles, West Ham executives were blowing their own trumpets on Wednesday in a PR blitz to announce cut-price season-ticket prices in their new stadium…. The move will allow them to increase hospitality revenue at the top end and fund price cuts at the bottom. Arsenal and Chelsea, the destinations of choice in London for that breed of boxholder for whom prawn sandwiches have long since become passé, will be eyeing the new competitive landscape with interest…

It is a deal that will allow West Ham to offer vastly improved hospitality – minutes from Canary Wharf and the City in a location that nestles against the leisure and shopping options of Westfield – and more expensive seats at the top end (to sit in one of the VIP 1966 seats will cost £1,100 per season).

At the same time the hope is existing season-ticket holders will upgrade to a higher band at much the same price as their existing Upton Park seat, thus creating room for new fans, or those who find tickets hard to afford, to take up the cut-price offer in the £289 band.

The option to bring children for £99 per season and offer 16-to-21-year-olds (long neglected by most clubs) discounts of around 50% will, West Ham hope, nurture a new generation of fans.

Hurrah for the Hammers, the fans’ pal. But Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, spots an issue:

“Any reduction is welcome, so two cheers for West Ham for that. But before we give them three cheers, we await to see what they do about price categories, what they do about away fans and what they do with ordinary admission.”

Glenn Moore  looks at the numbers:

Gosh! How generous of Karren Brady and the Davids, Gold and Sullivan, not previously known for their altruism towards supporters. They are slashing the price of season tickets, with West Ham’s cheapest adult season costing £289 – a reduction of £331 from current prices.

But not yet. Ticket prices next season will be up to five per cent higher than current ones. The reductions will be in 2016-17. This, says Brady, the Hammers’ vice-chairman, is because that is when the new £5bn-plus TV deal kicks in, so they can cut prices.

Coincidentally it is also when West Ham move into the Olympic Stadium which, with a capacity of 54,000, has 19,000 more seats than the 35,016 at the club’s current home, Upton Park. This might be the real reason for the price cuts and explain why supporters of other teams should not expect their club to follow suit.

“I am sure other Premier League clubs will follow,” said Brady. “I go to all the Premier League meetings and ticket pricing and making it affordable is always the highest topic on the agenda.”

Good. Tickets

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Posted: 30th, June 2015 | In: News, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink