SBD/January 13, 2011/Facilities

Tottenham Hopes To Rebuild Olympic Stadium As Soccer Venue

Tottenham's plan involves rebuilding Olympic Stadium into soccer venue

EPL club Tottenham Hotspur yesterday "revealed their plans to rebuild the Olympic Stadium as a football-only venue" following the '12 London Games, according to Hart & Burt of the London TELEGRAPH. Club officials "made public their ambitious plans to demolish the existing structure in Stratford, east London, and replace it with a new 60,000-seat venue capable of hosting Premier League football and concerts staged" by AEG. The club has confirmed that there "will be no place in the new stadium for an athletics track." Instead, "to honour the promise" made by the London bid team to the IOC in '05 to provide an athletics legacy, the Tottenham-AEG consortium "has offered to pay for an upgrade of the Crystal Palace athletics stadium, providing 9,500 extra permanent seats to raise its capacity to 25,000 with the option of adding a further 15,000 seats to stage a World Championship." The consortium "has also offered to complete the stadium bowl to improve the atmosphere and to provide a permanent four-lane warm-up track near the venue." But U.K. Athletics Chair Ed Warner, "who has publicly backed West Ham's alternative plan for a multi-use stadium in Stratford complete with a running track," described the Crystal Palace option as a "minimal consolation prize." Warner: "They've come up with the bare minimum that they hope will pass muster with the legacy company when the decision is made, but it's nothing like the sort of legacy that was envisaged in 2005 in the London bid." Architect David Keirle, who is advising Tottenham, said that the Olympic Stadium site "would need substantial alteration if it were to be used for football." Keirle: "This stadium is designed for an athletics event. It's not like a football stadium. There are no permanent toilets, no suites or boxes. It's 80,000 bums on seats to watch athletics" (London TELEGRAPH, 1/13).

COMPARE & CONTRAST: The GUARDIAN's Owen Gibson reports it is believed that it will cost Tottenham around $395M (all figures U.S.) "to tear down the Olympic Stadium, build a new one and refurbish Crystal Palace." The cost of rebuilding Tottenham's White Hart Lane stadium is estimated at around $710M. West Ham's bid would use around $63M "raised from the sale of Upton Park" and about $63M borrowed by Newham Council "but underwritten by the club." West Ham officials are "confident their proposal ... stacks up financially even if they are relegated" from the EPL after this season (GUARDIAN, 1/13). In London, Ashling O'Connor reports this is the first time Tottenham officials "have outlined their offer for athletics in the teeth of growing opposition from athletes ... to their plan to demolish two thirds of the Olympic arena and construct a purpose-built football stadium." Tottenham and West Ham are "in the final stages of submissions" before a Jan. 21 deadline. A "preferred bidder could be selected" at an Olympic Park Legacy Company meeting on Jan. 28 and "contracts with the new tenant signed by the end of March" (LONDON TIMES, 1/13). 

TRACK SHOULD STAY: IOC Athletes' Commission Chair Frankie Fredericks yesterday said that the athletics track at London's Olympic Stadium "should be kept after the Games." Fredericks said that the "idea of the track being ripped up left him with the same 'empty feeling' as the transformation of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics stadium ... into a baseball venue." Fredericks: "Being an Olympian I would say that I would like that they continue to keep the legacy and hopefully that the track can stay" (AFP, 1/12).

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