By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Olympic_Stadium_West_Ham_interiorFebruary 17 - West Ham United have already started working with the designer of the £537 million ($836 million) Olympic Stadium, Populous, to begin discussing turning it into a football and athletics venue once London 2012 is over, it was reported today.

Populous had been brought in to help the club work up proposals for the initial bidding phase of the work, a spokesman for West Ham told Building Design.

"In getting through the bid stage we engaged the services of Westfield, which was leading a team that includes Populous," he told the magazine.

Populous is understood to be developing plans to install retractable seating at the venue ahead of the football club's first game there, due at the start of the 2014-2015 season, Building Design reported. 

"Populous has done retractable seating before such as Stadium Australia [for the 2000 Olympics] so it can be done," one expert told the magazine.

The decision for West Ham to take over the Olympic Stadium ahead of Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur still has to be ratified by London Mayor Boris Johnson and two Government departments but that is expected to be a formality.

West Ham is expected to shortly issue an OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) notice for its £95 million ($153 million) plan to rework the facility, including modifying the roof, and installing permanent toilets, concession outlets and executive boxes.

Populous, who also worked on the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium and Arsenal's new Emirates stadium, would be expected to among the frontrunners to be awarded the contract. 

Architect Peter Cook, who helped Populous with its original design for the stadium, welcomed the decision to keep it and said Populous should bid for the work once it is advertised.

"[Tearing it down] would have been a waste of time and money," he told Building Design.

"I think they [Populous] should give it a go.

"They have the experience in this whole thing to follow it through."

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