We'll attract a million fans to the Olympic Stadium each year, predicts West Ham

Tuesday, 03 April 2012
By David Gold at Upton Park in London

West Ham_-_Olympic_Stadium_April_3April 3 - West Ham United today vowed to bring a million customers to the Olympic Park in London each year – should it win the right to move into the nearby Olympic Stadium.

To achieve this, the English Championship club has indicated it would reduce ticket prices for supporters and is confident it could fill the stadium (pictured above) that will be reduced in capacity from 80,000 to 60,000 after this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Also key to the bid is the assurance made by London when it won the bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 that it would provide an athletics legacy – and West Ham has reaffirmed its commitment to that promise.

The club insisted it would take pride in sharing the world-class stadium with athletics during the summer months, and UK Athletics has publicly supported its bid.

To this end, the running track around the stadium will remain in place indefinitely at the ground enabling the Stratford venue to host the World Championships in 2017.

The Championship outfit also hopes that the opportunity for football supporters to witness games involving some of the world's biggest teams, such as Manchester United and Liverpool, will be a significant draw – although such a plan is conditional on the promotion-chasing Hammers being promoted to the Premier League.

West Ham originally won a bid process with Newham Council to take over the venue after the Olympics last year, but the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) withdrew from negotiations amid a legal challenge from north London-based Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

Three other parties have submitted formal bids for the ground: two are unidentified and the third, a joint bid from the University of East London (UEL) and Essex County Cricket Club, is merely to utilise space rather than take over the whole stadium.

West Ham, which plays at Upton Park, once again bid to move into the Olympic Stadium formally last month and under the new process would become a tenant for the maximum term available – 99 years.

"We are able to deliver committed sustainable use; it is a regular rent for the period of time it is available," said Tara Warren, West Ham's marketing director.

Warren made clear that the club's bid for the stadium was conditional on the venue being "fit for world class football".

She added, however: "It is our view that it will be a vibrant, busy stadium.

"We will bring a million people a year in terms of football, prosperity through 100 years of regular use and opportunity in terms of jobs for local people."

The bid is, however, conditional on the fans' support; Warren said West Ham would begin a consultation with supporters towards the end of May and she insisted that if the set-up was not right for them it would not be right for the club.

Drawing on the rich history of the east London club – which famously provided the cornerstone of the England 1966 World Cup-winning team featuring captain Bobby Moore and final tie goalscorers Geoff Hurst (who scored a hat-trick) and Martin Peters – Warren insisted: "We strongly believe we bring a global profile to the stadium."

West Ham_-_Bobby_Moore_April_3
The club also dubs itself "The Academy of Football" having served as a training ground for some of the best players to have emerged in England over the last 40 years, including – aside from Moore (pictured above, leading out Hurst at Upton Park), Hurst and Peters – Sir Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard junior.

It has stressed the Olympic Park will be "more than a stadium, a place for the nation" – and has cleverly evoked the imagery of its iconic defender through its "Moore than a Football Club" tagline.

Warren reiterated that the Hammers was certain its bid was "the right one", emphasising the club's experience running a stadium, while confirming its willingness to team up with other bidders.

UEL supported West Ham's original bid to move into the stadium last year; it has also been mooted that National Baseball League games could be staged there in future.

West Ham insists it would not be proposing the move from its existing 108-year-old home stadium if it did not make business sense, and is considering its options with regard to naming rights for the Stadium.

Under rules there is an opportunity to bid for stadium naming rights, but Warren said: "It is not a requirement and we are considering all the options available.

"We do not have naming rights at Upton Park so it is not a loss in that sense, and there are many other opportunities for revenue at the Stadium."

Should West Ham move into the Olympic Stadium it has stressed it will work hard to ensure its old Upton Park home sits is at the heart of any regeneration of the area they will be leaving behind.

One party opposed to West Ham's bid though is nearby Leyton Orient, whose Brisbane Road ground is close to the Olympic Stadium.

The League One club is concerned over West Ham's desire to "build a new fan base in the area" via the possibility of reduced ticket prices and the enhanced transport links to Stratford.

Contact the writer of this story at david.gold@insidethegames.biz


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