Olympic sceptics should raise the white flag says Boris Johnson, as iCITY signs £1billion media centre contract
PUBLISHED: 16:33 20 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:37 20 May 2013
The "single most difficult thing to pull off" in terms of Olympic legacy, according to London Mayor Boris Johnson, was cracked last week, when a billion pound deal to secure the future of the £295m taxpayer-funded Olympic media centre was signed, with a promise of 4,500 jobs and a Tech City legacy.
After a year of legal wrangling, iCITY signed the contract to run the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and adjacent five-storey Main Press Centre (MPC) in Hackney Wick which it hopes to transform into a world-class centre of innovation and enterprise.
Confirmed tenants in the building - which will receive a £100m makeover - include BT Sport, Loughborough University, data centre services provider Infinity, along with Hackney Community College, which will establish a digital apprenticeship programme there.
At a conference at the London Legacy Development Corporation’s headquarter’s next to the Olympic Park, London Mayor Boris Johnson said signing the agreement was the “single most difficult thing” they had to pull off in terms of 2012 legacy.
“This is a day a lot of people thought wouldn’t happen,” he said.
“Finally we are on the verge of completely cracking the IBC MPC bid as it’s called slightly unsnappily.
“If you take the whole thing together you are looking at 40 per cent of that super colossal hangar already accounted for, I think that’s a stunning achievement.”
He continued: “When you add what Loughborough is bringing, you have a fantastic new magnet for technology, for sports science, for all kinds of things that will generate jobs and growth in this part of London and connect up with that hive of activity right the way through Hackney to Tech City in Shoreditch.
“What it goes to show is that the sceptics were wrong about the Olympics and as far as they still exist I hope they will start to run up the white flag pretty soon.”
Last year fears surfaced the buildings could end up being bulldozed, when it emerged City Hall had made a request to re-examine the cost of demolition.
An assessment of the cost to demolish the centre had already been prepared as a benchmark to allow comparison of the tender bids’ financial benefits to the taxpayer.
Hackney’s elected Mayor, Jules Pipe, warned at the time that a failure to realise its employment potential would betray promises of jobs made when London won the bid to host the Games.
Last week Mayor Pipe said it had been “a long hard haul” to ensure the buildings were built in Hackney as permanent structures, and it had taken a decade of lobbying.
“There were so many iterations leading up to 2012 about what the plan could be, one of them was even that the broadcast operation would be run out of the media city in Salford,” he said.
The buildings hosted 20,000 broadcasters, photographers and journalists during the Games, and taxpayers footed the bill when they failed to attract private financing.
A Freedom of Information request by website Games Monitor which claims to “debunk Olympic myths”, showed around 6,500 workers were displaced from the Olympic Park when businesses were forced to relocate.