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West Ham and Newham Council eye bid for Olympic Stadium

The London 2012 Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium is currently under construction in east London

West Ham are in talks with Newham Council over a joint bid to occupy the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games.

The club's co-owner David Gold has warned that if West Ham fail to secure the move, the Stratford venue will become "another white elephant".

"More and more people are warming to the idea that we are the right route forward in taking over," added Gold.

The east London club and council hope the arena, in Newham borough, will feature "both football and athletics".

Interested parties have an eight-week deadline to submit plans, with the Olympic Park Legacy Company set to make a decision on the stadium's future use by March 2011.

A joint statement from West Ham and Newham Council read: "The proposal would be to make the venue a vibrant centre of sport, culture and education, featuring both football and athletics.

"Open day and night all year round, it would have an active community use, inspiring learning and achievement and helping to create a better quality of life for tens of thousands."

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The statement continued: "One of the ideas being examined is to incorporate an Olympic visitor centre and football museum at the stadium.

"Together with the other attractions in the Olympic Park and the neighbouring Westfield Stratford City shopping centre it could make the venue one of the nation's favourite destinations."

West Ham have long been linked with a move to the nearby Stratford venue, and the club's intentions were reaffirmed in January when Gold and co-owner David Sullivan assumed control of the cash-strapped club.

"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," Sullivan said at the time.

However, maintaining a Grand Prix athletics track at the stadium after the Olympics was one of the pledges made to the International Olympic Committee when London won the right to host the Games.

Former Birmingham City chairman Gold, though, believes that using the stadium solely for track and field would be flawed, citing the example of the rarely-used Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium in south London as an example.

"If you're talking about legacies, would you want a crumbling, decaying venue? Is that a legacy? Not for me, it isn't," Gold told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It might be for a politician, but for a businessman, and I am predominantly that although I'm also a fan of West Ham United, it doesn't make sense to be anything else other than a stadium that holds 50,000 people."

OPLC chair Baroness Ford has said the door is not closed on it being a multi-purpose venue, while London Mayor Boris Johnson is keen on a football club taking over the running costs of the stadium.

The political backing for West Ham's bid has also been bolstered by the support of Newham Mayor Robin Wales, who sits on the boards of the OPLC and Games organiser Locog.

The arena, which under current plans is set to be reduced from an 80,000 to a 25,000 capacity after the Games, has been named as a possible venue for inclusion in England's 2018 World Cup bid.

The Football Association is due to make a final decision on whether the stadium is formally included in the bid by May 2010.

The OPLC, meanwhile, has confirmed that interest in the stadium has so far come from UK Athletics, which wants to host national and international events at the venue, the Rugby Football Union, which has discussed using the venue during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and the England and Wales Cricket Board, which is interested in holding Twenty20 matches at the stadium.

There has also been interest from organisers of American football, baseball and mass participation road running races.



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see also
Sullivan slams 2012 stadium plan
18 Mar 10 |  Olympics
London bids to stage 2015 Worlds
15 Mar 10 |  Athletics
Stadium move setback for West Ham
17 Feb 10 |  West Ham
The man with the Gold-en touch?
22 Feb 10 |  West Ham
Olympic legacy plans 'unclear'
16 Feb 10 |  London
Coe firm on post-2012 stadium aim
11 Feb 10 |  West Ham
West Ham revive Olympic stadium hopes
03 Feb 10 |  West Ham
Bonds against Hammers stadium bid
20 Jan 10 |  West Ham
West Ham want Olympic venue move
19 Jan 10 |  London


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