London: Search underway for London Stadium naming rights sponsor
source: StadiumDB.com; author: Robert Saganowski
2022 marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Olympic Stadium in London, which ‘The Hammers’ have played host to since August 2016. London Legacy Development Corporation have just taken the next steps to find a naming rights sponsor for not only the venue, but the the other assets on Olympic Park as well.
Construction of London Stadium began in May 2008, although work to prepare the site in Stratford began almost a year earlier. The structure, controversial for aesthetic and financial reasons, was already standing in 2011, but the official opening of the facility did not take place until May 2012.
During the construction process, the concept for the future use of the arena changed, for which West Ham United became the preferred tenant. To meet the club's needs, redevelopment began in 2014 and was completed just before 'The Hammers' moved out of Boleyn Ground in mid-2016. It included a new canopy, the largest of its kind in the world, as well as new retractable stands.
Back in April, we wrote on our website about the stadium's capacity being increased from its current 60,000 to 62,500 seats ahead of the 2022/23 season. With the change in seating configuration, the venue now ranks as the third highest capacity stadium in the Premier League, behind only the brand-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the capital itself (by just 350 seats). London Stadium now appears to have taken its final shape, with the attention of the club's governing body now turned towards finding a potential naming rights sponsor for the entire 560-hectare site created to host the 2012 Olympics.
However, the relationship between West Ham's officials and the London Legacy Development Corporation is tense. Lyn Garner, director of LLDC, recently revealed that she would be willing to allow the club to negotiate a naming rights deal itself if it paid her company an annual fee of £4 million. For the time being, the club is unwilling to move towards such a solution, which is significantly slowing down the progress of the whole venture. On the other hand, it seems that WHU's owners have no other option.
LLDC's approach is likely to make it more difficult to find a suitable business partner, while at the same time delaying the time when West Ham United could begin to exploit the commercial potential of the stadium and its surroundings. This is a tough nut to crack for the club, as the Olympic Park management company is entitled to receive all of the first £4 million a year from any naming rights deal. If a higher fee is negotiated, the revenue would be split 50:50 between the company and the club.
West Ham and LLDC have already paid agencies a combined total of more than £1 million since the research was launched, with no breakthrough still on the horizon. It came very close in 2017, but ultimately failed to secure a deal with Vodafone, who were offering a six-year deal worth £20 million. It has to be admitted that the London-based corporation is very selective when it comes to who qualifies as a potential naming rights sponsor. Suffice it to say that already in 2019, alcohol, gambling and tobacco companies have been excluded as candidates. The only question remains: how much longer will this whole saga last?