Over the five years to March 2020 the former Olympic Stadium has run at an average loss of £90 million a year. The football club initially paid £2.5 million a year rent and now pays about £3 million a year. It was granted a 99 year lease.
Back in 2015, in response to challenges, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said that West Ham’s bid: “constituted the best available return for the taxpayer… and the profits from its [the Stadium] multiple uses will flow to the taxpayer.” The government rejected suggestions that the stadium would be a burden on the public purse.
In 2018 the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) chief executive, Lyn Garner, said the Stadium was facing: “losses for the next 97 years”. Lyn Garner also said: “…what is really driving the problems here are the low rents paid by the concessionaires, particularly West Ham. The elephant in the room is the fee that they pay us in a usage cost does not cover the event-day costs…”
The big losses continue today. The stadium does host other events, but not that many.
West Ham United FC are not to blame. They moved into the London Stadium in May 2016. They put in their offer, and it was accepted. Rival offers were rejected. One from Tottenham Hotspur involved dismantling the Olympic Stadium, replacing it with a dedicated football stadium, and shipping the athletics out to an improved Crystal Palace.
West Ham have no control over the day to day running of the Stadium. That’s under the public sector control of the LLDC and Newham Council.
It’s just been announced that the Exchequer will pay £14.5 million for new seating, plus another £5 million a year to provide West Ham with stewards.
Getting a grip on Whitehall
An immanent review from The Commission for Smart Government will recommend that “tough teams” from the business world; “people who know what ‘well-run’ looks like” should assess government departments. The idea is that private sector managers experienced in running large projects should score civil servants on their effectiveness. They say that while schools and hospitals are assessed by independent regulators, no similar system of oversight exists for projects run centrally from Whitehall.
Imagine a world where you could pay half the taxes and receive a better service from the government!