We’ve heard it all before, but Multiplex’s Wembley Stadium will be completed for the FA Cup Final – the 2007 final that is. It could have been worse as the builder had threatened to hold on to the keys until 2010 pending various legal actions.

According to the Sunday Observer, Multiplex has cut a deal with the English soccer mob that will pay another 35 million quid for the over-budget and late job.

Not surprisingly, Multiplex doesn’t seem to have made a bid for the job of building London’s 2012 Olympics athletics stadium after the Wembley pain and suffering.

But Multiplex is not alone in passing – just one suitable proposal was received after the world’s top builders declined to bid. Pending negotiations, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has the A$700 million job as the only applicant. The firm is working with the American architects, HOK Group, which designed the Sydney Olympic Stadium – built for a similar amount last century.

The lack of interest from the world’s biggest builders might suggest the commentariat has been unduly harsh on Multiplex – or that they’ve learned from Multiplex’s many problems.

Bloomberg reckons the Wembley debacle is to blame:

The lack of competition reflects concern about the risk of cost overruns, with delays to London’s new 757 million-pound Wembley soccer arena costing Australia’s Multiplex Group $190 million in the year through June.

“The Olympic Development Authority will struggle now to attract builders to get involved in the other Olympic venues,” said Rachael Waring, a construction analyst at Numis Securities in Liverpool. “Firms don’t want the risk of losing money, especially after Wembley.”

The joys of managing a major project in London shrink even further given the government’s determination to avoid Athens’ two-billion-euro cost overrun. London is hoping to limit its capital spending to just 3.4 billion quid for the sports carnival.

Olympics are like that – they can seem a good idea at the time. Just ask Sydney.

Peter Fray

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