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Olympic stadium cost could rocket

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Leaders of the London Olympics are playing down new concerns after it emerged that the main contractor for the Olympic stadium has priced the project at more than twice the original cost.

Although the £280m price tag which was put on the 80,000-seat stadium was based on 2004 prices, the £630m opening offer from McAlpine is still somewhat higher than bid officials might have hoped.

As a result of the ongoing controversy over the government's failure to announce the final budget for the Games, ODA chief executive David Higgins and LOCOG chair Sebastian Coe have refused to confirm recent reports and figures, and were evasive at a meeting with the London Assembly.

However, London mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed in an interview on London radio station LBC that McAlpine had tabled their opening offer.

Livingstone said: "Let's wait and see what we pay after we've negotiated. Look at where we are already on the aquatic side – they came in for the big swimming centre horrendously above what we'd budgeted for. We sat down with the architects and got it back down to what it should be.

"Once we've agreed what the price is we'll expect them to deliver that, but of course McAlpine's going to say we need much more money. That's his job, what do you expect? Our job is to squeeze it down!

A lengthy negotiation process will now ensue, and it is likely that the final cost will settle somewhere in between, but the ODA's position has been slightly weakened by the fact that McAlpine was the only bidder which met its criteria during tendering, so the ODA has no alternative options.

The costing process has not been made easier by the uncertainty over the long-term plans for the venue after the Games. It has only been finally confirmed that the Olympic Stadium will be converted to a 25,000-capacity athletics venue – rather than an arena for Premiership football – in the past 10 days.

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Leaders of the London Olympics are playing down new concerns after it emerged that the main contractor for the Olympic stadium has priced the project at more than twice the original cost.
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