Hammers given green light

Image: West Ham: Given green light

West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium following the 2012 Games has been given the go-ahead by the Government.

Government rubber stamps Olympic bid

West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium has been given the go-ahead by the Government. The club was unanimously selected by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) earlier this month as the preferred bidder to take over the east London venue after the 2012 Olympics. The Hammers beat off competition from Premier League rivals Tottenham, with their bid seen as the only one that fulfilled the five criteria, with a key factor being their desire to keep the athletics track. Junior communities minister Bob Neill said: "This completes the first stage of this process and means that the OPLC are now able to enter into negotiations with the consortium comprising West Ham United Football Club and the London Borough of Newham to agree a lease for the Olympic Stadium site on terms that are acceptable to Government and the Mayor of London and provide value for money to the public sector.

Significant milestone

"We are delighted with the progress that has been made and very pleased we have reached this very significant milestone in determining the long-term legacy for the Olympic Park following the Games." In a joint bid with Newham Council, West Ham intend to convert the 80,000-seater stadium into a 60,000-capacity facility which retains an athletics track. The club aim to move from Upton Park into the £537million showpiece venue in 2014/15 and they are planning on spending £95m converting the stadium after the Games. The OPLC will now negotiate a "mutually acceptable lease" with West Ham and Newham, and "other options will be considered" if they are unable to reach a deal. Tottenham's plans, part of a joint bid with AEG sport and entertainment group, had been to create a football-only stadium without the track and redevelop Crystal Palace for athletics. The West Ham bid was recommended on the grounds it provided value for money for the stadium on a long-term basis, and London mayor Boris Johnson has promised Tottenham that he will help them move to an alternative site.
Dust bowl
"The extremely thorough process to select a preferred bidder for the stadium attracted two outstanding proposals from two great London football clubs," he said. "I would like to reassure Tottenham Hotspur that we stand ready to support them with any plans they now want to take forward for their future stadium requirements." Johnson added: "I am confident that West Ham will provide a secure future for the stadium which also sees its iconic design for the London Games retained for future generations to admire. "Just two years ago it faced the prospect of becoming a dust bowl staging occasional athletics events but now we can look forward to a fantastic multi-use venue at the heart of the community, able to host football and other sports, as well as concerts and events specifically for local people and schools."

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