It was the home of Britain's greatest sporting triumphs, now the Mayor is in talks for the Olympic Stadium to be the new London home of America's NFL
19:29 GMT, 31 October 2012
The Olympic stadium in Stratford could become the London home of the NFL after talks involving Mayor Boris Johnson.
The ambitious plan is for NFL franchises to become the 'anchor tenant'. It would leave West Ham scuppered in their attempt to turn the East End venue in their new home.
game at Wembley, in front of more than 80,000 fans, further cements
London’s reputation as the natural home of American football outside of
the US,' the mayor's spokesman said.
Mayor Boris Johnson is heckled by protestors as he visits Bristol yesterday. West Ham fans may feel the same way about him.
West Ham's bid to take on the tenancy has hit a stumbling block and Johnson – the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation who operate the stadium – opened talks last weekend when four NFL teams were in London playing regular-season games at Wembley.
A spokesman for Johnson added: 'Given the ever-growing popularity of gridiron this side of the Atlantic the mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities for NFL in London.
Up in the air: The future of the Olympic Stadium remains unclear
'The talks were exploratory and we are at an early stage but the signs are encouraging.'
West Ham are also looking to take over the anchor tenancy but the Treasury’s refusal to hand over the 337 million Olympic-contingency underspend to help install retractable seating is hampering their bid.
The retractable seating is expected to cost in the region of 200 million and the Mayor will be expecting any anchor tenant to make a significant contribution.
It is understood West Ham are willing to offer more than 8million a year in rent and related payments in addition to a reported multi-million lump sum.
The club are understood to be unwilling to reveal the true nature of their financial package due to confidentiality issues.
Touchdown: The NFL arrived in London last weekend
West Ham also believe that as several other events will be taking place at the Olympic Stadium throughout the next few years – such as the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the 2017 World Athletics Championships – they should not be the sole party asked to foot the bill.
A decision on the future of the stadium was expected to be announced by the end of October but negotiations are ongoing. Other contenders for the stadium tenancy are Leyton Orient, a football business college and a group wanting to host a Formula One race at the Olympic Park.
The NFL proposition is an attractive one as the stadium would only be required up to 10 times per year – compared to up to 25 times a year for football. This would free up time for other events such.
Boris takes to the microphone with opera singer Katherine Jenkins at Wembley on Sunday
Boris meets the officials before kick-off between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams in London on Sunday
Bringing in other sports such as gridiron to the capital on a more regular basis is something that the Mayor's office are keen on exploring.
'Only last week the mayor, in conjunction with the NFL, announced an expansion from one to two regular-season matches in London from 2013. That means in total an additional 44 million in revenue for the capital from next year,' the Mayor’s spokesman added.