What a busy month in the world of West Ham’s new home from next August. We got our first look at the £17m retractable seating when the Barbarians played against Samoa at the end of August. And in September, we got to the see the new magnificent kop-style east stand fully completed and full of 20,000 fans for the Rugby World Cup matches of France v Romania and New Zealand v Namibia
More than 100,000 supporters packed those Rugby World cup games at Stratford and it showed the fans who went and the millions more who watched on TV, the possibilities that await West Ham next year. Even anti-move campaigner Nigel Kahn of campaign group WHUSVIEW went to a rugby game and was forced to admit that the views from the upper east stand were good and the atmosphere wasn’t too shabby either, although he called it a sanitised version of football.
While everyone seemed to love the 20,000 east stand, most Hammers hate each time the word kop is mentioned by the club in official communications because it reminds them of Anfield, although it is not exclusively a Liverpool term. Suggestions to name the stand officially or unofficially include The Chicken Run and The Boleyn Wall together with a petition to name it the Billy Bonds stand in honour of the West Ham legend with the most appearances in a Hammers shirt.
The only small gripes of Hammers fans that attended the rugby to experience the re-built stadium was the 30 minutes it took to get from the station to stadium with many describing the routes to the stadium as an afterthought by organisers and planners. It appears the food, drink and toilets have all dramatically improved since the athletics anniversary games in the summer and the only complaint was the ugly gaps left between the upper and lower stands behind the goals.
West Ham plan to add Claret and Blue sails to cover these gaps. Still to come after the Rugby World Cup is the chucking out of the black seats for the claret and blue ones paid for the club but as some fans point out, this is a waste of millions because you won’t see them when the stadium is full. The £7m hospitality areas will be finished and West Ham branding will be added together with a new LED wrap around the outside of the stadium to complete the WestHamification of the stadium .
The naming rights will also be announced shortly after the Rugby World Cup but West Olympic Stadium Rugby World Cup gives a hint of the future in our new home Hammers fans get first taste of Olympic Stadium in football mode SEAN WHETSTONE @westhamfootball Chicken run? The Olympic Stadium has a huge new East Stand Ham are unlikely to see any share of that deal. I understand the Hammers have a right of veto if the sponsor doesn’t match their values or the naming rights company could potentially harm the West Ham brand. Technically it can’t be called the Olympic Stadium anymore anyway because of licensing rights by the IOC.
It is officially known as ‘The Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’ so don’t let me catch you calling it the Olympic Stadium. One group who remain unhappy with the converted stadium are the 14 supporters’ trusts who set-up a petition to demand a public inquiry into the government’s deal with West Ham for the rental of the stadium.
That petition for an inquiry was rejected by the government but they were successful in their complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as to why the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) blacked out all the important details of the agreement when they released it after a Freedom of Information request by the Charlton Athletics Supporters’ Trust. This request spawned an article by Owen Gibson in the Guardian, which in turn led to the BBC documentary ‘How the Hammers stuck gold’. This led to it becoming a political issue.
Following the ICO ruling, the LLDC have to either release the agreement in full or appeal the decision. The funny thing is most of the detail is already in the public domain and I am told certain hidden clauses mean the deal is not as good for West Ham as some other club’s supporters groups would have us believe.
I understand West Ham will pay £2.5 million in rent for the use of the stadium on just 25 match days a year, should they need it on more occasions they will have to fork out another £100,000 per day! This is on top of the £15m contribution it will make to the £272m conversion costs. The rent is index linked over 99 years with a rent reduction of 50 per cent should West Ham be relegated. West Ham will receive between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the net profit of catering rights and nothing from the naming rights, at least in the short term .
I think the LLDC should publish the agreement and be damned. This wasn’t of West Ham’s doing, we entered a fair competition scrutinised by European tender law. We won fair and square and paid the market rate. Let’s be honest, it would have been a white elephant without West Ham. We all know it is better to own a stadium than rent it but I still believe it will be great home for West Ham and will help us move on to the next level.