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Monday, March 27, 2006

Some things are worth waiting for!

The new Wembley Stadium, still framed by construction cranes and surrounded by demolished and unfinished buildings, is not something you fall in love with at first sight. When will the metamorphosis of the ‘Church of Football’ be completed and be open for worship again?

March 2006 was supposed to be a month of completion and celebration, but instead it is another month were costs are spiralling out of control while Wembley remains unfinished. The entire Wembley stadium project was supposed to have cost £ 757m (€1,1bn), but rumour has it that the final figure is likely to exceed £1bn. Part of the bill, £120m (€ 174 m), was footed by Sport England through national lottery funds, while the remainder of the finance has been provided by the government and various sponsors, such as Microsoft. However, since the project has run years and months beyond schedule and hundreds of millions of pounds over budget, the Australian construction company Multiplex is forced to pay any overdue costs. Already these costs are at a staggering
£180m (€ 262m) and are set to continue to rise. The company’s financial damages will however not limit themselves to construction costs. The huge cost and delay have already led to a dramatic fall of 16 per cent in their share price.

Furthermore the stadium is already loosing out on vital revenue by not hosting major events such as the FA Cup Final as planned. While this is now taking place in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, officials still refuse to pin down any completion date with a 100 per cent certainty. “It is still too early to say exactly when the stadium will open”, Michael Cunnah, chief executive of Wembley National Stadium (WSNL) told the Telegraph. We will announce a definitive date once we have more certainty on when the stadium will be fully ready and finished to world – class specifications”.

Residents meanwhile are getting tired of the constant construction site. Mike, 51, who has been living in the area for most of his life, is one of them. His nostalgia becomes apparent when he says. “I preferred it if they would have kept the old structure. It just seems like part of our national pride has gone missing.”

However, WSNL and stadium architect Norman Foster both believe that the new stadium will be worth all the money and time. “It is a new generation of sports stadium that will set new standards in comfort and convenience for fans”, Foster explains. “The arch is a more powerful symbol of the future than the old Wembley Twin Towers were of the past”.

Thanks to the futuristic roof structure with its 133m high arch, there will be no pillars obstructing the views from any of the 90,000 seats. In addition fans will remain close to the action, as the prefabricated athletic track will only be built over the lower seating area when needed.

Although the stadium can be used for a variety of sports and events, its primary focus will remain football. Since Britain has always been proud of the quality of its pitches, it comes as no surprise that Wembley’s sliding roof has been mainly designed to allow the grass to enjoy the all important direct sunlight to grow effectively. Furthermore it will use the acoustics of the previous Wembley as a benchmark, which will bring even more atmosphere to any game. On top of all this Norman Foster’s lit up arch, similar to Munich’s Allianz stadium, will be seen right across London.

With all the sophistication, comfort and attention to detail it looks as if Wembley can easily outshine the Allianz Stadium, which until now was Europe’s finest. Isn’t it therefore fair to say that ‘some things are just worth waiting for’?


Targeted at the english online version of the German magazine Spiegel

1 Comments:

Blogger Alan Geere said...

I like the comparisons with Munich which give this a good topical edge for your readership. Watch out, though, for quoting other publications (Telegraph); use official websites where possible as an alternative. The first paragraph sets up the piece well and you have a decent mix of facts & figures plus quotes although Mike, 51, would benefit from a full name and a few more like him speaking up too. Good stuff.

2:44 PM  

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