Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 18 News List

West Ham launch bid for 2012 Olympic stadium

REUTERS , LONDON

West Ham United could co-­exist with athletics and provide the perfect legacy for London’s 2012 Olympic stadium, club vice-­chairman Karen Brady said on Tuesday.

The Premier League club has joined forces with the London Borough of Newham for a bid to take over the £537 million (US$804.9 million) stadium once the Games is over, outlining plans for an Olympic visitor center and soccer museum.

“It’s about realizing the full potential of the Olympic Park,” Brady, who recently joined the club along with new joint owners David Gold and David Sullivan, told the club’s Web site.

“As well-established local organizations, 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,” she said.

Previously it seemed that Games organizers’ commitment to an athletics track legacy at the stadium would put off prospective Premier League tenants but West Ham appear keen to move away from their nearby Upton Park stadium for a bigger venue.

“We acknowledge the need for the stadium to host world-class athletics and so it should,” Brady said. “But it can accommodate football too — and a whole lot more. There has to be a way of achieving that.”

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), a public sector company set up to manage planning and development of the Olympic Park post Games, has invited ­organizations interested in operating in, or locating to the stadium after 2012, to come forward with expressions of interest.

Originally the 80,000-seater stadium was to be scaled back to 25,000 seats after the Games but the OPLC said in November that it had not ruled anything in or out, while it has also been provisionally included in England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

Meanwhile, plans to use Greenwich Park as an equestrian venue for the London 2012 Olympics were approved by local councilors at a planning meeting on Tuesday.

The London Organising Committee (LOCOG) had met stiff opposition from local residents, pressure groups and wildlife organizations worried about the impact the plans would have on the park, which is a World Heritage Site.

However, at a packed planning meeting of Greenwich Council that stretched towards midnight, LOCOG was given the go-ahead to continue with its preferred choice for the equestrian site close to the main Olympic Park.

Pressure groups argued that the park would be damaged by work needed to install a temporary showjumping arena, cross-country course and spectator stands for the Games and that local residents would be deprived of access to the panoramic green space in south London before and during the Olympics.

Other iconic venues for the Games include the All England Tennis Club, Lord’s cricket ground, which will stage archery, and the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich for shooting.

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