Bidding for Olympic Stadium Gathers Pace

By iSportconnect | March 26, 2012

The race to secure rights to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium has reached a pivotal stage with the news that The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has received four bids for the future tenancy of the site.

Npower Championship football club West Ham United have always expressed a keen interest in the stadium, but stepped up negotiations on Friday by confirming that an official bid has been made. West Ham’s bid comes after it was seemingly set to secure use of the Olympic Stadium post-London 2012, only to see its deal with Newham Council collapse in October.

The future of the Stadium has attracted much controversy during the last two years after the original decision to award the stadium to West Ham in February 2011 sparked legal challenges from Barclays Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. Third tier team Leyton Orient also contested the decision in similar fashion. Tottenham had sought a judicial review in the belief that a £40 million loan from Newham Council gave West Ham an unfair economic advantage and made the original decision unlawful. The Premier League club has since dropped its interest in the Olympic Stadium in favour of developing its own stadium near to its current White Hart Lane home.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said the club’s decision to apply for a 99-year lease of the venue was conditional on the stadium being “fit for world-class football”. She said in a statement: “I would like to thank the many West Ham supporters who have given their time to share their opinions on our proposed move ahead of this decision. Despite the considerable constraints and confidentially agreements we were required to enter into, I can assure them their feedback has been instrumental in informing the board’s approach to our bid. From the outset it has been my firm, unwavering belief that the stadium can truly become a multi-use destination of which east London and the nation as a whole can be proud.”

Following London 2012, the Olympic Stadium will be downsized from an 80,000 capacity to 60,000 at a reported cost of £35 million. The running track will be retained as a key part of the venue’s legacy plan, with London set to stage the 2017 World Athletics Championships. A decision on the successful bidder is expected in May, ahead of the opening of the Games on July 27.

An OPLC spokesman told BBC Sport: “We have received four bids from parties interested in using the stadium after the Games. The legacy company will shortly start its evaluation process with the aim of announcing which concessionaires will occupy the stadium alongside athletics before the Games. Legacy planning is further ahead than any previous Olympic host city.”