We’re just 7 days away from West Ham’s first official game at the London Stadium (temporary name). Despite great effort, the building won’t be complete by next Thursday.
Grand opening of revamped London Stadium is planned for August 7, when Italian champions Juventus are coming to London. But three days earlier West Ham United will face their first official rivals at the stadium during Europea League qualifiers against Slovenian NK Domżale.
The score shouldn’t be problematic, West Ham are considered strong favourites for the next stage of their European campaign, but preparing the giant stadium will be challenging. After all, just last weekend London Stadium hosted the annual Anniversary Games, during which the lower tier stands were retracted to make room for the running track.
Speeding up the reconfiguration
On a regular basis the operation of reconfiguring the stands is expected to happen only twice a year (between league seasons), so timing isn’t essential. But with just 11 days left between Anniversary Games and the NK Domżale clash, now the process is being accelerated. Moving stands towards the pitch began right after the athletics event.
Photo: 2012 Image Library
Some season ticket holders are yet to buy their tickets in the lower tier because three sides are yet to be moved closer to the field (east stand is ready) and released for ticket sales. WHU assure that every supporter will be messaged when their season ticket seat is ready to be booked.
For the Europa League game London Stadium will see a limited capacity of 54,000, though regular operation will see 60,000 seats released for sale. First Premier League game is planned for August 21, already with the increased capacity.
Not everything ready
Despite London Stadium’s long-lasting redevelopment for football legacy, not all features will be ready in time. The biggest one missing is what West Ham (wrongly!) claim to be the world’s largest media façade. Bright LED screens on the stadium’s outer structure will not be in place until October.
Photo: Martin Deutsch (cc: by-nc-nd)
Even with this element being delayed, West Ham can hope for a great first season at their new home, with 98 more yet to come according to lease terms. Season ticket interest exceeded expectations and crowds of over 50,000 per game should be a common sight at London Stadium, while the smaller Boleyn Ground becomes a thing of the past in upcoming years.