London today broke the world record for completing an Olympic stadium.
Construction of the landmark venue was declared finished today as the last piece of turf was laid by Olympic officials.
It has taken only 1,000 working days to complete the 80,000-seat venue in Stratford at a speed that was hailed as showing the capital’s readiness to stage the “greatest show on earth”.
The final £486 million cost came in £10 million under budget.
As an International Olympics Committee delegation made their eighth visit to the capital today to check on preparations, Mayor Boris Johnson said the breakthrough gave London a huge advantage over other host cities such as Barcelona, Sydney and Athens. Mr Johnson said: “This is yet another fantastic milestone in the preparations for London 2012. The faultless construction of the stadium, on time and under budget, is a shining example of how London is primed and ready to host the greatest show on earth.
“The real joy of being so far ahead is that, unlike any other host city, we are already able to focus on securing the legacy we are so determined to deliver from the Games.” Some work remains to be done, such as laying the running track. But this has been deliberately delayed to prevent it being damaged when giant cranes arrive to erect gantries for the opening and closing ceremonies. The Games will begin on Friday July 27 next year.
IOC member Frankie Fredericks, a four-time silver medallist sprinter, was given the honour of laying the final piece of turf, less than three years after work began in May 2008.
The IOC was given further reassurance when the Olympic Delivery Authority, which has overseen the construction work at the Olympic Park, said the sports infrastructure would be finished in July.
Built and designed respectively by Sir Robert McAlpine and architectural practice Populous – the team behind Arsenal’s Emirates ground – the stadium has employed 5,000 workers from 240 British businesses.
The last of 360 rolls of turf, grown in Scunthorpe, was laid today to complete the 9,000 square metre infield area.The running track – a blue surface by Mondo- will be laid later this year by organiser Locog. In its place is a temporary Tarmac surface resistant to the cranes that will lift into place stage sets for the opening ceremony.
History will associate the Olympic stadium with two controversies: its original bid book budget of £240 million has more than doubled though that figure was never seen as realistic.
The ODA have also been criticised for spurning the chance four years ago to install retractable seats over the running track to make it more attractive to football clubs.
Last month the post-Games future of the stadium was secured when West Ham were handed the long-term tenancy.
Stadium by numbers
80,000 seats Capacity in Games mode but designed to be flexible after.
40 acres Area of the stadium island, surrounded by water on three sides.
60 metres The height of the stands.
860 metres Stadium perimeter.
5 major new bridges into the site.
3 years Construction started in May 2008, completed ahead of schedule.
5,250 People involved in the project.
532 Individual floodlights in 14 towers to meet high-definition TV standards.
* The turf was grown in Scunthorpe and laid over three days this month.
* The track will be laid later this year.