West Ham United’s bid to take over the London Olympic stadium after the 2012 Games has received a major boost in the form of formal support by UK Athletics
The Hammers, who have made a joint bid with Newham council, have committed to ensuring there is an athletics track as well as a football stadium.
It is a big blow to the rival bid from Tottenham/AEG bid who had indicated a running track was not part of their future plans.
UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said: ‘What has impressed me so much about the joint bid from West Ham and Newham is their clear commitment to the spirit of the Olympic legacy and not just athletics at the elite end, but with the retention of the community track, our future champions and club runners too.
‘It was clear from the start that only a partnership approach would bring to life the vision Seb Coe had when he committed to an athletics legacy in 2005 and we believe the collaboration of West Ham, Newham and UKA gives the strongest opportunity for a vibrant sporting legacy that will go well beyond 2012.’
West Ham have also made clear their support for hosting the 2015 world athletics championships at the stadium - London is bidding against Beijing for the event.
Warner added: The team at West Ham have also been keen to support our bid to host the World Athletics Championships in 2015 at the stadium, fully understanding that a significant international event will play a major part in realising their ambition of a British sporting hub.”
Last week, AEG president Tim Leiweke said it would not make economic sense to keep the stadium geared up for athletics because of a small number of major events that could be staged at the venue.
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said: ‘This is fantastic news. We believe ours is the only bid that can deliver London’s legacy commitment to the International Olympic Committee. UKA’s endorsement is a powerful and highly-valued testament of that.
‘Our plan is not just to have a new stadium for West Ham but a real sporting centre for London and the rest of the country. We want to create a home of sport, featuring two of the greatest sports, football and athletics, side by side where they can grow and flourish together.
‘UKA have been great in helping us develop that vision over the past eight months and, together with Newham Council, we are ideally placed to make our dream a reality.
‘We now hope to move on and secure the stadium and enable world-class athletics to continue in east London beyond the Olympic Games - hopefully including the IAAF World Championships in 2015.’
Previous story (AJ 01.10.10)
West Ham steps up Olympic bid
Premier League footballers have delivered a proposal to 10 Downing Street to put the case for West Ham to make a new home at the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 London Games
Insisting only they could deliver the legacy promise made when London was named host city, footballers Scott Parker, Carlton Cole and Mark Noble went to the Prime Minister’s home with representatives from Newham Council.
If the bid by the Hammers proves successful their current ground Upton Park would be knocked down, to make way for homes, shops and community facilities.
The Olympic Park Legacy Company has also been presented with a copy of the proposal.
Football, athletics, as well as other major sports, concerts and community facilities would be staged at the stadium under the plan, which would see the capacity reduced to 60,000.
It would also house what the bid describes as ‘innovative and exciting education resources’ and ‘health and well-being programmes’, as well as an Olympic visitor centre and football museum.
The bid has been publicly backed by London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and UK Athletics chaiman Ed Warner.
The last thing anyone wants is for the Olympic Stadium to become a ghost of Olympics past
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said: ‘We believe this is the only bid that can deliver London’s legacy commitment to the International Olympic Committee.
“The last thing anyone wants is for the Olympic Stadium to become a ghost of Olympics past. The only realistic solution is to make the stadium work for a Premier League football team and that should be West Ham United.
‘As a top-flight football club, we have the necessary expertise in running a major multi-purpose venue. ‘Our plan to keep most of the stadium in place protects the public investment.’
Newham Mayor Robin Wales added: ‘Our proposal with West Ham is the natural and logical solution that will provide a legacy for decades to come.
‘Our plans will deliver upwards of two million visitors each year and provide a significant beacon in the East End that will fulfil the original London 2012 bid commitments.
‘A busy stadium will enhance the regeneration of the wider area and, importantly, there will be no cost to the public purse after the stadium’s conversion.’
Previous story (AJ 18.05.10)
West Ham hopeful of Olympic stadium move
West Ham United said the football club was ‘hopeful’ of moving to the Populous-designed Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games
The eight-week deadline for would-be tenants of the £537million venue in Stratford, east London, to lodge expressions of interest to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) ended yesterday.
The club, which is making a joint bid with Newham Council, have spent that time in ‘meaningful discussions’ with a range of organisations include UK Athletics (UKA), Essex Cricket and AEG, the owners of the nearby O2 arena, to try to broaden and fine-tune its proposal.
A West Ham spokesman told the Press Association: ‘We hope that we are called in very soon to get in to much more detailed discussions about what is or is not possible. We are extremely excited and can not wait to take our ideas forward.’
The OPLC will examine and filter out the different bids until June 18. A decision on the future use of the Olympic Stadium should be made by the end of March 2011.
After the 2012 games the venue is set to be reduced from 80,000 seats to 25,000. A promise to the International Olympic Committee when London was awarded the games means it must be used - in some format - for athletics.
The OPLC is still to confirm how many bids have been made. It will be less than the 100-plus registrations on its website which includes journalists and people seeking information about the bidding process.
West Ham’s plans included a 55,000-60,000 capacity stadium - ‘our optimum size’ the spokesman said.
This could potentially be achieved by widening and putting in different types of seating from its Olympics use.
Additional screens and scoreboards would probably be needed for the behind-the-goal positions but the aim would be to retain the lower seating.
The first rumours that the stadium could be redesigned as a larger, permanent venue emerged last June when legacy chief Baroness Ford said she was looking to retain the Olympic stadium as a permanent large-scale venue and a possible host ground for a 2018 World Cup.