Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

London's Olympic Stadium finished early, under budget

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LONDON -- Construction work on the flagship stadium for the 2012 London Olympics was completed Tuesday when the last patch of turf was laid on the grass infield of the 80,000-seat venue.

The building project on the 486-million pound (C$758 million) Olympic Stadium has been finished under budget and three months ahead of schedule -- less than three years after work began in May 2008 and 16 months before the opening ceremony July 27, 2012.

"In some previous games we were struggling to have a stadium ready for the opening," IOC executive board member Denis Oswald told The Associated Press. "Here, more than a year ahead of the games, now it's ready and we could nearly compete tomorrow. This is very encouraging and very satisfactory."

The stadium, which will host the track and field competition and opening and closing ceremonies, is the centrepiece of the overall 9.3 billion pound (C$14.5 billion) project, which is transforming a former industrial wasteland in east London into a massive Olympic Park.

Former Olympic sprinter Frank Fredericks used a shovel to put down the symbolic last patch of grass on the 9,000-square metre infield, as London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe and others stood by.

The surface of the running track will be laid down later this year, while organizers will also need to dress up the stadium and fit out 700 rooms and other facilities.

"We wouldn't want anyone to run away with the idea that this stadium is ready to stage an Olympic track and field championship tomorrow," Coe said. "But as chairman of an organizing committee, to be able to tick off structurally these venues is terrific."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 30, 2011 C2

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