Olympic Stadium conversion underway!

West Ham United players and staff had a taste of the exciting future that awaits them when they joined Board members for a ground-breaking event at the Olympic Stadium.

The Hammers' visit marked the start of the construction work that will see the UK's most-iconic venue begin its transformation into a world-class, 54,000-seater UEFA Category Four football Stadium.

Joint-Chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold, Vice-Chairman Karren Brady, manager Sam Allardyce, his coaching staff and entire first-team squad including the likes of Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll and Winston Reid all had the chance to say farewell to the Olympic Stadium as we know it following the huge success of the London 2012 Games.

Olympic Stadium

The Hammers acquaint themselves with their future home

The historic occasion also marked the beginning of the next phase for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's jewel in the crown and in West Ham United's journey to Stratford.

The event followed a presentation by the Vice-Chairman on the plans and programme for the multi-million pound conversion.

The Joint-Chairmen lauded another considerable step on the path to making the iconic venue the Hammers' home.

"This is the most tangible landmark yet of our move to Stratford and we are both thrilled to finally see the conversion process begin," they said.

"It is fantastic to mark this occasion with those who will play such a key role in the Stadium's future - West Ham United's players and staff.

"We will be playing at a state-of-the-art, UEFA Category Four Stadium and it's going to be fantastic to see it gradually begin to take shape.

"Though this is just the beginning, it is yet further evidence of our commitment to delivering a world-class facility and a lasting Olympic legacy in east London."

The stunning conversion, to be managed by the E20 Stadium LLP, will see the existing athletics field removed to enable cranes to start the installation of an innovative tensile roof, twice the size of the original.

At 84m, the atmospheric, transparent structure is set to become the world's largest of its kind and is scheduled to be in place for spring 2015, prior to final preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

In addition to improving the already famed acoustics, the Stadium's new roof will cover every single seat and provide an opportunity to lock in the world-renowned atmosphere for which the Hammers' supporters are famous.

Concessions, toilets, turnstiles, hospitality areas and a new playing surface will then be added to change the Stadium into a world-class arena more traditionally associated with elite football stadia across the globe.

The Stadium will play host to five Rugby World Cup fixtures in September and October 2015, which will undoubtedly further consolidate its international status.

After the conclusion of the tournament, attention then turns to the innovative retractable seating, a model to be deployed on all four sides of the ground to ensure fans are brought closer to the action on the pitch.

The seats, which will enable the lower bowl to be protracted and retracted as befitting the occasion, will be finished by early 2016 before the Hammers kick-off the new football season in August that year.