London | The new Wembley Stadium, promoters claim, has more toilets (2,618) than any other building in the world. We are skeptical. If the Sears Tower in Chicago does not have more toilets, we would be sorely disappointed.
Nevertheless, Simon Garfield writes at length about the cost overruns (the cost has rocketed to £757 million, up from the 1996 estimate of £180 million) and the legends of the previous Wembley, which included death-defying feats from Evel Knievel, papal Masses and the 1966 World Cup finals. “Watching football at Wembley had a Blitz spirit about it,” writes Garfield,
to the point that being crushed on the terraces as urine cascaded down the steps was something to be mourned. It was a dump, but it was the dump where England won the World Cup.
Former Labour sports minister Kate Hoey objected to the lack of permanent facilities for track and field at the new facility as well as the use of lottery money to subsidize the project. “Wembley will go down in history as something that could have been handled far better and produced a far better result for football,” she says. “It will certainly please those who lord themselves with corporate entertainment.”