sports gazette

The London Stadium: A Work in Progress

Published: 15 Nov 2016

Sports Gazette sampled the experience at the hotly-debated London Stadium when it hosted rugby league for the second time in its history on Sunday.

England v Australia; round three of the Four Nations. This was the event on show at the London Stadium on Sunday.

The stadium, build for the London 2012 Olympics, became the home of West Ham United FC in April but the reviews since the takeover have not been good.

Eggert Magnusson, former Hammers chairman, called for his former team's new home to be torn down and rebuilt, arguing it was not fit for footballing purposes.

Current West Ham chairman David Sullivan, writing on the club website, responded: “I was disappointed to read some irresponsible and, quite frankly, incorrect comments by Magnusson.

“We appreciate that the Stadium is not yet perfect, but we have solved many of the initial issues we faced and are working closely with our fellow stakeholders to find solutions to those which remain outstanding.”

The London Stadium's purpose is not purely for football. It is set to host the IAAF World Championships next August alongside other sporting events and music concerts.

I went to this much-debated stadium on Sunday to watch the Four Nations match. Based on what I had read, I went into the day with an open mind.

At Stratford station, it was a good start: a clearly organised flow of people heading towards the stadium, past the beautiful Aquatics Centre and Orbit Tower.

I passed on the array of food and drink vans available. There are enough reviews consistently expressing their shock at the expensive prices but this is a separate issue.

Then the real problem came: collecting my ticket.

The queue for ticket collection started at the lone Ticket Office on the south side and ended at the Orbit Tower. I started queuing at 1:30pm and finished at 2pm.

The security team attempted to get the queue moving by opening new windows. Why this was not done at the start is a mystery and indicates a lack of organisation.

By the time I got into the stadium, I had missed five minutes of the action.

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There are two ways of looking at the London Stadium situation: as a West Ham fan, who turns up regularly, and fans of events, seeking that unique experience.

This experience makes one consider whether this is the same for West Ham fans who come to the London Stadium most regularly.

As for the atmosphere, it was electric, in the few times England played well in their 18-36 defeat to Australia.

When the crowd roared for England, it really roared! The sound reverberated around the whole stadium, highlighting the incredible design of the structure to reverberate sound.

As a general fan of sport, it makes a great atmosphere. Yet for a West ham fan, coming from the Boelyn Ground which virtually sat tightly on top of the action, it must be day and night.

Based on my experienc, the London Stadium is a work in progress. There is still work to be done on the flow of human traffic but the unique atmosphere really struck a chord- maybe not as a sporting event, but certainly as an event.

To see the future of the London Stadium, it is best to look at the current state of Wembley Stadium, which saw exactly the same issues when they opened for regular sporting action resolved a few years later.

There are two ways of looking at the London Stadium situation: as a West Ham fan, who turns up regularly, and a fan of events, seeking that unique experience.

One set of fans may never be satisfied with a stadium that is still working on administration and is the polar opposite of their former home. The other set of fans may delight in the brilliance of the setting and the echoing, euphoric atmosphere.

Either way, both will scoff at the food prices!

Have you been to the London Stadium? How was your experience? Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter - we wan to hear from you!

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