Wednesday July 15th, 2015

Sports economists say that Tokyo's National Stadium being built for the 2020 Summer Olympics could cost upwards of $2 billion, making it the most expensive stadium ever built.

Construction on the stadium is scheduled to start in October at an estimated cost of 252 billion yen, a more than 50% increase of over previous projections. The project is expected to be completed in 2019.

The "Bird's Nest" stadium built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics cost $455 million and the stadium for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London cost about $680 million.

“The spiraling costs come as no surprise," College of the Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson told the Associated Press. "Most of the recent Olympics Games and World Cups have seen final costs come in far above initial estimates."

The stadium, which has a bicycle helmet-like design, will have a ribbed roof on huge steel arches, movable seats, and certain earthquake-resistant features.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the stadium, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, can’t be redesigned without fear of missing a deadline for international events that are scheduled to be held there.

“If we held an international competition, selected a new design and did the structural designs, there wouldn’t be enough time,” Abe said, according to Bloomberg. “There is a strong possibility it wouldn’t be ready in time for the 2020 Olympics either.”

The estimated $2 billion cost of Tokyo's facility will top the previous most expensive sports stadium, which is MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J., home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets. That stadium was completed in 2010 and cost $1.6 billion.

Yankee Stadium, completed in 2009 cost $1.3 billion. The new Wembley Stadium in London cost $1.2 billion, and Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., home of the San Francisco 49ers and site of Super Bowl 50, had a price tag of $1.2 billion.

The rising cost of Olympic Stadiums could be a problem for cities bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympics. So far, Boston, Hamburg, Germany, Paris, Rome and Budapest have announced their intentions to bid on the Games.

"If a modern city like Tokyo with tons of highly developed infrastructure already in place can't make an Olympics work without breaking the bank, what chance do any other potential host cities have," Matheson said.

- Scooby Axson

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