West Ham: We still want Olympic Stadium

Posted on March 24, 2010

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*Article originally appeared in The Hackney Post

West Ham United want to move into London’s Olympic Stadium, even if an athletic running track has to remain.

The club is believed to be involved in talks over how best to allow the track to remain in the future super-stadium.

Sources close to West Ham say the club believes a solution is possible to accommodate both football and athletics after the 2012 games, and that West Ham’s involvement could provide the best option.

Yet this is in spite of joint-owner David Sullivan’s previous comments. He said last month: “I don’t think running tracks work, particularly behind the goal. The customers are so far back.”

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), which is responsible for the post-games usage of the Olympic site, has invited potential occupiers to state their case and has set a deadline of March 2011 for a final decision on how the stadium will be used after 2012.

An OPLC spokesperson said: “We have been examining all options which will both secure the financial viability and significant public investment in the stadium, coupled with making sure that legacy promises are fulfilled.”

Athletics tracks at football stadiums are common in the Continent, but no top-tier English club currently has one. When Manchester City took over the Commonwealth Games Stadium in 2003 they removed the athletics track used in the 2002 Games.

UK Athletics (UKA) chairman Ed Warner is adamant that there must be room for athletics at the stadium once the games are over.

“An athletics legacy in the form of the Olympic Stadium was a central part of the bid back in 2005 and nothing has changed,” he said.

“UKA have always maintained that mixed usage with other sports is a sustainable long-term solution for the stadium and football can certainly be part of that mix. However, it is not something we can accept on any terms.”

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