West Ham move into pole position for Olympic Stadium after NFL bid is thrown out
NFL bid for Olympic Stadium ruled out
West Ham now frontrunners for anchor tenancy
Mayor confirms stadium unlikely to be ready until 2016
UK Athletics chairman labels process a farce
13:10 GMT, 14 November 2012
West Ham have received a boost in their bid to move into the Olympic Stadium after the NFL's proposal to become anchor tenants was thrown out.
The American gridiron franchise were willing to share the stadium with other sports and events but were told that they could not have the exclusive access to the venue each year from September to January which they felt they required to prepare and host consecutive games.
In a further twist, Mayor Boris Johnson – the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation who operate the stadium – confirmed rumours that the stadium will not be re-opened until 2016 to be true.
Up in the air: The future of the Olympic Stadium remains unclear
The Mayor said on Wednesday that it
was 'highly unlikely' that the stadium would be converted and ready for
use again before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio – meaning, incredibly,
that it will take longer to convert the stadium than it did to build it.
The delay in re-opening of the stadium has been branded 'a farce' by UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.
Warner said: 'My biggest concern is
that we have some major events planned for that stadium and we thought
they were going to be from the summer of 2014 onwards.
'All of the legacy use was scheduled
to start in two years' time and now it might be four years' time which
strikes me as ludicrous and to be a paralysis of decision-making which I
hope the mayor [Boris Johnson] is going to cut through.
Close call: Upton Park is in the same borough as the Olympic Stadium but the NFL franchises are more than a short hop away
'I wouldn't say this is a Whitehall farce but this is fast becoming a Stratford farce.
'We want to lock into the legacy of
the Games while people still remember the Mobot, Greg Rutherford, Jonnie
Peacock and David Weir.
'Let's have a bit of imagination here
and let's have a decision – we want one, West Ham want one and we all
want it open as soon as possible.'
Johnson had opened talks with the NFL last month when four of their teams were in London playing regular-season games at Wembley.
The Treasury's refusal to hand over the 337
million Olympic-contingency underspend to help install retractable
seating is hampering West Ham's 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.
Boris takes to the microphone with opera singer Katherine Jenkins at Wembley before meeting New England Patriots and St Louis Rams
It is understood West Ham are willing
to offer more than 8million a year in rent and related payments in
addition to a reported multimillion lump sum.
The club are unable to reveal the true nature of their financial package due to confidentiality issues.
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 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.