OLYMPIC STADIUM EXCLUSIVE - Council team up with West Ham
WEST HAM UNITED and Newham Council are looking at a joint bid to occupy the 2012 Olympic Stadium in an attempt to guarantee it provides a viable and lasting legacy after the Games. Opposition to West Ham s new owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, since
WEST HAM UNITED and Newham Council are looking at a joint bid to occupy the 2012 Olympic Stadium in an attempt to guarantee it provides a viable and lasting legacy after the Games. Opposition to West Ham’s new owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, since they revealed their plans to move into the stadium has been rife, with the government’s Minister for London Tessa Jowell, UK Athletics Chief Ed Warner and Olympic ambassador Lord Coe all pouring cold water on the scheme. However, it seems that the Hammers have found an important ally in Labour-run Newham Council, who claim their plan would make the venue a vibrant centre of sport, culture and education, featuring both football and athletics. The scheme is to open by day and by night, all year round, with an active community use, inspiring learning and achievement and helping to create a better quality of life for residents. West Ham United vice-chairman, Karren Brady, said: “We’re very excited to be working with Newham Council and are already bursting with some fantastic and innovative ideas. “West Ham United is a people’s club at the heart of its community and, like the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and the council, we want to grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a real, life-changing legacy – not just for this part of London, but for the wider area as well.” The biggest stumbling block with West Ham’s move has been the existence of an athletics track around the pitch, but the partners hope to be able to solve that amicably as well. Both parties are mindful of the pledge given to the International Olympic Committee that a London Games will leave a solid athletics legacy. But they are calling for a solution to be found that will allow football and other sports to share the venue and prevent it from becoming a ghost of Olympics past. “It’s about realising the full potential of the Olympic Park,” said Brady. “As well-established local organisations, Newham Council and West Ham United are best placed to make it happen. If achievable it is the ideal answer for those who, rightly, demand a sustainable legacy from the 2012 Games and not a white elephant. “We acknowledge the need for the stadium to host world-class athletics and so it should. But it can accommodate football too – and a whole lot more. There has to be a way of achieving that.” The move is likely to generate much-needed employment, and there are also embryonic plans to incorporate an Olympic visitors’ centre and a football museum at the stadium. Mayor Wales said: “The last thing anyone wants is for the Olympic Stadium to become a white elephant. “We were concerned about this when London successfully won the bid to host the 2012 Games and we continue to be concerned. “The only realistic solution is to make the stadium work for a Premier League football team and that should be West Ham United. We have never understood why that wasn’t obvious. “Look at what Manchester did after the Commonwealth Games. West Ham understands the community. It will mean there is a tenant that will look after it, rather than let it go to ruin.” If a joint bid is viable, it will be submitted to the Olympic Park Legacy Company who will invite proposals for the stadium soon. The battle for the Stadium legacy has taken another turn, but with so many interested parties, it is likely to be quite a while before anything concrete is decided.