Getting the venues ready

Hampden Park is Scotland's world famous national football stadium, renowned for hosting legendary matches and home of the Hampden Roar, the ear-shattering cheers of the supporters who go there.

For 11 days of competition during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Hampden had to be transformed into a world-class athetics arena, the focal point of the Games ... then back again afterwards.

Sounds simple, but for the fact that the existing field of play wasn't big enough for purpose. The solution was ingenious – lose a few rows of seats and build a new field of play on stilts, six feet above the current one - and Harper Macleod's construction law and procurement specialists played a key role in making it happen.

Of course, it wasn't all about Hampden. None of the venues used for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games were built specifically for the event. That was one of the Games' strong points – unlike some previous multi-sport events, there were no white elephants (try procuring one of those).

We prepared the bespoke contract for the provision of works packages and construction management services for the delivery of all overlay required for the preparation of all venues for the Games. From normal, to Glasgow 2014 and back again. Simple.

There were challenges along the way, but we delivered solutions and the end result was something we can be proud of as a firm.

Michael Conroy, Partner, Harper Macleod

What we did

Our real estate and construction team, led by Partner Michael Conroy, played a key role in advising the Organising Committee. Here's a brief insight into what we did for the biggest multi-sport event ever to take place in Scotland.

Expect the unexpected

Before we even started getting down to drafting contracts, we interacted with the in-house team at the Organising Committee and the relevant external consultants involved to make sure they knew what was going to be involved. We put on workshops with them to take them through what would be required, all the legal issues that would arise and the risks involved. Until one of our secondees joined them full time, there was no in-house construction law specialist.

The Games was always going to be a little bit different to our usual work. Time was undoubtedly the biggest issue. Usually there are financial consequences that cover the situation when things run late. Here, for obvious reasons, that simply wasn't a solution. The Organising Committee required the power to do whatever it took to get things ready on time, making the construction contracts a little out of the ordinary.

While it's not uncommon to advise on refurbishment work, it was unusual in that much of it was temporary refurbishment. What was more unusual was that the person instructing the work – the Organising Committee of Glasgow 2014 - wasn't the owner of the building. That led to more complicated insurance provisions and along with the risk associated with the structure, insurance became one of the key negotiation points and an big issue.

Fortunately, like every other issue, it was one we were able to resolve.

Venue Use Agreements

Our first involvement was around the agreements relating to the use of existing venues for the purpose of the Games (setting out compensation terms, conditions of use and permissions for works, etc). These required negotiation and update to reflect changes and greater certainty around the requirements for the Games, and the full overlay needed. Of course, the venue with the greatest transformation is Hampden. We advised on the procurement of the groundbreaking athletics track for the Games, installed six feet above the existing field of play at Hampden Park. This is the world's first running track to be built entirely on stilts, to enable there to be a large enough surface area to encompass a world-class track and field competition of this scale.

We were involved in the negotiation of the works agreement with the owners of Hampden to document the basis upon which legacy works would be carried out to the North and South Stands and also to allow the temporary works to convert the stadium for use as an athletics stadium. The major works at Hampden to install the athletics track was the most exciting of the contract negotiations.

Template Contracts

For the overlay works themselves there are a multitude of contracts which have had to be procured and entered into to convert the venues from their normal states into the look and configuration required for the Games.

To standardise these and streamline the process of procurement we assisted Glasgow 2014 with the preparation of various template forms of contract. We were able to tap into the knowledge banks and take account of lessons learned from those involved in contractual processes for events such as London 2012.

Major Contracts

The next phase saw our involvement in the preparation of terms and the procurement of suppliers for certain key contracts. For example, Aggreko is the supplier of temporary power for the Games.

What would have happened if Usain Bolt had been bringing the baton home for Jamaica in world record time in the final of the 4x100m ... and the lights went out and the clock stopped. That's the kind of thing our lawyers were thinking about while everyone else was getting ready to enjoy the spectacle. And they may even have had a glance at the clock during the race, just in case.

We prepared the bespoke form of contract and provided advice and assistance in relation to the competitive dialogue procurement process for selection of the preferred supplier of the temporary power for the Games including negotiation of terms with bidders and preparation of final agreed contract terms.

 

Property Licences

There were also a multitude of property licences that have had to be secured for purposes associated with the Games, the biggest being the Athletes Village but also including park and ride sites, Blue Badge parking and staff parking sites, vehicle searching sites; and areas of ground close to venues required for access, storage/works compounds and blast protection areas.

We've handled the leasing arrangements for sites such as:

  • The Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome
  • Hampden Park, which was transformed into a world class athletics arena for the Games.
  • The media centre/broadcast hub
  • Celtic Park, home of the Opening Ceremony
  • Tollcross International Swimming Centre
  • SSE Hydro
  • SECC
  • Barry Buddon

And back again

Our objectives for Glasgow 2014 were to help get the venues delivered on time. We did that, the Games were a tremendous success and everyone went home happy. But that's only part of the story.

With Hampden, for example, there were three sections to the contract and the Games was only the middle one. The restoration was equally important.

Then there was the aftermath. Had our client ended up with fights, claims and overspends on their hands, we would have been unsuccessful, no matter what took place in the arenas. The good thing is that didn't happen. The contracts have protected the organisers and we successfully closed the loop at the end.

Once the warm down was over, we could finally relax.

Michael Conroy

Michael Conroy is a Partner in Harper Macleod's Real Estate & Construction Group. He was involved in many of the contracts relating to the preparation and use of the venues for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Michael said: "An incredible spectacle, professional satisfaction ... and immense relief. As construction lawyers it's not often that we experience all of these in our line of work, but it's not often we get the chance to advise on something like Glasgow 2014. When you are working away on contracts, you don't often get the chance to go and sit in the end result and see it in use as dramatically as the Games.

"The biggest relief came with the news that Hampden Park had been completed ahead of the Games starting and the national stadium looked incredible. To be there among 50,000 people, and witness the spectacle was amazing. While we didn't build it, to know the firm had played a part in the preparation of that venue and many others besides was immensely rewarding."

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