Olympic Stadium Opening Ceremony

The Olympic Stadium at the Opening ceremony

The Olympic Stadium, in Olympic Park, Stratford, London, United Kingdom is designed to be the centrepiece of the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Paralympics, and the venue of the athletic events as well as the Olympic Games' opening and closing ceremonies. It is located at Marshgate Lane in London's Stratford district in the Lower Lea Valley. The stadium has an 80,000 capacity making it the third-largest stadium in the United Kingdom behind Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stadium.

Land preparation for the stadium began in mid-2007, with the official construction start date on 22 May 2008, although piling works for the foundation unofficially began four weeks ahead of that date. The stadium was chosen to host the 2017 World Championships in Athletics.

Development processEdit

On 13 October 2006, LOCOG confirmed that it had selected the Team Stadium consortium (consisting of Sir Robert McAlpine; HOK Sport + Venue + Event, now known as Populous; and Buro Happold) to start negotiations with, in hope to find the contractor fulfilling the eventual design and build contract of the new Olympic Stadium.[1]

The ODA received international and national interest to prequalify for the design and construction tender but Team Stadium was the only consortium to meet all prequalification criteria. The consortium was also the team who delivered the locally acclaimed new Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal F.C. Team Stadium members have extensive experience in the design and build of sports venues, including the Olympic Stadium for the 2000 Sydney Games.

On 11 October 2011, Britain's Olympics minister Hugh Robertson confirmed the collapse of the Olympic Park Legacy Company's (OPLC) agreement with West Ham to take over the stadium after the games. The OPLC announced that negotiations with West Ham, unveiled as the preferred stadium bidder in February 2011, had ended because of growing concerns over delays caused by the ongoing legal dispute with rival club Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham had not signed any contracts, allowing the OPLC to abandon talks with the club. The stadium, which cost an estimated £486 million, will now remain in public ownership and leased out to an anchor tenant following a new tender process.[2]

Structures and facilitiesEdit

File:Olympic Stadium London design.jpg

The stadium design was launched on 7 November 2007. The architect, Populous, is an architectural firm specialising in the design of sports facilities and convention centres, as well as planning of major special events.[3] Construction took more than four years, from 2007 to 2012.

As of June 2009, the stadium's track and field arena has been excavated out of the soft clay found on the site, around which permanent seating for 25,000 had been assembled, using concrete "rakers". The natural slope of the land is incorporated into the design, with warm-up and changing areas being dug into a semi-basement position at the lower end. A demountable lightweight steel and concrete upper tier has been built up from this "bowl" to accommodate a further 55,000 spectators, and was nearing completion.[4]

Exterior wrapEdit

File:London 2012 Olympic Stadium (13 July 2012).jpg

Plastic, or perhaps an environmentally sustainable fabric, such as hemp, was initially expected to be wrapped around the stadium exterior and imprinted with a mural-type design. The wrap would have been Template:Convert high and would have encircled the Template:Convert circumference of the stadium. Both hemp and the continuous wrapping were ruled out. The latest designs submitted for approval to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) suggest that rather than a continuous strip, the wrap will consist of 2.5 m-wide fabric panels, twisted at 90-degree angles to allow entry to the stadium at the bottom of the structure, and held in place with tensioned cables.[5] It has since been reported in The Guardian that a member of the stadium-design team, Rod Sheard, would prefer the wrap to take the form of a continuous video screen, although no costing for this has been given.[6] On 4 August 2011, it was announced that Dow Chemical Company would fund a wrap for the stadium, in return for being able to advertise on the wrap until 26 June 2012, at which point all advertising and logos would be removed. The wrap will be made from polyester and polyethylene, be printed using UV curable inks and would encircle the stadium. Installation of the wrap began on 14 April 2012.[7]


To allow for fast on-site assembly, compression truss and roof column connections were bolted; this will also enable easy disassembling of the roof structure after the closing ceremonies.[8] The cable-supported roof structure will cover approximately two thirds of the stadium's seating.[9] A six-month study conducted by Olympic organisers found that while no roof at all could invalidate any potential world records set at the stadium, a partial roof, reduced the chance of winds that can invalidate sprint and jump records from fifty percent to five percent.{{ safesubst:ifsubst |{{subst:Unsubst|Citation needed| name|¬|reason|¬| date|August 2008 }}| Template:Fix The roof will be made from a phthalate-free polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fabric to keep costs down.

Stadium islandEdit

File:Olympic Stadium October 2009 SM.jpg

The stadium site is on former industrial land between the River Lea (which rejoins the Navigation below Old Ford Lock), the City Mill River, and the Old Pudding Mill River; parts of the Bow Back Rivers. Another branch of this system, St Thomas' Creek, Template:Convert to the south, completes an "island" surrounded by water. Two hundred metres to the east is the Waterworks River; on the eastern bank will be the London Aquatics Centre. This "island" site for the stadium lies at the southern end of the Olympic Park. The existing waterways will be modified to surround the stadium, and access will be via several footbridges positioned around the building's perimeter.


The stadium design received a mixed response from the media, with reviews ranging from "magnificent" to a "bowl of blancmange".[10] The design was promoted as example of "sustainable development", but some architecture critics have questioned both its aesthetic value and suitability as a national icon – especially when compared to Beijing National Stadium. For example, Ellis Woodman, Building Designs architecture critic, said of the design: "The principle of it being dismountable is most welcome... it demonstrates an obvious interest in establishing an economy of means and as such is the antithesis of the 2008 Olympic stadium in Beijing. But while that's an achievement, it's not an architectural achievement. In design terms what we're looking at is pretty underwhelming." He went on to criticise the procurement and design processes – stating of the latter that it should have been subject to an architectural competition.[11] This view was echoed by Tom Dyckhoff, The Times's architecture critic, who described the design as "tragically underwhelming" and commented that the "architecture of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics will, in years to come, be seen by historians as a "cunning indicator of the decline of the West and the rise of the East".[12] Despite the criticism the Olympic Stadium has been nominated for the 2012 Stirling Prize in architecture.[13]

Amanda Baillieu writing in Building Design challenged the designer's claims that the stadium is environmentally sustainable and good value for money. Instead, it is asserted that the reality will be the opposite. In particular, she claimed that:

  • the temporary roof could not be reused to cover the permanent 25,000 seating area – given the difference in size;
  • it is unlikely that the removed seating would be wanted for any other event e.g. the Glasgow Commonwealth games; and
  • the costs involved in dismantling the stadium – and surrounding "pods" – has not been factored into the estimated cost.[14]

The cost of £537 million compared to cost of 1908 Olympic Stadium £60,000 (£5,629,148.93 adjusted with up to 2010 inflation rate).[15]

Radiation concernsEdit

In June 2010, it was reported during the development of the stadium site that it contained potentially harmful amounts of radioactive materials buried decades ago when the area was a landfill site. Documents obtained under a freedom-of-information request revealed that the radioactive waste from thorium and radium were buried in a disposal cell approximately Template:Convert to the north of the stadium. Officials insisted there was no risk to Olympic athletes or spectators during the event, but that further development of the site after the Olympics as part of the legacy programme could expose the waste.[16]

Structural-art qualificationsEdit

The design of the stadium is subject to critique by not only engineers and architects, but also by the public. Conditions set in place to consider something structural art are the completion and aesthetically pleasing implementation of factors that fulfill the following requirements. A structure must meet engineering's three "S"s: social, symbolic and scientific. These correspond to the three "E"s in structural engineering: economics, elegance and efficiency.

Scientific Due to the necessity of making the stadium useful for the Olympics while keeping its ability for longevity, the stadium is made up of different tiers; during the games the stadium will be able to hold 80,000 spectators. The base tier, which will be permanent and allow for 25,000 seats, is a sunken elliptical bowl that is made up of low-carbon-dioxide concrete; this contains 40 percent less embodied carbon than conventional concrete.[17] The foundation of the base level is 5,000 piles reaching up to 20 meters deep. From there, there is a mixture of driven cast in situ piles, continuous flight auger piles, and vibro concrete columns. The second tier, which allows for the addition 55,000 seats, is 315 meters long, 256 meters wide, and 60 meters high.[8] The stadium is built using nearly four-times-less steel, approximately 10,700 tons, in the structure than that of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. In addition to the minimal use of steel, which makes it 75 percent lighter, the stadium also uses high-yield large diameter pipes which were surplus on completion of North Sea Gas pipeline projects, recycled granite, and all building products were transported using trains and barges.[18]

Other appearancesEdit

The stadium also appeared in all of the animated shorts starring Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots of the Games as well as the video games Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games and London 2012: The Official Video Game in the athletic events.


On 12 November 2010, it was announced that two bids had been shortlisted for the stadium post-Olympics. They are a joint bid from Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), with the second bid from West Ham United F.C. and Newham Council.[19] The former bid would maintain the 80,000 capacity, while the latter would reduce it to 60,000.


Bid 1: AEG & Tottenham Hotspur

File:AEG & Tottenham Hotspur Olympic Stadium.jpg

These joint bidders had originally expressed individual interest in the venue but submitted a joint bid to take over. AEG is the company that redeveloped the loss making Millennium Dome exhibition venue in South East London into the profitable music venue The O2. When the formal bidding process opened, little was known of AEG's plans for the stadium, but they were described as among the front-runners of interested parties, along with West Ham.[20] On 26 July 2010, it was rumoured that Tottenham might be interested in taking over the stadium post-Games. The club have plans to build a new stadium adjacent to their current home, but the capacity could not reach that of the Olympic Stadium, making a move attractive to the club.

Bid 2: West Ham United and Newham Council

Following the 2010 takeover by David Gold and David Sullivan, the new owners of West Ham expressed their desire to make the stadium as the club's new home. With Boris Johnson expressing his desire for a football team to take over the stadium after the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics this seemed the most likely option.[21] At the opening of the formal bid process, West Ham were considered favourites once they reversed from their initial opposition to keeping the running track as well as planning a £100m conversion to create a 60,000 capacity venue, which would also host international football, international athletics, as well as Essex County Cricket Club, international Twenty20 cricket matches, NFL games and Live Nation events.[22]

File:West Ham United & Newham Council Olympic Stadium.jpg

Originally expressed interest:

The legacy plan for the stadium originally involved its conversion into a 25,000- to 30,000-seat athletics stadium with a sports training, science and medicine centre following the 2012 Paralympics. Media reports, however, have suggested that several potential tenants were interested in moving to the stadium after the games, among them the England and Wales Cricket Board, along with several London cricket, football and rugby clubs:

  • England and Wales Cricket Board, Kent County Cricket Club,[23] Middlesex County Cricket Club,[24] Essex County Cricket Club:[25] The oval shape of the stadium is ideal for cricket, and the stadium's projected capacity post-Olympics is considerably higher than other comparable cricket venues.
  • English 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bid: London United, the body responsible for identifying which football stadia in London should be incorporated into a World Cup bid, had expressed serious interest in also using the stadium as a football venue.[26]
  • London Wasps: It was reported in the London press and nationally that the London Wasps rugby union team could move from their home in High Wycombe to the vacant Olympic Stadium.[27] However, there was opposition from the Buckinghamshire public and some of Wasps players, as Wasps now contribute to community life and have built up a solid fan base in the area that would be hard to recreate in East London.[28]
  • Saracens R.F.C.: Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray put in a bid to see the North London club move from Vicarage Road which they share with Watford F.C. to East London.[29]
  • The National Football League of American football had been looking at the potential of a franchise in London, and the stadium has been seen as a potential home venue. The as-built Olympic Stadium would easily meet the league's requirements for seating capacity, and would have no trouble accommodating an American football field, which is about 5 metres longer than a FIFA-standard association football pitch but nearly 20 metres narrower. Having such a tenant has been seen as one of the ways that the stadium could make maximum surplus after the games, due to interest shown in the International series played in London.
  • Leyton Orient F.C.: The closest club geographically, Leyton Orient announced in November 2007 that they were in negotiations regarding permanent tenancy after the games.[30] This would allow for redevelopment of their existing Brisbane Road stadium and provide a regular use for the Olympic and Paralympic venue.
  • Major League Baseball: Clive Russell of MLB International confirmed that stadium was under consideration as a possible venue for MLB games in Europe. Although the stadium's sight lines are a potential issue, MLB has measured the stadium and confirmed it is a suitable size for a baseball game.[31]

Despite several rounds of negotiations with potential tenants, LOCOG has elected to adhere to its bid commitment to provide a legacy for athletics at the stadium, with capacity reduced to a more financially viable 25,000. However, the newly elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has stated that all parties need to look carefully at the legacy plans for the stadium and has not ruled out use by either a professional football or rugby team. This in mind, the contract for building the stadium clearly stated that it must stay as a usable athletics track available for competition and training at any time.

After receiving and pre-screening over 100 expressions of interest, the formal bidding process of selecting the post-Olympics user of the stadium opened on 18 August 2010. It was to run until 30 September, after which the OPLC would draw up a shortlist, with a view to selecting a tenant by the end of the financial year, by 31 March. The winning bidder is required to support the regeneration of the area, and retain the stadium as a "distinctive physical symbol".[20][32]


On 11 February 2011, the OPLC selected West Ham United & Newham Council as the preferred bidder to take over the stadium after the 2012 Games. The decision in favour of West Ham's bid was unanimous.[33] However, Leyton Orient complained that the stadium is too close to their ground and would breach FA rules. They claim that West Ham's plans could force them into bankruptcy.[34] On 3 March 2011, West Ham United's proposed move to the stadium was approved by the British government and London mayor Boris Johnson.[35]

Judicial review and independent investigationEdit

Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and Leyton Orient applied for a judicial review to overturn the OPLC's decision; however, this appeal was rejected in June 2011.[36] Tottenham Hotspur then appealed the decision not to have a review on 29 June 2011.[37]

The Olympic Legacy Company announced on 5 July 2011 that an independent review into the awarding of the Olympic Park Stadium to West Ham United was to be carried out following the discovery on 30 June 2011 that an employee, Dionne Knight had been engaged by West Ham to carry out consultancy work relating to the stadium without permission of the OPLC. Knight had already declared to the OPLC that she was in a personal relationship with a director of West Ham, and was suspended whilst a possible conflict of interest was investigated.[38] On 22 August 2011, the independent investigation ruled that the process was not compromised and thus the bid process will not be reopened.[39]

On 23 August, the day before Tottenham Hotspur were due in court, they staged "intense negotiations" with the office of the Mayor of London, and looked set to drop all claims for a review and be offered funding for their own stadium.[40] However, the next day Tottenham did attend court despite being close to striking a deal about their own stadium, thus allowing West Ham to move into the Olympic Stadium by 2014. Tottenham and Leyton Orient won a review of the decision, being told that they had an arguable case.[41] The review was scheduled to take place on 18 October 2011. Even if Tottenham had abandoned the review, due to being granted a new stadium, Orient were expected to continue, with its owner Barry Hearn calling the decision to grant a review "a great day for the little man".[42] It had been reported that if the judicial review had ordered a re-run of the bidding process then a clause would have been inserted stipulating that the winning bidder must retain a running track within the stadium itself.[43]

Tenancy bidsEdit

On 11 October 2011, the deal to sell the stadium to West Ham collapsed.[44] West Ham immediately announced plans to become tenants of the stadium.[45][46] On 18 October, Leyton Orient submitted an application to the Football League for permission for a move to the stadium. Chairman Barry Hearn said, "We are asking for a 25,000-seat stadium and we want to see if we can get around the athletics track. It has to stay, we know that. But can we build up, if not down, and see if it's possible to get it covered while we play?".[47]

By March 2012, West Ham was named as one of the four bidders for the Stadium. A decision was to be made by the OPLC in May 2012 and ratified by June,[48] but the deadline for submitting bids was extended. The OPLC (now known as the London Legacy Development Corporation) aim to have a contract in place by October.[49] The other three bidders were named as:[50][51]

  • Intelligent Transport Services, in conjunction with F1.
  • Leyton Orient F.C., based on a ground share with West Ham.
  • University College of Football Business (UCFB), an affiliate of Bucks New University.

2017 World Athletics championshipsEdit

London originally bid to host the 2015 World Athletics Championships using the Olympic Stadium. It went up against Beijing's Olympic Stadium and the Polish city of Chorzow. However, the stadium had to pull out of the running of hosting the championships due to the uncertainty of the stadium, due to the timing of the announcement of who would operate the stadium after the Olympics, thus gifting Beijing the championships.[52] With the issues resolved over the stadium's future, London again used the stadium to bid for the 2017 World Athletics Championships.[53] The bid was made official in August with Lord Coe personally submitting the bid a few weeks later at the 2011 World Athletic Championships in Daegu. London's Mayor Boris Johnson and the British government have backed the bid.[54] Following Tottenham winning the right to a review on 18 October 2011, just three weeks before the IAAF vote on the 2017 championships host, Lord Coe, on 25 August 2011 stated that the bid would be unaffected by the legal battle. UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner added, "Whatever the outcome of that process there is going to be a track in that stadium and that's what matters and that's the commitment we're making to the IAAF."[42] On 11 November 2011, the IAAF officially awarded the 2017 World Championships to London.


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External linksEdit

Template:Commons category

Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Summer Olympics
Opening and Closing Ceremonies (Olympic Stadium)

Succeeded by
Estádio do Maracanã
Rio de Janeiro
Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Summer Paralympics
Opening and Closing Ceremonies (Olympic Stadium)

Succeeded by
Estádio do Maracanã
Rio de Janeiro
Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Olympic Athletics competitions
Main Venue

Succeeded by
Estádio Olímpico João Havelange
Rio de Janeiro
Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Paralympic Athletics competitions
Main Venue

Succeeded by
Estádio Olímpico João Havelange
Rio de Janeiro