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Jowell plays down West Ham's Olympic Stadium hopes

The London 2012 Olympic Stadium
West Ham are keen for a move to the Olympic Stadium

West Ham's hopes of moving to the Olympic Stadium after the London Games in 2012 have been dealt a blow by Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

The club's new owners have targeted a move from Upton Park to the 80,000 capacity stadium as they try to improve West Ham's finances.

But Jowell said: "It will be a grand prix athletics stadium.

"We have made that commitment, that was one of the reasons that we bid to win the Games and so that is a given."

David Sullivan and David Gold took over cash-strapped West Ham in January and immediately confirmed an intention to relocate to the Olympic Stadium in nearby Stratford.

A major stumbling block to the proposed move is that the running track at the stadium would have to remain as part of the London organising committee's commitment to leave a legacy to athletics in East London.

Sullivan said at the time of the takeover: "We hope to persuade the government to let us move into the new Olympic Stadium and I believe the people of east London would support that move.


Asked whether they would be happy to live with the track around the pitch, Sullivan said: "Ideally no, but there may be a way we could lay the running track for three months or something.

"I don't think running tracks work, particularly behind the goal. The customers are so far back it doesn't work."

Jowell was critical of Sullivan for making public comments about the Olympic Stadium move.

"I don't think you can jump from a press conference where the new owners sit down and say we'd like to move to the to Olympic Stadium to how it might work," she said.

"In order to make sure we maximise the legacy of the park, we have set up the Olympic Park Legacy Company and they will shortly be inviting bids and business plans from any business that wants to apply for a commercial stake in the stadium and if West Ham want to made a bid at that time it will be considered alongside all the others."

Jowell is currently in the Canadian city of Vancouver, which is hosting the Winter Olympics.

The start of the Games was overshadowed by the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili and there have been ongoing problems caused by unsuitable weather.

But Jowell said: "I think that (Vancouver organising committee) VANOC have done a really wonderful job.

"They have had some really big challenges, like the weather for instance, but what they have really got going for them, and I think this is something that our media back home doesn't quite get, is that these are Canada's Games and the people of Vancouver are 1000% behind them.

"Whatever carping there may have been in the British media, it is not reflected here."

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see also
West Ham revive Olympic stadium hopes
03 Feb 10 |  West Ham
West Ham want Olympic venue move
19 Jan 10 |  London
Gold & Sullivan take over Hammers
19 Jan 10 |  West Ham
2012 stadium could house Hammers
20 Apr 06 |  Olympics 2012
West Ham in talks on 2012 stadium
20 Oct 06 |  West Ham

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