The legal battles between LLDC and West Ham United alone has cost taxpayers £4 million already, not mentioning upkeep and prognosed losses reaching £140 million over the first decade in operation. And it's been that way since 2004...
As you surely know, London Stadium operator (LLDC) and key tenant (West Ham United) are in continued dispute over nearly everything, from stadium capacity, to beer sale, even the colour of artificial grass around the field. And it's a costly conflict, too.
Gerry Murphy, deputy chief executive of the LLDC, told the London Assembly recently: “Over the last three years, our legal costs in relation to West Ham, by the end of this year, will be about £4 million.”
According to LLDC, the company loses as much as £70,000 per game of West Ham, which is argued by the company to be caused by violent behaviour of some fans and more expensive policing. LLDC's own estimates from last year suggested annual loss of £2 million, though chairman Sir Peter Hendy suggested the operating cost is even higher these days.
The latter piece of news sounds especially disturbing when we take into account that already now the financial forecast of London Stadium shows £140 million in public spending over the next decade.
It's thus no wonder that LLDC is trying to force West Ham to contribute more towards the stadium upkeep. Even though so far the effort is only generating costs itself, just like the search for a naming rights partner.
We should keep in mind that the Olympic Stadium's story has been marred by optimistic miscalculations from the very start. When London had filed their bid in 2004, the budget was expected to stay within £280 million. By 2007 it was already at 500 million. Eventually it stopped at £486 million, but not without significant alterations and cost-cutting, like the multimedia wrap, which was replaced by a more modest solution financed privately.
Then, when the stadium's reconstruction (to better accommodate football) began in 2013, the operation was expected to cost £41 million. However, by 2016, it reached 323 million even though the proposed system of retractable stands wasn't created. For that reason additional cost comes every summer, along with manual reconfiguration of the lower tier.