Proof, if it was needed, that West Ham United’s impending move to the Olympic Stadium is a good thing for Britain has emerged from Brazil.
Fears that the huge stadium would turn into an expensive white elephant once the dust had settled on the London 2012 Olympics were seemingly allayed when the Premier League side were handed the keys to the iconic ground as anchor tenants in 2013.
But legal challenges to have the decision thrown out from the likes of fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur and fellow East Londoners Leyton Orient marred the process and saw the Hammers’ legitimacy to take over the running of the stadium called into question.
Just last month the club was forced to deny the deal which will see them move down the road to Stratford from the Boleyn ground in the 2016/17 season contravened domestic or European legislation and ‘categorically’ stated that it does not constitute state aid, as reported by the likes of the Daily Mail.
The relatively small amount of money the Hammers will have to pay towards conversion costs to make it a suitable 54,000 seater arena for football has also received negative publicity.
But the club has always insisted that without them it would hit the taxpayer even harder in the pocket, saying in a statement defending the move last month: “It is clear that the linking of the naming rights to West Ham United generates real cash value for the LLDC.
“Without West Ham United, the stadium would continue to cost the taxpayer millions of pounds a year.
“With us, the public purse will see a return on the hundreds of millions of pounds that were committed to build the stadium, long before West Ham’s association had begun.”
But if further proof was needed that West Ham are the saving grace for the £517 million venue, it comes from South America where Brazil’s $900 million World Cup stadium is now being used as a parking lot.
A damning report on the website Vox.com, shows Brazil spent $3 billion building 12 new or heavily refurbished stadiums for last year’s World Cup.
The article, which was retweeted by Hammers co-owner David Gold, says the symbolic and most expensive stadium, in Brasilia, is now regularly used as a site for a municipal bus car park.
That is despite officials reportedly promising the taxpayer-funded venues would continue to generate revenue for years, hosting concerts, football matches and other events.
But as news site NPR reports, most stadiums are failing to generate much revenue at all with Brasilia the prime example.
Repurposing an Olympic venue is a often a thankless task as most events could never compare to their original states of glory. But West Ham will get as close as you can get, hosting regular matches in the most watched football league in the world.
The warning signs are there for all to see with the likes of the abandoned Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) stadia offering haunting examples of how the billions spent can go shamefully to waste.
The Olympic Stadium is already promising to start paying its way, though. It will be used for the Rugby World Cup later this year before it is handed over to West Ham ahead of their move from Upton Park next summer.
Should the Hammers remain a Premier League force by then the likes of giants Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool will be regular visitors to Queen Elizabeth Park, creating jobs, trade and more importantly a lasting legacy for Britain.