West Ham United among four formal bidders for London 2012 Olympic Stadium

Friday, 23 March 2012
By David Gold

London 2012_Olympic_Stadium_on_first_day_of_spring_March_20_2012March 23 - Championship outfit West Ham United have confirmed that they are one of four parties submitting formal bids to move into the Olympic Stadium after London 2012.

West Ham would become a tenant of the Stadium after this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games, and have expressed the hope that it will become a "world class" home for the team in the years to come.

Today is the deadline for the 16 parties who submitted their interest in moving into the stadium at the end of January to place formal bids.

West Ham are the only one of the bidders to so far make their bid public and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) are refusing to reveal the identity of the three other.

But Leyton Orient, who had been speculated would be among the bidders, have told insidethegames that they have not taken their initial interest any further forward.

A final decision is due to made in May and then ratified at an OPLC Board meeting in June.

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West Ham said that they submitted a bid this lunchtime, and Karren Brady (pictured centre), the club's vice-chairman, said: "Having spent the last two years dedicated to this project I am privileged to once more be submitting West Ham United's bid to become the anchor concessionaire of the Olympic Stadium post the 2012 Games.

"From the outset it has been my firm, unwavering belief that the stadium can truly become a multi-use destination of which East London and the nation as a whole can be proud.

"I have never lost sight of our vision to play our part, along with the stadium's major stakeholders, in ensuring it grows into a global asset, the 'jewel in the crown' of the Park that will be watched by the world.

"Our vision for the Stadium has always been about standing up for the promises made for London back in Singapore in 2005 and what they meant for our future generations.

"We are honoured to have once more received the support and backing of our friends at UK Athletics.

"I would like to thank the many West Ham supporters who have given their time to share their opinions on our proposed move ahead of this decision and despite the considerable constraints and confidentially agreements we were required to enter into, I can assure them their feedback has been instrumental in informing the board's approach to our bid.

"We have not taken this decision lightly and I should be clear that any move to the stadium is conditional on the fact that it must provide an arena that is fit for world-class football and feels like home to our deserving fans.''

Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, who are backing West Ham's bid, said: "We have long been enthused by what a football club of West Ham's calibre can bring to this multi-purpose venue, and in particular by [the team's] plans to be part of a vibrant future for the stadium and the Olympic Park."

The club's joint chairmen, David Sullivan (pictured right) and David Gold (left), also issued a statement on the West Ham website.

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"It has now been over two years since we came home to West Ham United and realised our lifelong ambition of running the club we grew up supporting," it read.

"As we have always said, we remain committed to this magnificent stadium and provided we are able to offer a world-class stadium for football for our prolific, loyal and passionate supporters we believe there is nobody better placed to help deliver the legacy for the East End community than us.

"This area – the one from which we both originate – deserves a true and lasting legacy to follow the 2012 Games.

"We know that using the stadium as our home will bring with it huge responsibility, but we are fully committed to making it our home for at least the next 99 years.

"We will take on with pride the mantle of what that means in terms of giving something back to the community."

West Ham originally won the right to move into the Olympic Stadium last year, but after legal challenges from Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient, negotiations with the OPLC collapsed and the process was started again – only now with the OPLC seeking a tenant, rather than a party to take over ownership of the stadium.

Also key to the OPLC decision to withdraw from negotiations with West Ham last year was the promise made in Singapore prior to London winning the right to host the Olympics in 2005, that the Games would provide a significant athletics legacy – and the prospect of the athletics track at the Olympic Stadium being removed given the uncertainty created by the legal action taken by Tottenham Hotspur.

London won the right to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships weeks after the previous process was ended, boosted by the commitment to retaining the athletics track at the Olympic Stadium.

Leyton Orient in particular are concerned at West Ham moving into the Stadium, which is so close to their own ground at Brisbane Road and fear it will have a detrimental impact on the number of supporters attending their games.

"We have received four bids from parties interested in using Stadium after the Games," said a spokesman for the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC).

"The Legacy Company will shortly start its evaluation process with the aim of announcing which concessionaires will occupy the Stadium alongside athletics before the Games.

"Legacy planning is further ahead than any previous Olympic Host City.

"The Stadium will become the new national centre for athletics and host of the 2017 World Athletics Championships and we remain on course to reopen the Stadium as a multi-purpose venue in 2014."

The OPLC would not be drawn on who the other bidding parties are for the stadium, but Leyton Orient have confirmed today that they have dropped their interest in submitting a formal bid.

"After due consideration, we have decided not to submit a bid for the Olympic Stadium," Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn said today in a statement.

"The club has taken extensive expert advice on the subject and it has become more and more clear throughout this process that the stadium does not offer a viable solution for football."

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