Reconfiguration of the 2012 Olympic Stadium will be carried out in two phases so that it can be ready in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, it was confirmed this week.
Stadium owner the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) had previously confirmed plans to convert the 80,000 seat stadium to a post games capacity of 54,000 before new tenants West Ham United Football Club move in for the 2016/17 football season.
Now the reconfigured stadium, which was designed by consultant Buro Happold and architect Populous, will have to be ready at least 12 months earlier to host five Rugby World Cup games, starting on the 23 September 2015.
LLDC chief executive Dennis Hone said he and his team had already factored in the Rugby world Cup: “We had always planned for this possibility, so the transformation works have been split into two stages to allow the hosting of matches before the venue morphs into its final legacy configuration.
“The new roof, floodlighting, pitch and permanent spectator facilities will be in place for the 2015 World Cup ensuring an excellent experience for spectators,” said Hone.
After the stadium’s final World Cup game on 7 October 2015 it will close again to allow contractors to reconfigure the lower seating bowl and re-open in time for West Ham to kick off its first game in August 2016.
Hone said: “This is a major vote of confidence in the stadium and demonstrates very clearly that our promise to make it a multi-use venue has been met.’
As part of that pledge to maintain a “multi-use venue” the conversion will also include installation of retractable seating along the longer sides of the stadium. This can be pulled out to cover the athletics track during football matches.
The cost to prepare for West Ham’s first season at the venue, which cost £486M to build, has been put at around £190M, with work being split into three packages.
Five contractors are bidding for the main contract - original Team Stadium contractor Sir Robert McAlpine will bid against Balfour Beatty, ISG, Buckingham Group and Shepherd Construction.
Construction industry analyst Glenigan estimates the works contract is worth £135M.