London's 2012 Olympic stadium to be recycled to Chicago
The Guardian has learned that 55,000 seats from London's 80,000-seat arena could be transported to Washington Park in the Illinois city and used to enlarge a planned, 7,500-capacity community arena into Chicago's main Olympic stadium.
The tactic of recycling the Olympic stadium has been billed as the first step in a new approach to the games, which could become more like a travelling circus to keep costs down and allow poorer countries to play host. Baku in Azerbaijan, Rio de Janeiro and Prague are also bidding for the 2016 games alongside Tokyo, Madrid, and Doha in Qatar.
The plan could also raise tens of millions of pounds to help offset the rising costs of the London games which have quadrupled to £9.3bn. The cost of the main stadium has already risen from £280m to £496m. A spokesman for London's Olympic Delivery Authority said: "It is right that we should explore any opportunities that would recoup some of the cost incurred by the lottery and the public purse."
David Higgins, chief executive of the ODA, last week began talks with his counterpart in Chicago and said he is willing to have the same discussions with other bidding cities in the coming months.
London's deal with Chicago has become a possibility because both cities have decided to build main stadiums with small numbers of permanent seats while erecting giant seating scaffolds for the two weeks of competition. Talks have focused on how London's stadium might be bolted rather than welded together, ensuring the materials used allow it to function properly in another country and climate, and how sections might fit on a cargo ship.
This will be the first time in history that a stadium of this size has been moved.
Last year, 16,000 seats which had previously been used at the 2006 football World Cup in Germany were shipped to Barbados where they were used in the ICC Cricket World Cup. "If we could box it up and ship it to the next games, that's something that could benefit the Olympic movement," said Doug Arnott, director of sports and operations at Chicago 2016. "We have had preliminary discussions about what London's stadium design team are planning and how it might fit in. This is to do with the responsible use of materials and trying to avoid leaving infrastructure that will burden a city."
Chicago could include the plan to reuse London's stadium in its bid documents which will be presented to the International Olympic Committee later this year.
Here are the numbers:
55,000 Number of seats left over after the London Olympics
10,000 Tonnes of steel in London's stadium - it is the lightest Olympic stadium yet
7,500 Number of seats in Chicago's Washington Park stadium after the games, if it wins the bid
$0 Cost to the public purse of Chicago's bid. It is funded by the private sector