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UK Athletics sets sights on dedicated new stadium

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Athletics chiefs will next month consider plans to build a brand-new track and field stadium in addition to redeveloping Twickenham as the centre of their bid for the 2005 World AthleticsChampionships.

uk Athletics, the sport's governing body, said last week that it has been approached by six developers and local authorities with 'good quality' expressions of interest for a dedicated stadium.

'We will start considering these options after our world championship bid has been filed on 31 January,' said David Young, facilities manager at uk Athletics.

The news comes after athletics was excluded from plans to rebuild Wembley and it appeared to rule out the rfu rugby stadium at Twickenham as a permanent base because it is too large.

'The capacity we need for the world championships is not the same as in between times for Grand Prix events,' chief executive of uk Athletics, David Moorcroft, admitted. 'Athletics is a pain of a sport to fit in with others.'

A new stadium would have a 25,000 capacity and cost around £50 million, Moorcroft said.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has different plans however. 'The idea is for Twickenham to be used for events such as the world and European championships and perhaps as the centre for an Olympic bid. Grand Prix events would be allocated on a rota basis around the country,' a spokesman said.

The government has set aside around £60 million for athletics but it is still unclear if this can be used for more than one project.

A feasibility study for Twickenham is being made by Sheffield practice Ward McHugh Associates, which plans to rebuild the south stand and close off the stadium, reducing the effect of wind on athletes and adding more seats. This stand may be set on rails to make it retractable. A permanent running track will be built and the playing surface raised 1.5m. A warm- up track will be built near the stadium. The study will include proposals to make the warm-up track a 20,000 seat stadium suitable for Grand Prix events, said Terry Ward, partner at Ward McHugh.

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