West Ham's Bid To Secure Olympic Stadium As Home Venue Falls Through
U.K. Minister for Sport & Olympics Hugh Robertson today "confirmed the Olympic Stadium deal with West Ham and Newham Council has collapsed," according to Martyn Ziegler of the London INDEPENDENT. Legal challenges by EPL club Tottenham Hotspur and third-tier club Leyton Orient, "plus an anonymous complaint to the European Commission, have led to fears that court action could drag on for years while the stadium remains empty." The stadium will now "remain in public ownership and leased out to an anchor tenant following a new tender process by the Olympic Park Legacy Company." West Ham Vice Chair Karren Brady today confirmed that the club "will bid again to become tenants" of the stadium following the Olympics. About US$54.7M already "earmarked under the Olympic Budget will be used to transform the stadium after the Games." Prospective tenants "will then be asked to bid for the stadium with the running track remaining in place." The tenants would pay an annual rent to the OPLC, "which should actually prove to be less costly for the likes of West Ham." The move "will also remove uncertainty over the stadium ahead of London's bid for the 2017 world athletics championships, although that was not a major consideration in the decision to abandon the current deal." It is "understood that no contract has been signed with West Ham, allowing the move to a fresh tender process, but the club will be encouraged to bid again" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/11). In London, Paul Kelso notes interested parties "will have until January to submit their bids and the OPLC will then try and put together a package of tenants that makes the stadium viable." The move "is a major blow to London's legacy planning and continues the uncertainty over the flagship arena despite repeated promises over seven years that it would not be a white elephant" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/11).
STARTING OVER: Also in London, Ashling O'Connor writes, "It is effectively a return to 'plan A' before the decision was made to throw open the bidding process to all prospective tenants, including those who wished to rip out the track." O'Connor: "It is a highly embarrassing U-turn for ministers after a protracted bidding process that spanned nearly two years and involved scores of lawyers" (LONDON TIMES, 10/11). Brady and Newham Council Chief Exec Kim Bromley-Derry in a statement said that they "would welcome the move to bring clarity to the process." In London, Owen Gibson notes it was initially hoped Tottenham would drop its legal challenge after London Mayor Boris Johnson promised a US$26.6M package to "help towards the redevelopment of White Hart Lane and the surrounding area." But Tottenham has kept its options open, saying that it needs "more time to examine the City Hall proposal" (GUARDIAN, 10/11).