Vice-Chairman hails exciting step

West Ham United Vice-Chairman Karren Brady hailed an exciting step in the transformation of the Olympic Stadium to a UEFA Category 4 venue for the Hammers on Wednesday.

Ms Brady was present at the Stratford site along with first-team stars Kevin Nolan, Joe Cole, Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame as work to take down the floodlighting towers and begin the construction of a stunning new roof was set to start.

The iconic Stadium is undergoing a process of change, which will see the new 84-metre span roof cover the entire seating bowl, and retractable seats being installed to bring supporters close to the action and giving the venue the highest grading for football stadia.

Ms Brady said: "It's a great milestone for us and our supporters to see the conversion work start to take place. We always felt it was critical, as did Newham and the LLDC, to the stadium's success that it had retractable seating and a roof that covered them, and this is the first part of that process.

"The right solution has been found, not only to cover the seats but also to create a fantastic atmosphere inside the ground. One thing we're very proud of at West Ham is the atmosphere and the roof has been designed to help with that.

"It's a very exciting day for us, and one of the other things from a community point of view is that the jobs we'd always say we'd create have started to be created and it's fantastic to see so many local people working here and continuing to carry the flame of the good work the Stadium has already done."

The Hammers Vice-Chairman is excited by the prospect of the Hammers playing in front of 54,000 passionate fans and is determined to provide a fitting arena for the Club.

She continued: "We have a strategy to do it [fill the Stadium]. Part of creating the atmosphere is that it's full. We have a policy that football should be affordable for everybody and that there should be as many entry points as possible.

"Whether you're Kids for a Quid or a top executive who wants all the benefits that hospitality can bring, there should be something for everybody at the Olympic Stadium. And it should be something that the local community can enjoy, multinational companies can enjoy as well and sit side by side.

"We have made a commitment that our Season Ticket Holders will get first rights to come. So we're confident that we'll have a policy that will work. We know that we have enough supporters to fill this Stadium but we also want to bring a new generation of people into football, those that just want to be part of this iconic Stadium.

"We have a lot of young people in our area that don't have anywhere to go or anything to do on a regular basis and we want the Park and the Stadium to be a key part of delivering that legacy going forward."

Olympic Stadium Transformation

An artist's impression of the Hammers in their new home

From a technical standpoint, Balfour Beatty have been contracted to carry out the roof works and their Project Director Stuart Fraser was on hand to explain the process of the next eighteen months.

He explained: "Technically, this is an enormous challenge. The roof is going to be taken down over the next four months and the lighting panels are starting to come down now.

"There are 14 of them in total, they weigh around 34 tons each. There are cables around the tips of the tops of the lighting towers and essentially, what's happening now is that the towers are tied together on a circumferential cable, which provides stability.

"We have to put in a new network of cables across the venue, and this spider's web of cables is now in place, which means we can start snipping the circumferential cables and taking the towers down.

"Once the lighting towers are down, we take down the ceremonies' tripods, which are at the back of the roof. They were the structures that were put into place to take the temporary cables during the ceremonies. They come down next, and then we embark on taking down the fabric of the roof, and gradually lower down the existing cable-net structure. We're due to complete late February, early March of next year.

"Then, the deconstruction is complete and we start on the construction of the new roof, which is 84 metres in depth, a very large span roof and one which will cover the entire seating arena.

"That will take a year, we will complete in the Spring of 2015, which gives a period of five months to get ready for the Rugby World Cup preparations."

On the subject of another football club being able to use the Stadium alongside the Hammers, London Legacy Development Commission (LLDC) chief executive Dennis Hone was clear in his organisation's standpoint.

He stated: "I have received a letter from [Leyton Orient Chairman] Barry Hearn requesting a meeting and we will have a meeting.

"I have read the House of Lords report and their desire to see community use within the stadium - which is a desire that we all share and are working actively towards - and that there could be occasional use for Leyton Orient.

"Mr Hearn and Leyton Orient's stated position though is that they want to look at groundshare, and his letter to me reiterates that. It goes further than occasional use and talks about groundshare.

"We've had detailed competition factors - we ran two competitions - and the process of those competitions was robust, they were transparent and they were tested in the courts and found to be so. We're not going to do anything that re-opens those competitions and we're not going to do anything that leads to a re-run."