London mayor orders probe into rocketing costs of West Ham stadium

London mayor Sadiq Khan has ordered an independent inquiry into the rising conversion costs for the former Olympic Stadium that is now home to West Ham United, after it was revealed by Sky News that the bill had jumped by a further £51m to £323m.

Khan slammed his Conservative predecessor Boris Johnson, saying this week that the finances of the London Stadium had been left in a “total and utter mess by the previous administration” as the cost of the conversion soared ever higher.

The increase, which is being partly blamed on extra outlay for 21,000 retractable seats which are needed to convert the stadium into “football mode”, takes the overall cost of the stadium to £752m.

Deputy London mayor Jules Pipe told Sky News: “Last year the previous administration told the public that the costs had risen in total to around £270m. The new mayor has now been told that cost will be over £320m. Understandably, Sadiq has ordered an investigation as to why those two figures are so wildly different.

“As the new administration at City Hall clearing up the mess of the previous administration, we need to make sure that the stadium runs on a sustainable basis and it is affordable to London.”

West Ham are now the anchor tenants in the stadium during the football season as a result of a deal in which they pay a basic £2.5m a year in rent. The football club contributed £15m towards the overall conversion costs of the stadium with the rest mainly met by the taxpayer.

The conversion of the stadium to football use has been beset by controversy. The cost was originally forecast at £154m but that rose to £193m due to complications with the roof and was finally settled at £272m last year. The overall conversion cost is now projected to be £323m, with newly discovered issues regarding the retractable seats thought to be part of the reason for the rise.

Some reports suggest that the cost of the seats has rocketed from £300,000 to around £8m and the announcement of the mayor’s inquiry is sure to put the finances and running of the stadium under further scrutiny at a time when some experts have claimed that it is unfit for purpose as a football stadium.

West Ham currently use the facility as part of a 99-year tenancy agreement under terms that also allow athletics, concerts and other sports to take place in the stadium. The costs of operating the stadium are met by a special purpose vehicle owned by the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council. The operation of the stadium has been subcontracted to the French company Vinci.

Newham Council say that the independent review announced by the London mayor will also report jointly to the council. “I fully support the mayor of London’s call for an independent review into the cost overruns of the London Stadium’s transformation works. It is clear the transformation costs are considerably higher than previously reported and we have a duty to taxpayers to scrutinise this,” said Newham mayor, Sir Robin Wales. “As co-owners of the stadium, the review will report back to Newham Council and the GLA,” Wales said.

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