Pascoe "nervous" about unresolved issues surrounding Olympic Stadium's future

Monday, 13 August 2012
By David Gold at City Hall in London

london 2012_olympic_stadiumAugust 13 - Alan Pascoe, the vice-chairman of London's bid to stage this summer's Olympics and Paralympics, has said he is "nervous" by the fact that the future of the Olympic Stadium is still not resolved.

Pascoe told a breakfast meeting organised by UK Trade and Industry about the planning that had gone into the redevelopment of the Olympic Park, and that aside from the future of the stadium, he was confident that the legacy from the Games was secure.

"The aim to have no white elephants – no facilities that would not be used again – most Olympic cities have struggled with that, but here that will not be the case," he said.

Pascoe is a former 400 metres hurdler and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who also won a silver medal in the 4x400m relay at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.

He was critical of then British Prime Minister Tony Blair for costing Britain the chance to stage the 2005 World Athletics Championships – and with it, a purpose-built athletics stadium.

Pascoe, whose management company Fast Track have been one of the most influential firms organising top-level events in Britain for many years, played a key role in the planning and bidding for the Games, which London won the right to host seven years ago.

Alan Pascoe_12_AugustAlan Pascoe is concerned about the future role to be played by the Olympic Stadium

The future of six of the eight key venues built for London 2012 is secure, with organisers going to great effort to ensure that the legacy of the Games is planned for well in advance.

The tender process for the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre is ongoing, but it is the Olympic Stadium which has given most cause for concern and unwanted column inches for London 2012.

A bidding process to decide who would take over the stadium concluded last year, with the venue being awarded to West Ham United.

The Premier League football team had pledged to keep the athletics track, which was key not only to the athletics legacy of the Games but also for London's ultimately successful bid to stage the World Athletics Championships in 2017.

Amid a judicial challenge from Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient with the bidding for the World Athletics Championships nearing its conclusion at the end of 2011, the then Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) withdrew from negotiations with West Ham and restarted the tender process.

The stadium is now to remain in public ownership, with the winner of the right to move into the ground renting it from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the successor of the OPLC.

Athletics 12_AugustAthletics will return to the Olympic Stadium in 2017 with the IAAF World Championships

The decision over who would win that right has been plagued by a dispute between West Ham and Leyton Orient, both currently bidding.

Orient originally did not bid for the stadium, and were angered that West Ham did as they believe it will threaten their existence having a Premier League team barely a mile from their own Brisbane Road home in Leyton.

Orient chairman Barry Hearn also claimed that West Ham, then in the Championship, had not fulfilled the bid criteria as they did not have the permission of the Football League to move into the Olympic Stadium.

Subsequently, the LLDC adjusted the bidding procedure to allow teams to bid without the permission of their governing body more time to get that approval to move into the venue, and opened the process again – at which point Orient submitted their bid.

Pascoe explained that football was a crucial part of the legacy of the stadium, but admitted that he was concerned that its future was still up in the air with the Olympic Games now over.

"I saw the legacy could come in a number of ways," he said.

West Ham_United_-_Upton_Park_12_AugustWest Ham United is bidding to move from its Upton Park home to the Olympic Stadium

"We could not at that time convince politicians that it would be acceptable at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that football was the legacy for the stadium as they said it had to be track and field.

"There were plenty of real answers but they wanted to go ahead with the main stadium and fortunately the resolution was reached and West Ham would take it over.

"They are now back in the marketplace with two football clubs bidding for it.

"All of the success of these Games comes from those early days and planning.

"What you get wrong there you get wrong forever...I do not think we got many things wrong.

"The rest of the Olympic Park has a terrific legacy and I think the track will as well.

"I am nervous we looked at that at the beginning of 2003 and here we are and it has still not been resolved properly.

"Overall I think the physical legacy will meet all the aims not to have any white elephants."

Aside from Orient and West Ham, the UCFB College of Football Business and a proposal to build a Formula One track are bidding for the Olympic Stadium.

The decision on the future of the stadium is expected to be made after the conclusion of the Paralympic Games.

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