Soccer exec: West Ham’s four-year-old stadium sucks, tear it down and build a new one

And finally this morning, former English soccer star and stadium consultant Paul Fletcher had this to say about West Ham‘s new home in London’s Olympic Stadium:

“Either we go on as we are for the next 30 or 40 years or we knock it down and start again,” Fletcher told the BBC.

“Something has to give. If you want to satisfy spectators the only way to get those spectators near that pitch is to knock it down and start again,” added the former Burnley striker turned chief executive.

Which, given all the complaints about the crappy views at the stadium, plus scenes of West Ham fans throwing coins and bottles at opposing fans and even fighting among themselves, isn’t an entirely unreasonable response from a guy who figures he could have done it better. Still, calling for a four-year-old stadium to be torn down and rebuilt has to be some kind of record, no?

(You could actually make an even better case for knocking down West Ham’s roster and starting again, but pointing that out would be cruel. So I’ll only do it in parentheses.)

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24 comments on “Soccer exec: West Ham’s four-year-old stadium sucks, tear it down and build a new one

  1. It’s actually a five year old stadium (opened in 2011) so it’s totally cool to ask for a new one where it would be uncouth to do so at the spritely young age of four. Besides, five is practically old age anymore considering 15 is considered on par with the Colosseum in Rome in terms of age and features.

  2. I’d say it’s really a four month old stadium. Since the 272 million pound conversion from Olympic to soccer was almost a complete rebuild anyway.

  3. Setting a low bar for crappy request timing

    Side note; the local college stadium near me actually did move fans closer to the field by removing a few feet of dirt and extending the seating nearer to the feild.

    1. I don’t think lowering the field was an option for the West Ham. There’s some complicated thing where they had to keep the stadium adaptable for Track and Field because of Olympic Legacy nonsense. (i.e. The IOC doesn’t want to admit cities are building stadiums with no post Olympic use.) So the new seats can be moved away to expose a track in the off chance that there’s a non Olympic track and field event that needs a 30,000 seat stadium.

      1. The IOC actually doesn’t care. It’s happy for one off stadiums that are never used again.

        The British government pushed for it to remain since it was part of their bid for the International Amateur Athletics Federation 2017 Championship and as part of the “legacy” project. The other major bidder, the Spurs, pulled out because they realized that the track would make it not a good stadium for soccer or rugby leaving only West Ham.

      2. I was in London and walked Olympic park last Spring. I recall seeing the construction and looking at the vaportecture on the boards outside the fencing and thinking that the viewing was going to suck for fans given the track.

        Not that I advocate re-doing the stadium, i just know that after recently watching local HS football games with track fields and being spoiled with the great sight lines at the Quakes’ Avaya Stadium, having a track between you and the action is no fun.

        1. Meh. Millions of folks have watched football games at thousands of stadiums separated by a track for about a hundred years. 30 feet doesn’t mean much when watching either form of football.

        2. It doesn’t seem to matter for many of the South American club teams, or for several Italian league clubs though.

          The idiotic thing about this is that the “track” issue was a known problem that needed to be dealt with as part of the original construction (if the “legacy” was going to include playing PL games there, which clearly it seems was the main consideration).

          Two different architecture groups had a shot at making this work. Both failed miserably, it seems.

          Why is this the taxpayer’s problem to solve? If WHU doesn’t want to play there, they are free to find another location.

  4. I disagree. Perhaps in american rules football its no big deal since 300lb players are on sidelines blocking the views. But in the rest of the world there is a huge difference in presentation between games played at soccer stadiums and mult purpose stadiums. West Ham knew this and have to live with their bad decision.

    1. I agree with you on WHU. However, the game is played in many multipurpose facilities around the world and attendance/support is not an issue.

      1. Yes and I suppose american football lines on field where soccer is being played isn’t a problem. MLB figured this out in the 80’s and now there business model is based on new free ball parks and villages.

  5. “Still, calling for a four-year-old stadium to be torn down and rebuilt has to be some kind of record, no?”

    lol. You are writing as if that guy is related to West Ham in any way.

    Look at all the NIMBYs or internet stadium critics, they often ask for stadiums to be torn down and rebuilt before they are even finished. so good luck with that record.

    1. I’ve never seen anyone “ask for stadiums to be torn down and rebuilt before they are even finished” except jokingly. Can you name an example?

      1. Hah. Well, my job isn’t to catalogue nonsensical statements about stadiums. If you can’t provide an example, then maybe there have never been any!

  6. For the first time I watched West Ham at home and even on TV you can see how bad the atmosphere was even with a packed stadium. The big kick in the head is that UEFA ranked there old stadium as the the best atmosphere
    in all of Europe. Later I watched game from Liverpool and you have to praise
    their owners who got it right with their rebuilding.

    1. Owners of Liverpool are the guys who own the Boston Red Sox. Soon they’ll be asking the local mayor for ownership of adjacent streets and air rights.

    2. Interesting! I felt atmosphere was quite good — but I turned it off because frankly the team was boring to watch.

      Atmosphere doesn’t compare to Celtic and such, but I thought it’s not bad, much better than Fiorentina and most Italian clubs for example.

      I can see why English supporters are upset, they are used to the small stadium and sitting near the pitch. But I think they are overreacting, overall it’s a good stadium.

  7. A byproduct of trying to pretend money isn’t being wasted because there’s some future use is that the facilities may not really be particularly suited to the future use. The Olympics needs a track in their stadium but that makes the stadium subpar for basically any other sport because it pushes the fans too far away from the field.

  8. @ Joe. Absolutely right. WHU helped the IOC in their crooked quest and now think the consequences shouldn’t apply to them. Well they won’t be in the EPL much longer. Their greed cost them in the end.

  9. The old West Ham stadium was a barely-renovated 19th century dump that offered (some) seats close to the field and little else. It’s “character” was mostly derived from its age and long service, and certainly not from the comfort or accessibility of the stadium. Comparing Upton Park to Fenway Park is a poor choice of pair.

    Agreed that the Olympic Stadium, for a variety of reasons, wasn’t a perfect fit–but West Ham likely has no real assets available to construct something better–as Chelsea did with its own dangerous, falling-down stadium in the 1990s.

    As a side note, the most expensive seats in a soccer stadium are typically not the ones right next to the field (as with a baseball stadium in the US) but the seats that are set high enough to offer a decent perspective of the field.

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