By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
August 10 - West Ham United have revealed details of their plans for the Olympic Stadium if they take it over after the 2012 Games and have pledged to retain an athletics track in a newly reconfigured 60,000-capacity arena.
The Premier League club are the favourites to win the race to take over the Stadium and their chances will be massively boosted by the news that they are prepared to accommodate a track, which was one of the key promises Sebastian Coe made when he presented London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
West Ham had initially been against plans to retain the track but have now included it in their plans presented to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) and claim that they are fully committed to its inclusion.
Besides the track, West Ham's proposal includes better seating for 60,000 spectators, more hospitality and customer facilities inside the stadium, including education facilities for the local community, an extended roof to cover all seating and giant video screens behind each goal.
"We will create a stadium that captures the heart and spirit of the Games for decades to come; a vibrant centre of sport, education and culture that will host top-class football, athletics, cricket and concerts, as well as a range of facilities for the local community," Ian Tompkins, West Ham's Olympic Project Director, told insidethegames.
"We will leave the stadium largely as it is, retaining its iconic look and feel, but make it even better.
"The venue’s features would open all year round, the stadium will inspire learning and achievement and help build a better quality of life for tens of thousands, creating much-need employment and making for a healthier East London by encouraging sports and physical activity.
"It can also host many great sporting moments along the way."
West Ham have targetted a move away from Upton Park, the club's home since 1904 but which has a capacity of only 35,303, as vital to its development and to give the club the chance to challenge nearer the top of the Premier League.
West Ham's bid, submitted jointly with Newham Borough Council, also includes plans for a national institute for sports science and sports medicine, along with a visitor centre for tourists and sports museum.
"Together with the other attractions in the Olympic Park and the neighbouring Stratford City shopping centre, it could become one of the nation’s favourite destinations," said Tompkins.
"Many key people and organisations have welcomed our bid, including UK Athletics, Essex Cricket, Westfield, the Canary Wharf Group and the University of East London.
"Our plan is the ideal answer for those who, rightly, demand a sustainable legacy from the 2012 Games and not a white elephant.
"The 2012 London Games promise to be the best Olympics and Paralympics ever.
"West Ham and Newham will help guarantee it delivers the greatest legacy."
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