Where is the 2012 London Olympics turning to meet gargantuan cost overruns? None other than BP, which is going the extra mile to burnish its tarnished image.
With the British economy mired in a vicious financial crisis, many are wondering if hosting the games was such a great idea. The original plan was to convert the one square mile, Lower Lea Valley site into a new suburb, and sell the condos to speculative buyers at high prices.
Market conditions today couldn’t be more hostile. Cost overruns have pushed the budget from $4.9 billion to a back breaking $14 billion. It turns out that protecting a global audience from suicide bombers doesn’t come cheap. The East London neighborhood is so bad that “when you take the tube out there, life expectancy declines with every stop,” said one staffer.
A profusion of undiscovered WWII bombs, a Stone Age cemetery, and a toxic waste dump have also caused delays. When I lived in England I flew over this area weekly to skirt the Eastern edge of the London air traffic control zone, and I will be charitable in calling this place an industrial wasteland.
The last time the British attempted a major project like this, the 2000 Millennium Park, multibillion dollar losses resulted. But who can forget that great film Chariots of Fire, which idolized the success of British runners in the 1924 Olympics? Maybe it’s worth it for the Brits after all? Just watch that delegation from Afghanistan carefully.