Olympic Stadium future will be "multi-use"

dec24-olympicstadium.jpgThe devil will be in the detail when the future of the Olympic Stadium is finally decided.

That was the message from the Olympic Park Legacy Company's chief executive Andrew Altman and chairman Baroness Ford when questioned by the London Assembly this morning.

The legacy use of the stadium is back in the melting pot following the OPLC's decision to end the joint West Ham-Newham Council bid following a complaint to the European Commission about Newham's £40million contribution being "state aid", as well as a legal challenge from rival bidders Tottenham Hotspur.

The fear is an empty stadium will be paid for by the taxpayer.

A new bidding process is underway for the £500million stadium, but the Economy, Culture and Sport Committee were told details were commercially sensitive and could not be revealed.

aa-whstadium480.jpgBaroness Ford defended the decision to end the West Ham deal.

She said: "Their bid did not collapse. We closed it down because we could be held to ransom by vexatious claims. The advice we had was that the £40million from Newham was fine, but the legal challenges meant we missed the planning application window.

"The end of the deal was hugely disappointing for West Ham but they understood it was the best decision in the end. The time scale just made it impossible to continue."

Baroness Ford claimed Tottenham put members of the OPLC board under surveillance as they challenged the decision to award the stadium to West Ham. That is now subject to a police investigation.

The stadium will be owned by the OPLC, with an anchor tenant being sought. After the Games, the Olympic Delivery Authority will spend £35million of public money to convert the stadium, while the balance of the estimated £90million cost of conversion will be from private sources.

aa-feb11-Altman1.jpgMr Altman said there are a number of revenue streams that are being examined, including continued involvement from Newham.

He said: "There are things like naming rights, sponsorships and concerts which can be sold. As owner of the stadium we can control that. It would be premature to say where the sources of the [£60million] will come from.

"Everything is still on the table. Newham say they still want to be part of the stadium and their £40million is on the table."

Baroness Ford added the commercial future of the stadium was viable, and that the running track will stay.

She said: "There are 14 successful stadia that operate this way in Europe. The Olympic Stadium in Berlin. There's Zurich. There's Spartak Moscow's stadium, where they have football, concerts, athletics.

"There's no doubt we will have a mixed use stadium which is commercially viable. It will just take a few months to get there."

This Friday the IAAF will decide if London will host the World Athletics Championships in 2017. That could influence what happens to the stadium. The final decision on the stadium's future should be announced next spring.

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