Students from Raheem Sterling’s School Make History
Students from the former school of Raheem Sterling became part of the history of one of the world’s most famous sporting and entertainment destinations today, receiving an inspirational message from the England footballer himself at an event that marked the completion of the Olympic Steps.
Wembley Park, London’s globally renowned entertainment district and 365-day neighbourhood, marked the completion of the Olympic Steps, the stadium’s elegant new entrance and an expansive new public space, with an event that celebrated the area’s legacy and the young people that will be part of its future. The completion of the Olympic Steps is the latest milestone in the transformation of Olympic Way, the iconic ‘road to Wembley’ which has seen improvements such as repaving, tree planting and the additional of a curated retail offer in recent years. Named after and designed in honour of the 1948 Olympic Games that were held in Wembley Park, the new Olympic Steps and surrounding 12,000 sqm of public space – notably, bigger than the pitch inside Wembley Stadium – will be a new landmark and cultural destination featuring free events for Londoners and visitors from across the globe.
Fittingly, the launch of the public space comes as the UEFA EURO 2020 tournament kicks off and as Wembley Park gears up for its Summer of Play 2021 programme – a 13-week line-up of free, family-friendly events, including live music, public art trails, open-air sporting and exercise, and outdoor film screenings for locals, residents and visitors.
Year 11 pupils at ARK Elvin Academy, a short walk from Wembley Stadium and where a young Raheem went to school dreaming of playing on the world-famous pitch, joined representatives of Brent Council, the Football Association and Quintain to officially open the Olympic Steps at Wembley Park. The Olympic Steps serve as both the new entrance to Wembley Stadium, the journey to which inspires awe and anticipation in superstars and fans alike, and as a new public space for Brent locals, Londoners and those from across the globe.
In a message to the students at ARK Elvin Academy, Raheem Sterling said: “Growing up in Brent, I could see the arch of Wembley Stadium from my home. A short walk away and a lot of work later, I’ve got to do what I love in the stadium and representing everyone who calls Brent home. I am so proud of where I grew up – our community and the growing number of new, accessible spaces for younger members of the community to play and discover their skills and passions.”
Rebecca Curtis, Principal at Ark Elvin Academy, said: “This will be an unforgettable experience for our students. We are so proud to have been part of the launch of this new and historic public space, which will be much enjoyed by young people from Brent like our students and those from farther afield.”
Built by Quintain, the award-winning property developer behind one of Europe’s largest urban transformations at Wembley Park, in conjunction with Brent Council, the Olympic Steps have been 10 years in the making, replacing the pedway built in the 1970s that spanned a coach park that no longer exists. The Olympic Steps provide better access for the needs of older people and those with mobility impairments with the introduction of four new lifts from ground level to the Wembley Stadium concourse. Each lift will be able to accommodate four wheelchair users plus their companions, providing a total capacity of 12 wheelchairs at a time.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: “Opening the Olympic Steps is a very proud moment. Wembley Park has long been the pinnacle in the careers of many athletes and musicians, and rightly so. I want this new space – accessible and designed to be enjoyed by all – to inspire the next generation. In particular, I hope this new public space outside the stadium will inspire young people from Brent to realise their potential and, one day, make the space inside the stadium as much their own, just like Raheem has done.”
The Olympic Steps mark the final addition to Quintain’s major upgrade of Olympic Way and will deliver 12,000 sqm, or around three acres, of new public space at the heart of Wembley Park. The Olympic Steps, along with the wider works to Olympic Way, form an integral part of the transformation of Wembley Park from a place once only suitable for event days into an exciting cultural district with a thriving local community.
James Saunders, Chief Executive of Quintain, said: “The Olympic Steps are a spectacular addition to what we have created at Wembley Park. More than just a stunning visual awaiting sports and music fans arriving at Wembley Park, the Olympic Steps and the public realm is new space for our community. Wembley Park, with its wide and spacious boulevards, is a far cry from the industrial past of this area – and what better a way to mark that occasion than with students from ARK Elvin Academy, the future of the area. As we kick off a Summer of Play at Wembley Park, we are feeling immensely proud to be part of this community and optimistic about its future.”
The introduction of the new steps will dramatically enhance the experience for Wembley Park’s residents, workers and visitors throughout the year. The Olympic Steps and the public space immediately surrounding them will provide an array of benefits for Wembley Park’s local community, including an increased programme of free events that enliven the neighbourhood throughout the year.
In addition, a vast, sheltered undercroft area below the Olympic Steps landing will be bathed in natural light through 36 giant pavement lights and provide new space to host public events, such as covered markets and live performances. From the community parades of Light Up The Night, to the winter lights festival Winterfest and celebrity performances of The Mayor of London’s International Busking Day, Olympic Way has played host to some of Wembley Park’s most exciting and inclusive free events. The Olympic Steps will expand and enhance this public space, allowing for more memorable moments to take place in the heart of Wembley Park.
The Olympic Steps, which has been co-funded by Quintain and Brent, form part of a long-standing ambition by the parties to improve the area, whilst enhancing accessibility for all visitors to the National Stadium.
Mark Burrows, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at The Football Association, said: “We’re delighted to see the opening of the Olympic Steps, which provide both a visually appealing and fully accessible approach to our iconic venue. We look forward to fans visiting Wembley Stadium this summer being able to enjoy our new entrance and the transformation of the surrounding public spaces.”
Wembley Park is one of Europe’s most all-embracing urban transformations, encompassing thousands of new homes, 46,500 sqm of retail and leisure space, and a brand new seven-acre park, part of which will officially open later this summer.