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No budget set for main stadium 'to boost design flair'

NEWS

ODA CHIEF executive David Higgins admitted no final budget had been set for the Olympic stadium when he launched the bidding for the iconic venue on Tuesday.

Mr Higgins said the ODA had not fixed a price for the scheme because it wanted to encourage design f lair from competitors. In London's bid submission, the stadium budget was set at £280 million at 2004 prices.

He said: 'We're not setting a budget at this stage because we want to encourage bold concepts. The issue is about early planning clarity - costs start to spiral when you change the design brief.'

But he added: 'We will give very clear guidance on scope to the bidders. But this is not just the stadium, there are roads, bridges and landscaping as well.

'We are working to an internal budget but if all bids come in over that we will have to go back and look at our scope, although we do not expect that necessarily to happen.'

The ODA wants the 80,000 capacity centrepiece of the Olympic park to be reduced to a 25,000 seat athletics stadium after the Games capable of hosting other events such as concerts.

Contractors have until August 25 to express interest. The ODA will appoint a winning team in January, with construction beginning in mid-2008. The stadium will be completed a year before the Games in time for commissioning.