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London Stadium reveals summer’s operational challenges

Approximately £5.5m (€6m/$6.8m) will have been spent on moving seats during a busy summer of events at London Stadium by the start of the new English Premier League season, according to the venue’s operator.

The Diamond League athletics meet scheduled for this weekend will mark the third major transformation of the venue since the final West Ham United home fixture of the 2018-19 Premier League season on May 4.

Within one hour of full-time, work began on preparing the stadium to welcome 73,000 ticket-holders for a Muse concert on June 1, before further work took place to ensure the venue was ready for the Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Major League Baseball (MLB) games on June 29-30.

Lifting the lid on some of the operational challenges this summer, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park said that 110 expert workers were brought in from around the world to transform the stadium from a concert venue into a ballpark.

Clay for the pitchers’ mound and 345 tonnes of soil for the infield were shipped in from the US, while 141,900 square feet of artificial turf was brought in from France and the perimeter fencing was sourced from Canada.

Of the total seat move costs over the summer, £1.9m was spent on reconfiguring seats for the MLB games, although the LLDC pointed out that the London Series generated a surplus for the stadium, as well as contributing “millions of pounds to the wider London economy”.

The weekend’s sell-out crowds consumed more than 80,000 pints of beer, 10,000 hot dogs and 2,600 bags of monkey nuts.

With nearly 60,000 spectators, the first day of the MLB’s London Series attracted the largest crowd for an international fixture in the league’s history and represented the best-attended MLB game since 2003.

“Around a third of the spectators at the baseball games came from overseas, generating millions of pounds for London’s hotel, restaurant and retail industries,” London Stadium chief executive Graham Gilmore said.

“We can’t wait for next summer’s matches between the Cardinals and the Cubs and are in advanced talks with MLB about a new contract from 2021 onwards.”

Ahead of the Diamond League meet, all baseball overlay was removed within four days, while the armour-deck floor protecting the athletics track and field of play was lifted, with a new grass pitch sown alongside the installation of runways and pits for long-jump, triple-jump and high jump.

Following the conclusion of the athletics event, the stadium’s operator will have 10 days to prepare for West Ham’s pre-season friendly against Spanish LaLiga club Athletic Bilbao on August 3 before the opening home Premier League match of the 2019-20 season against defending champion Manchester City the following weekend.

Image credit: James Robinson (provided by CSM)