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White elephants

Mar 21, 2013, 5:12 PM EDT

OLY-2012-STADIUM-LEGACY

A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth.

The most common form of white elephants these days is Olympic and World Cup Stadiums and the planet is full of them. From Athens to Beijing to Cape Town and for a brief moment London. Empty, unused and unloved venues sit and rot while costing the unsuspecting tax payer millions every year in maintenance costs.

I mention London because today West Ham United signed a 99-year lease that will see them become the major tenants of one of London’s most iconic images, the Olympic Stadium in the East End.

The Hammers have beaten out Tottenham and for the time being, tiny Leyton Orient, although O’s chairman, Barry Hearn may have one final say in the matter and will leave their longtime home of Upton Park (1905).

The clubs attendance has the chance to sky-rocket from the current 35,000 to 60,000 depending on the configuration of the venue that must still maintain a running track. The conversion will supposedly allow football and athletics to co-exist peacefully. The cost is rumored to be around $250 million which, surprise, surprise, the tax payer will probably be on the hook for.

The whole project stinks though and in my opinion is nothing more than a boondoggle. When the idea of the Olympic Stadium was first floated, ground sharing with a football team was put forward as a logical solution for the stadium post-Olympics but was shot down by the Athletic crowd.

A lot of money would’ve been saved if a handful of people weren’t completely stuck up inside their own importance.

I wish West Ham the best of luck although getting a state-of-the-art stadium for next to peanuts looks like they’ve already had a fair portion.

  1. nygiantstones - Mar 21, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    I was surprised by this. Can West Ham draw that many fans? Seems like they will be playing to half full stadiums and will lose any sense of home field advantage. I would assume traveling fans would be able to buy stacks of tickets with 60K for sale.

  2. Nick Webster - Mar 21, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    That’s a great point as West Ham currently average 30K – it would feel like a Serie A match in the Stadio Olimpico which is half empty most of the time and devoid of atmosphere.

  3. geojock - Mar 21, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    See Houston AstroDome.

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