EPL Club West Ham United Close To Olympic Stadium Deal, To Be Named Preferred Bidders
EPL West Ham United is "likely to be named preferred bidders for the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on Wednesday following a board meeting of the London Legacy Development Corp., but final agreement on a deal for the East End club to move into the £429M ($691M) venue is expected to remain some way off," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. West Ham believes that only Premier League football "can make the stadium economically viable and deliver a lasting legacy for the surrounding area." London Mayor Boris Johnson feels that West Ham offers "the best solution but is equally adamant that the deal must make sense for the public purse." West Ham's "best and final" offer was believed to be around £15M ($24.1M) toward the upfront costs of installing a full roof and retractable seats, plus £2.5M ($4M) a year in rent and a claimed £6M ($9.7M) a year uplift in stadium naming rights and catering revenues. The 19-strong board "will attempt to come to a decision." One likely outcome is that West Ham "will get preferred bidder status, but with a number of conditions attached before contracts can be signed" (GUARDIAN, 12/4). In London, Ashling O'Connor writes "while several of the 18 board members have reservations about West Ham’s plan, it is thought a majority will agree with the mayor" that football secures the best long-term commercial future for the stadium. The success of West Ham’s bid depends on building the retractable seating on budget. The design "has been costed, the bill could still rise." A legal challenge from Leyton Orient, the npower League One club who want to share the stadium, could also delay approval (LONDON TIMES, 12/5).
ACTOR PENS COLUMN: In London, writing exclusively for the DAILY MAIL Hollywood actor Ray Winstone "has pleaded for 'common sense to prevail' as the Hammers wait to find out who will be named as the preferred bidder by the LLDC." The "fun and games of the Olympics are over now, and we have a golden opportunity to really change the perception of the area and put the pride back in east London." Like most other East Enders, "I'm a lifelong supporter of West Ham United, and I feel so passionately about my club and the area I grew up in that wanted to share my thoughts on how I think the Olympic Stadium can be used to help make that change." For me and for thousands of other East Londoners, "the one consistent focal point of the area is our football team." I think the club has something like half a million supporters in East London and Essex. So, I think "the fitting legacy for this area and the rest of the country would be to allow West Ham United to help fulfil the dreams of the people of East London and become tenants of the Olympic Stadium." Yes, it "would bring a great future for the club, but more importantly it would rejuvenate the area as well" (DAILY MAIL, 12/4).