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Wembley is not the only job with finishing issues


Sir, Having read all the bad news about Wembley I think you should be made aware of a few things about the new Arsenal stadium in north London.

Recently I was able to take a tour of Wembley as a guest of one of the contractors. Products manufactured by the company I work for have been supplied for both projects so I was quite looking forward to a tour to see whether it was bad or really bad.

I can confirm that Wembley was really bad, but that Arsenal is not much better.

On approaching the stadium it looks magnif icent and impressive. However, close up it is a completely different picture.

The first thing you notice after the unpainted rugged handrails on the public stairs to the external concourse and the roughly finished fencing around it is the amount of exposed concrete on the outside of the building.

An attempt has been made to conceal it with wire mesh, which is 'invisible' until about 10 m away.

The plant housings above the external concourse toilet blocks are visible to fans and locals and ugly to say the least. What were the designers thinking?

Once you are inside, the concrete finished stairs to other levels are a patchwork of differently shaded concrete areas and different coloured paint and made worse by the low roof. Tall Arsenal fans will have to be careful - they won't have hard hats!

The finishes are basic, not impressive (like Wembley).

For the sake of London, let us hope the same team is not involved with the Olympics, where it is taxpayers' money they are spending.

The executive boxes were not as good as Wembley but sufficient. You can see the pitch but in some only if you sit down.

The M&E services appear to have a long way to go before being ready for the first match in July.

It did not look much further advanced than Wembley three months before the FA Cup final.

The main terrace was fine and I suppose this is what the fans will concentrate on, especially as this is what will be seen on TV.

Some seats did have poor views though, blocked by handrails and the concrete upstands where fans travel to the burger bars.

I was not happy with the bad press that has been thrown at Wembley as I was personally involved, but I am happier after seeing the new Arsenal stadium that things are not much better there.

I hope things get better as I have a soft spot for Arsenal. But delivering the Arsenal stadium on time does not mean the preferred quality is achieved. It appears to be a fast-track project with a distinct lack of imagination and inventiveness.

Is it down to the design, the selection process or the build? Who knows? But I don't think it will be long before the refurb starts.

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