Talking Point

During recent conversations with fellow West Ham fans it became apparent to me that many had an expectation that the seats in the transformed Olympic Stadium would be Claret and Blue. This is not the case as the seats will remain black and white as they did throughout the London Olympics of 2012 as pictured below from the 2013 submitted planning documentation.

The official planning documentation makes it clear that the upper tier seats will remain black and white and that any new seats procured for the lower tier must be purchased to the same specification of the existing black and white seat units, and must be arranged to blend into the existing Olympic ‘fragment’ pattern. There will actually be 60,000 permitted seats within the transformed Olympic Stadium but 6,000 will be screened off in football mode to comply with UEFA category 4 stadium standards.The maximum capacity for concert events will grow to 80,000 people although this will vary depending on stage size and positions.

What is not clear is what will happen to the other 8,000 seats in the upper tier. The Olympic Stadium was built with a capacity of 80,000 made up of 25,000 in the lower tier and 55,000 in the upper tier. We know the lower tier will reduce to 19,000 because of the design of retractable seating but the upper tier will remain largely unchanged meaning it must reduce to 41,000 seats to make the 60,000 seats limit defined in the planning permission. In reality this could mean up to 14,000 seats that need to be removed or screened off in total in the upper tier. In the match segregation section of the planning documentation it shows how West Ham must allocate 15% of the 54,000 seats to away fans if we remain in the Premier league meaning we could see up to 8,100 away fans at our home matches. It indicates that the away fans will have a vertical segregated section which includes both the upper and lower retractable tiers. I was hoping the away fans would be stuck up in the gods like Newcastle but this does not appear to be the case. The 15% zone is clearly marked in the diagram at the bottom of this article.

Although I know the colour of seats might bother some people, personally it doesn’t bother me as long as there is claret and blue and West Ham branding elsewhere in the stadium. When I looked at my faded seat in the Sir Trevor Brooking last Tuesday night it didn’t look very claret in colour to me. Many years ago the seats were wooden at the Boleyn. A fellow SAB member on the Stadium Match Day experience group suggested the club told them that the colour of the seats has yet to be determined. This planning documentation approved last year appears to say otherwise and so appears wishful thinking on the club’s part.

I have shared this information in the spirit of transparency for our impending Olympic Stadium move but remain firmly up for the move despite the issues.

The sections below are straight from planning documents published in March 2013.

Seating Appearance

To achieve the transformed seating bowl, repositioning of the seats will be required, particularly for the upper tier former press areas, as mentioned above, and also to suit the revised allocations of hospitality and general admission seating on the west side. It is intended that existing seat stocks will be reused and repositioned, and some new seats will be procured to the same specification of the existing black and white seat units, and be arranged to blend into the existing ‘fragment’ pattern.

Seating Standards

The seating standards established for the Games mode stadium will be retained, with ‘best practice’ 800 mm deep tread depths on the lower and upper tiers and seats spaces at a minimum 480 mm centres. Seating allocations for hospitality guests on the lower, mid and upper west stand tiers will be set at a minimum of 600 mm centres, with some tread depths on the mid-tier set at 850 mm.The new west stand mid-tier will have super-riser platforms to the wheelchair accessible and amenity seating areas. Th e new private suites will have two rows of seats in front of the glass enclosure, raised to a super-riser condition above the three rows of hospitality seats in front. For the Games mode scheme, all spectator seats were designed to achieve a minimum C-60 sightline standard for the athletics event. This sightline parameter will be maintained for all seats in the stadium transformation in athletics mode; although there is a change in focal point for rectangular pitch sports . The moving tier configurations maintain the sightline to a minimum C-60, with approximately 90% of the 54,000 capacity allocation exceeding aC-90 standard.It should be emphasised that the sightline calculation is a diagrammatic abstraction of the view characteristics, taken perpendicular to the FOP focal point, and that diagonal views out across the arena generally improve as the head turns.The accessible seating strategy for the transformed stadium is largely unchanged from the Games mode, with wheelchair accessible viewing positions to the back of the lower tier, back of the mid-tier, and front of the west stand upper tier.Wheelchair user viewing platforms are inserted into the tiers, and generally laid out as a pair of wheelchair spaces each with an adjacent companion seat. The companion seats will match the design and quality of the adjacent seating standard. Amenity seats, located close to vomitories will also be provided and have a wider seat spacing than the standard seats. Amenity seats are provided to all sides in the lower tier bowl, at the back of the mid-tier, and at the front of the upper tier in the weststand. Where there is lift access in the east stand, amenity seats are provided forward of the adjacent tier vomitory positions. For further detail on the provision, types and potential for accessible seating please refer section 9.4 of this document.

Match Segregation

If the stadium is used for football league, premier league or international matches, then spectators may need to be physically separated into segregation groups. Th e percentage of seating required for the away supporters will vary from a minimum of 5% for football league, 15% for premier league, and 50% for international matches. In order to allow for away spectators to enter separately and have separate coach drop-off facilities, a new set of stairs and lift are proposed to the southern edge of the podium, connecting to the multi-purpose south parking area. This allows for separate access to, and egress from, the podium in all match modes. Should the venue be used for Champions League or similar international events, then the segregation zones can be extended to a 50% capacity division, by the introduction of a third segregation boundary to the east side of the bowl. Segregation barriers will be used in the seating bowl and internal concourses.

The full set of documents can be downloaded and viewed from Newham from HERE