West Ham All Clear to Pursue OS Retractable Seating Plans

February 14, 2011

UK sports minister Hugh Robertson has given the green light to potential proposals from English soccer club West Ham to have retractable seating for the Olympic Stadium, provided it can fulfil its promise to athletics.

On Friday, February 11, a decision was made in unanimous fashion by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to award vital preferred bidder status to the East London club ahead of proposals from rival bidders Tottenham Hotspur.

The Premier League strugglers are now believed to be considering the possible seating solution to ensure the stadium is viable for soccer and athletics with Robertson stating that the proposal was “fair enough.”

As part of their bid to inherit the ground, West Ham promised that the athletics track would be kept in the stadium to enable the venue to be used for a variety of sports and concerts.

In an interview with BBC Radio Five’s Sportsweek, the Olympics minister claimed that he didn’t feel that the issue of the running track being upheld would cause problems to soccer fans at the stadium, and said West Ham could have retractable seating so long as they kept their promises to athletics.

He added: “People tend to think of a 1980s mixed-use stadium. This is a much more modern stadium, the sight lines are much better, the fans are much closer to centre spot than the outer seats at Wembley.

“Anybody who has stood in the middle of where the pitch will be will tell you that it looks much, much better. If West Ham want to bring in retractable seating and can still fulfil the promises they made to athletics then that’s fair enough.”

The OPLC’s backing backing does not mean that West Ham have been awarded the rights to move into the Olympic Stadium post 2012 just yet, but it would be highly unexpected if the decision was not ratified by two government departments and the mayor of London.

Robertson confirmed this matter by revealing that he had studied the papers produced by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), which selected West Ham as the preferred bidder over Tottenham on Friday, and said he had been satisfied the process had been done correctly.

He added: “There is a process to go through but West Ham are clearly in the lead. We want to make a formal announcement to Parliament but we know the clock is ticking and we want to get it done as quickly as possible.”