Government and Mayor Give West Ham Olympic Stadium Go-Ahead

March 3, 2011

The Olympic Park Legacy’s (OPLC) preferred bidder status awarded to English Premier League soccer club West Ham United has, as expected, been rubber-stamped by the Government and London Mayor Boris Johnson today, March 3, meaning that the Premier League club officially open negotiations.

Local Government Minister Bob Neill said in a statement: “My colleague the Minister for Sport and the Olympics [Hugh Robertson] and I have today given our approval to the recommendation of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to select the joint bid from West Ham United Football Club and the London Borough of Newham as the preferred bidder for the legacy use of the Olympic Stadium.”

“We are therefore writing to the Company informing them of our decisions as its joint Government Founder Members. 

“The Mayor of London, as the other Founder Member of the Company, will also write separately.

“This completes the first stage of this process and means that the Olympic Park Legacy Company are now able to enter into negotiations with the consortium comprising West Ham United Football Club and the London Borough of Newham to agree a lease for the Olympic Stadium site on terms that are acceptable to Government and the Mayor of London and provide value for money to the public sector.

“We are delighted with the progress that has been made and very pleased we have reached this very significant milestone in determining the long term legacy for the Olympic Park following the Games.”

West Ham were chosen by the OPLC last month to move into the US$836m Olympic Stadium ahead of a rival bid from fellow English Premier League soccer side Tottenham Hotspur.

Unlike their London rivals, West Ham promised to maintain the running track after the Olympcis and Paralympics – a key promise made by London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe during the capital’s successful bid.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson spoke of his approval, stating: “I am confident that West Ham will provide a secure future for the stadium which also sees its iconic design for the London Games retained for future generations to admire.

“Just two years ago it faced the prospect of becoming a dust bowl staging occasional athletics events but now we can look forward to a fantastic multi-use venue at the heart of the community, able to host football and other sports as well as concerts and events specifically for local people and schools.”

The Government and Mayor’s approval was also backed by the chairman of UK Athletics, Ed Warner, who stated: “We are delighted that the Government and the Mayor have ratified the OPLC’s decision to proceed with West Ham as the preferred bidder for the Olympic Stadium.

“The process undertaken by the OPLC was robust and thorough and this announcement today is testament to that.

“We would like to thank the OPLC, and in particular [chair] Margaret Ford and [chief executive] Andrew Altman, for their commitment to an athletics legacy and the way in which they have kept us involved and informed throughout the process.”

Johnson, meanwhile, said he would do all he could to help Tottenham leave White Hart Lane and move to a new stadium, adding: “The extremely thorough process to select a preferred bidder for the Stadium attracted two outstanding proposals from two great London football clubs.

“I would like to reassure·Tottenham Hotspur that we stand ready to support them with any plans they now want to take forward for their future stadium requirements.”