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Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Monday, 24 January 2011

Olympic stadium decision is put on hold

Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium seen while under construction

A decision on the future use of the 2012 Olympic stadium, scheduled for Friday, has been postponed.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company says it needs more time to study rival bids from Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham.

West Ham have pledged to retain the athletics track, but Spurs would demolish the £537m stadium and rebuild it as a football-only venue.

The OPLC is in charge of securing an economically viable future for the Olympic Park after the 2012 Games.

A spokesman said: "Given the detailed nature of both bids received, we need more time to seek further clarification with both bidders in order to identify a preferred bidder.

"The stadium is a significant public asset and we have a duty to run a robust process.

"Securing the most appropriate solution for the stadium is vital to our long-term aspirations for the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the wider regeneration of the area."

Alongside the two shortlisted bids, the OPLC also has the option of converting the stadium into a 25,000 seat, mixed-use venue.

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The spokesman added: "In going to market, the Legacy Company's aim was to consider options which would enhance and build on that plan."

An athletics legacy is one of the key promises that London 2012 made to the International Olympic Committee when it won the right to stage the Games.

But while Tottenham plan to remove the athletics track if their bid is successful, West Ham have vowed to keep it.

The Hammers, in a joint bid with Newham Council, want to create a 60,000-capacity arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use.

West Ham will be loaned £40m by Newham Council to help with their redevelopment plans if they are chosen as preferred tenants of the Olympic stadium.

Tottenham, in a joint bid with sports and entertainment company AEG, would create an athletics legacy by contributing to the refurbishment of the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace.

The north London club have been given planning permission to redevelop White Hart Lane but chairman Daniel Levy has voiced concerns about the "viability and deliverability" of the proposed update of the ground in Tottenham.

In an interview with BBC Sports Editor David Bond, Levy insisted that Tottenham would "give a very good pay-back" to the Treasury should they be chosen to move into the Olympic site.

"I would not say we are getting it on the cheap," he said. "Would you rather have a white elephant? What we are providing is something that's going to be vibrant."

Levy said that Tottenham's plans to create a dedicated athletics facility would involve a 25,000-seat facility that could be expanded to 40,000.

Tottenham bid offers great legacy - Levy

He added: "[The Olympic stadium] was always meant to be a temporary stadium.

"What we have proposed is something we believe is considerably better for athletics.

"The legacy of the Olympics is far greater than one particular sport. Crystal Palace was the home of athletics and we are going to re-establish it.

"We would not be at the final stage of the bid process if Crystal Palace was not an acceptable legacy to the OPLC."

Levy added that he did not believe that athletics and football could go together, which was why Tottenham were not looking to include a running track in their plans for the Olympic stadium.

"Soccer is about the passion that you feel when you are close to the pitch," he said.

"There are no clubs in Europe that you can cite as an example where attendances have held up as a result of soccer and athletics coming together."

Any OPLC recommendation will have to be ratified by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department of Communities and Local Government, and the London Mayor's office.

The ultimate deadline for the OLPC is the end of the financial year, although currently there is no suggestion it will take that long to make its decision.



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see also
Spurs and West Ham put stadium cases
23 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Coe backs West Ham stadium plans
23 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Football greats in stadium debate
21 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Hearn open to hockey stadium move
25 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Council chief slams Spurs' stadium plans
21 Jan 11 |  London 2012


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