The aim of the Wembley Stadium project was to build a new 90,000 seat state of art stadium. The new stadium was going to be used for a variety of functions ranging from football and rugby matches to concerts and private events. The stadium was to have a 50-year design life, and be both functional and architecturally significant. In addition, it was essential that the stadium allowed as much daylight and ventilation to reach the pitch as possible. A main goal was to have the build achieve UEFA five-star stadium status. The project was to be funded by a combination of state (National Lottery Fund) and private investment.
Multiplex is a global contractor based in Australia with expertise across the entire property sector. John Roberts started the firm in 1962 and was President for the next 44 years. In 2002, Roberts passed control of the firm to his son, Andrew. However, one of the last deals that John brought to the table before his retirement was the Wembley Stadium project. Multiplex had completed a number of stadiums prior to the Wembley project, most notably Stadium Australia. Stadium Australia was used as the Olympic stadium for the 2000 summer Olympics. It was constructed at a cost of $690 million and was able to hold 110,000 spectators. Although the Stadium Australia project was a success, Multiplex began to realize that their was much more risk in stadium construction than large-scale landmark buildings.
Multiplex won the Wembley stadium contract after selection through a competitive bidding process in 1999. The bidding process was first narrowed down to two bids, however, it was eventually reopened to include two additional contractors. After final review, Multiplex signed a contract to complete Wembley stadium at a fixed-price cost of £352m.
Mott MacDonald was the lead designer of the new Wembley stadium. They are a UK based employee-owned multidisciplinary consulting serving the public and private sectors world-wide.
Cleveland Bridge was the initial steel contractor associated with the project. They are based in Darlington, England and have a renowned reputation for bridge building.
The Old Wembley Stadium
The Empire Stadium in Wembley, popularly known as Wembley Stadium, was the most famous football ground in the world. After it opened in 1923, it evolved into England’s national team stadium for football matches. The FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United on April 28, 1923 was the first event to take place at Wembley Stadium. The official attendance for the event was 126,047, which is still the largest for any football match in England. A year later, international football made its debut as England tied 1-1 with Scotland. Since then Wembley has hosted 78 FA Cup Finals, 258 England senior internationals, the 1966 World Cup, 40 League Cup Finals, 6 European Cup Finals, and Euro’96.
However, it is not just football that has made Wembley stadium great through the years. In 1948, Great Britain won 23 medals at the Olympic games featured at the stadium. In addition, the stadium has hosted such events as boxing matches, rugby championships, greyhound racing, hockey, and even Evel Knivel. With some much history and importance, it was no surprise that a modern stadium was needed to continue the Wembley tradition into the next
The goal of the project was to create a new modern stadium that would continue in the tradition of Empire Stadium. As pointed out in the history section, the greatest tradition was football. In order to attract major football events (FA Cup, UEFA Finals, World Cup) the stadium must be built to five-star status. In order to adhere to this standards, the stadium must meet the minimum requirements in terms of the size of playing field, floodlighting, VIP parking, seat capacity, VIP seats, VIP seats for visiting team, VIP hospitality, media working area, space for camera’s, number of box seats, number of commentary positions, number of TV studios, outside van area, and press conference seats.
B. Reasons for Project Failure
The new Wembley stadium was completed in 2007—five years late, £360m over budget, and surrounded by legal disputes. Before we perform our analysis, we would like to highlight some of the facts that lead to failure.
Multiplex argued that Mott MacDonald’s design for the Wembley steel work was not fit for purpose and that the initial designs were not correct, constructible, coordinated and consistent. In other words, although the design looked good, it was very challenging and maybe impossible to replicate to scale.
The initial scope was to include football, rugby, and athletics in the same stadium. This later became very controversial and resulted in the removal of athletics from the design in 1999, because of the technical and commercial challenges of accommodating three sports within the same stadium. In 2001, the scope was further changed with the removal of a hotel from the project, the expansion of hospitality suites, and considerably changes to the north side of the stadium. These changes took Mott MacDonald an additional 8 months to redesign.
There was no formal bidding process. In addition, it appeared that not all bidders were treated equally. This can be seen when the bidding process was opened back up after the contractors were narrowed down to the final two.
Anchoring to a Completion Date
When it became a prime objective to finish the project in time for the 2006 FA Cup Final, efficiency and cost effectiveness became secondary issues. It appears many problems could have been avoided if Multiplex did not have to rush the job in order to meet unrealistic expectations. Multiplex claims that it has sustained significant losses as a result of a magnitude of contract breaches and acts of negligence by the client.
Loss of Steel Contractor
Cleveland Bridge terminated their contract in 2004 because they did not believe that they would be paid for materials and because they felt like the differences between them and Multiplex were too great. This was a major setback to the project. Multiplex now had to search and integrate a new steel contractor for the job.
Apart from the major changes in the scope, Multiplex was not given access to vital design information. In turn, Multiplex underpriced the steelwork. Mott MacDonald had thought that Multiplex was aware of the state of design because they managed the design process and had intimately been involved in the design work.