By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

March 23 - West Ham United and Newham Council are working together on a joint bid that will include athletics to occupy the £537 million Olympic Stadium after 2012, they revealed today.

It coincided with the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) today inviting anyone interested in moving into the Stadium after the Games to contact them.

They have set an eight-week deadline for organisations or consortia to express an interested in "managing, operating in, or locating to" the venue in Stratford.

A final decision is expected to be made by the end of March 2011.

The 80,000-capacity stadium, which will host track events and the opening and closing ceremonies in 2012, is designed to be downsized after the Olympics to a 25,000-seat arena.

London 2012 organisers have always promised the stadium would serve primarily as a venue for track and field.

But West Ham wants to move into the stadium and the venue has also been included as part of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Rugby and cricket have also expressed interest.

West Ham's plans include an Olympic visitor centre and football museum.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady (pictured) said: "It is about realising the full potential of the Olympic Park.

"As well-established local organisations, Newham Council and West Ham United are best placed to make it happen.

"If achievable it is the ideal answer for those who rightly demand a sustainable legacy from the 2012 Olympic Games and not a white elephant.

"We acknowledge the need for the stadium to host world-class athletics and so it should.

"But it can accommodate football too - and a whole lot more.

"There has to be a way of achieving that.

"We want to grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a real, life-changing legacy.

"It’s not just for this part of London - but the wider area too."

Andrew Altman, the OPLC chief executive, said: "The Olympic Stadium is a truly iconic structure that should be a focal point for sport and community-led events including schools, clubs and creative and social enterprises.

"A successful Stadium legacy is vital to the Company’s long term aspirations for the Olympic Park.

"We want to provide local people with significant improvements in health and well-being, education, skills and training, job opportunities, cultural entitlements, housing, social integration and environment.”

Parties have been invited to consult OPLC’s Memorandum of Information, which includes details about the stadium, plans for the wider Olympic Park and instructions for registering an interest.

OPLC says it will consider options in the light of London’s original 2012 bid pledges.

But Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said that it was vital that West Ham were allowed to move in after the Games.

He said: "It's a no-brainer.

"It's good for us, it's good for the Borough, it's good for the club.

"West Ham are a good neighbour; we believe they are very focused and very positive about making this happen.

"The only realistic solution is to make the stadium work for a Premier League football team and that should be West Ham.

"We have never understood why that wasn't obvious."

Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, claimed that early discussions with Brady and the struggling club had been encouraging.

He said: ."We are interested in working with any serious party.

"We are keen to ensure there is a right solution for British athletics after the Games.

"It would be foolish for us to commit to any single plan from the off.

"We are happy to co-exist with Premier League football or any other sport, but not on any terms."

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