The twisted red mass of tubes next to the Olympic Stadium that was supposed to be a local landmark is proving to be more of a millstone for the Queen Elizabeth Park.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit was supposed to be one of the highlights of the Olympic Park, the UK’s largest artwork and lasting legacy. However, far from bringing in visitors from far and wide to admire the views, visitor numbers are slumping, it runs at a loss, and is racking up a pile of debt.

According to the latest financial statements from the LLDC which runs the 2012 Olympics legacy developments in the park, the Orbit attracted 155,000 visitors in the previous financial year – down on the 180,000 a year earlier, and the 193,000 visitors in 2016/17, when visitor numbers spiked following the publicity about the new slide that had just been added.

Even that was far short of the original estimates of 350,000 people visiting each year.

Part of the difficulty with the Orbit is that while it’s visually distinctive locally, to the average passerby the height is lacking in terms of luring people up to see the views from it. That the views are also restricted in some areas by the structure itself doesn’t help.

With revenues of just £1.79 million, and operating costs of £1.86 million, the Orbit reported a lost of £58,000 last year.

A loan of £13 million (£9.2m plus unpaid interest), to part fund the construction of the ArcelorMittal Orbit needs to be repaid to ArcelorMittal from future profits from the operation of the Orbit when, or is that “if” they are generated.

At the moment, the LLDC records the carrying value of the loan at nil, and recognises a liability for the loan should it need to be repaid. At the time of its construction, ArcelorMittal funded up to £19 million of the £24 million project (£10 million donation, and £9 million loan) with the outstanding £3.1 million provided by the London Development Agency.

Despite the £24 million spent building the Orbit, the LLDC now values it at just £4.8m on the basis of the earnings that could be generated from operating the attraction.


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  1. ChrisC says:

    Another Boris Boondoggle.

    Like the dangle way that cost way more than expected and TFL had to bail it out my And the water cannon he bought despite being told it would be illegal to use them.

    Plus the cost of the garden bridge and the millions he spent on the island airport.
    Not forgetting the awful deal for the stadium.

    He has cost London tens and tens if not hundreds of millions for no benefit at all.

  2. mikeH says:

    I thought this was an ugly, useless pile of metal when I first saw it and have not changed my view over time.
    Do we really need these so called ‘artistic’ objects as a centre piece at big events they rarely perform any useful function and quickly look dated, plus costing money in upkeep.
    Lets get rid of it.

  3. Maurice Reed says:

    Razor blades in waiting.

  4. Helio says:

    In my opinion this is a great piece of art, very provocative. As a resident at the Olympic Village I do suggest for the ticket price to be much lower it is too expensive. The Olympic Park is great and the Orbit is like a rose in a metal form that shines throughout Newham and London. It just needs publicity and fair price to allow everyone in UK to have a honest opinion about it.

    • Pauline Fillery says:

      Yep, lower the ticket price a little, especially the family ticket, and promote it at railway stations as an attraction.

  5. Dr Barbara Reddlyon says:

    So LLDC spends £3.1 million and has an asset worth nearly £5 million.

    The only loser is Mittal.

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