Construction group Balfour Beatty has won a £154 million deal to transform London’s Olympic stadium into the venue that will become the permanent home of English Premier League club West Ham United.
The stadium will also be used to host five matches during next year’s Rugby World Cup, before West Ham relocates there from Upton Park in 2016.
Balfour Beatty, which built the aquatics centre for the 2012 London games, said work at the site will begin early this year and yesterday’s deal includes a £41m contract to build a roof for the stadium, which will become the UK’s national site for athletics.
West Ham won the 99-year lease for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after fighting off rival bids from fellow top-flight club Tottenham Hotspur and League One outfit Leyton Orient.
The club will contribute £15m towards the conversion costs, with £40m coming from Newham Council. The UK government has agreed to provide further funding of up to £25m if needed.
Balfour Beatty chief executive Andrew McNaughton said: “During construction, our firm commitment to the use of local labour and the creation of apprenticeships will continue to benefit the local community and the wider industry.
“Upon completion, the stadium will provide a first-class sporting and cultural facility for many generations to come.”
At the peak of construction activity, up to 400 people will be employed at the site, and McNaughton said the firm was committed to providing apprenticeships amounting to 7 per cent of the total workforce.
Analysts said the Olympic park revamp will provide a boost for Balfour Beatty after it suffered a 70 per cent slump in half-year profits following a combination of a weak construction sector, a lack of major infrastructure work and a challenging market in Australia, where the firm has a large presence.
Underlying pre-tax profits for the year to 28 June tumbled to £45m, from £150m a year earlier, and the group subsequently sold its facilities management business to French utility GDF Suez for £190m to focus on infrastructure projects.
As well as the aquatics centre, which Balfour Beatty is converting into a facility for local communities, the group completed a £150m package of roads and bridges for the London games.
The £429m Queen Elizabeth venue played host to a number of notable British successes during the Olympics, including two gold medals for runner Mo Farah and victory for Jessica Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon.
In July, the stadium’s operators – Newham Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) – agreed a deal that will see UK Athletics given full use of the arena every July for the next 50 years.
LLDC chief executive Dennis Hone said yesterday that the 60,000-seat arena will represent a “truly remarkable legacy” in the east of London. He added: “We go into 2014 on track to deliver a world class venue that, when it fully opens in 2016, can be used year round to host a whole range of sporting, cultural and community events.”