Legacy What legacy 2012 Olympic Stadium in danger of being shut for years
23:28 GMT, 7 November 2012
London's Olympic Stadium may not even be open to the public by the time the next Games begin in Rio in 2016, it has emerged.
The mothballing of a venue that cost taxpayers 486million comes despite promises made by Olympic organisers, led by Lord Coe, to bequeath a sporting legacy to the country as a top priority.
Arena: The heart of this summer's Olympic Games could be shut for years
News of the delay came from Dennis Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, who said the stadium would not be handed over to new tenants until 'August 2015 at the absolute earliest and possibly August 2016'.
West Ham remain favourites finally to become the stadium's main tenants. But if the process drags on even longer than Hone suggested, the venue's readiness to host the athletics World Championships in 2017 would also be in doubt.
Coe, who was elected as chairman of the British Olympic Association on Wednesday, said: 'Speaking as vice-president of the IAAF (athletics' governing body), I am a client so I will be watching the situation closely.'
Close eye on proceedings: Coe promised to bequeath a sporting legacy
The previous Government and London Mayor Boris Johnson originally intended that a tenant would be in place for the start of the 2013-14 season, before that deadline was pushed back a year.
But Hone believes the substantial conversion needed to accommodate athletics and football makes that goal unobtainable.
The work, which could start next summer,
would include installing retractable seats and a cantilevered roof to
cover the new seating.
Concern: Lord Coe at a press conference on Wednesday
Speaking to the London Assembly committee, Hone said: '2014 is completely out. For football, it's about seating positions for the pitch, roof coverage, hospitality requirements and things like that.
'They change from bidder to bidder.
Depending on the option they will have a different construction period.
We have to procure them in a competitive manner and complete the
risk diminishing the public enthusiasm generated by the Olympics as
well as antagonising West Ham, who won the initial bidding process
before legal problems intervened.
club are reluctant to bankroll the conversion, pointing to how they
would instead pay their way by bringing in hundreds of extra jobs to the
park and raising its commercial attractiveness.
The other bids come from proponents of a Formula One grand prix, League One football club Leyton Orient and a Burnley-based football business college.
Hone dismissed speculation that an American football franchise were also in the running, saying: 'We've got four bidders and we've had no bids outside that competition.'
The LLDA are also looking for a stadium operator, such as AEG or Live Nation. They would manage the principal occupants – West Ham or one of the three rival bids – and their relationships with the other tenants, namely UK Athletics, who will host 20 days of track and field a year plus the 2017 World Championships, and Newham Council, who will put the stadium to community use. A decision is not expected before December.