The owner of London Stadium —E20— is still looking for a naming partner for the arena, a search that’s been going on for years.
The football field which also serves as a multi-purpose venue, still carries its original name—a nod to the sports facility’s origin as an Olympic stadium. Finding a naming rights partner is part of E20’s bid to increase the stadium’s attractiveness.
The site has already hosted several high-profile events like concerts by Robbie Williams, the Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Depeche Mode, and Jay Z, as well as games from the Rugby World Cup and the US Major League Baseball. Apart from that, the venue is best known as the home to West Ham's games, and it is also the place where the London club and its main sponsor Betway host the Betway Cup. On September 29, the stadium will also host the Women's Super League match between West Ham and Tottenham’s women squads.
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It is precisely the rearrangement of seats between events that is among the primary expenses for operating the stadium; a cost that should at least partly be offset by a naming rights deal.
During the past years two companies came close to signing such an agreement, but alas, every time the deal fell through. Given the high cost of operating the venue, the owners seem eager on finally reaching a deal. The agreement will be coordinated with the Hammers, with the club “holding a name veto card” according to website Hammers.news. While the London team’s voice will reportedly carry significant weight, the club has all the incentives to help with the process, seeing that it will receive half of the money above £4 mln.
The first close deal for London Stadium’s naming rights came in 2016 from the Mumbai-based conglomerate Mahindra Group, reportedly to the tune of £6 mln per year. In the end, the Indian company pulled out of the deal, leaving the stadium owners to resume the search.
A year later Vodafone and E20 were on the brink of signing a six-year £20 million deal which, too, fell through. Had the two parties reached an agreement, the venue would’ve carried the mobile operator’s name and would’ve brought the stadium owners some peace of mind concerning the costs of operating the site.
This marked the second time that a major deal for the stadium’s naming rights failed. Now there are hopes that the current third attempt to find a sponsor will be a lucky one. The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), to which E20 is a subsidiary, recently appointed a new chief commercial officer, Jo Adams, who’s tasked with finally bringing an end to the naming rights woes.
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The multi-level London Stadium was constructed for the 2012 Olympic Games, and it was the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies along with hosting the track and field competitions. Construction began in 2008 and completed in 2011 to the cost of nearly £700 million in today’s currency.
Following the Olympics, the stadium underwent a £200 million reconstruction which included turning the arena into a UEFA and Premier League compliant stadium. Aside from hosting various events the field continues its “life” as the football stadium for West Ham under a 99-year lease.
During the Olympics, the stadium held 80 000 people, though its current Premier League capacity is limited to 60 000 with plans for expansion. When not in use by the Hammers, London Stadium’s seats get rearranged to accommodate other events.
A 2018 joint statement by LLDC’s Chief Executive Lyn Garner and West Ham’s VC Karren Brady published on the club’s website reads: “West Ham United and E20 will now work together to maximise this magnificent Stadium for the benefit of fans, our community and the public purse. Both parties are fully committed to making the London Stadium the jewel in London’s crown that we all know it can be.”