Timeline of events surrounding the future tenants of the Olympic Stadium
Created by davelee on Dec 6, 2010
Last updated: 12/06/10 at 05:40 AM
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When it comes to the Olympics, it feels like this is the only news worth talking about lately – but it’s likely to be the big issue over until the final decision in March, so battle on we must.
In debate about the Olympic Park, everyone is talking white elephants. Will the International Broadcast Centre become one? How about the Aquatics Centre?
And of course the biggest, whitest potential elephant of all: Will the Olympic Stadium find a suitable tenant?
Well, in those negotiations we’ve had a bit of ship-steadying from West Ham who have answered the question – the elephant in the room, no less – about what would happen if West Ham were relegated from the Premier League.
The BBC’s Adrian Warner reports that West Ham believe they can still afford it as the repayment on the loan is “very small”.
Relegation is a very real possibility. The team currently sits rock bottom and their next match, on Saturday against Wigan, is being billed as the ‘save our season’ match.
Given there’s still two thirds of it left, that’s quite a statement.
Back to the cash – today’s assurances will do little to ease the mind of locals and/or West Ham fans.
The loss of income from the club should they go down would be such that the only way to claw back the cash would surely be to strip down the playing squad.
This would inevitably mean a mass exodus of current players – and little investment in new ones – creating the inevitable situation of probably not getting back to the Premier League any time soon.
Just as worringly, West Ham is famed across the land (world?) for having a truly outstanding youth set-up, producing some of England’s very best. This could be under threat.
Newham Council’s deal with West Ham examined [19th Nov]
Analysis: A storm brews as West Ham and Tottenham lock horns over Stadium takeover [4th Oct]
Olympic Stadium post-2012 talks begin, West Ham frontrunners for tenancy [16th Aug]
For the fans, the prospect of playing in the Olympic Stadium is an unpopular one, particularly if they plan on selling the Stadium’s naming rights – just like their north London friends Arsenal who play at the ‘Emirates’ Stadium.
But naming a stadium is annoying at worst – and since they wouldn’t be renaming the legendary Upton Park the blow to their self-esteem would be minimized.
Until they see the ticket prices.
It won’t be cheap, they’ll be playing a lower standard of football, they’ll be further from the pitch… it doesn’t sound very enticing for anyone apart from the die-hards.
As Adrian points out in his entry, Newham Council aren’t keen to discuss the loan in public. One has to wonder, if the repayments of the loan are being described as “small” by West Ham, what kind of deal they’re really getting.
Or more to the point, what kind of deal the borough of Newham, set to be hit by massive cuts all over, gets from dishing out £80 million loans to Premier League football teams.
West Ham: Relegation would not halt Olympic Stadium bid is a post from: The Olympic Borough
In the race for the Olympic Stadium, it’s perhaps only fitting that a running track lies at the heart of the deliberations.
Sir Keith Mills, who is deputy chairman of London 2012 as well as being a director at Tottenham, has admitted that if West Ham’s bid “stacks up” financially, they’ll be awarded with the site ahead of Spurs.
One key difference between the two bids is that West Ham have promised to keep the running track around the pitch, whereas Spurs have said they’ll get rid of it and instead offer an investment in athletics elsewhere.
Sir Mills talking to the Press Association:
“We promised in our bid to leave an athletics legacy. The IOC president has made it clear that it is more important not to leave a white elephant in London than whether that legacy is in the stadium or elsewhere in London.
“The OPLC’s job is to ensure there is a legacy and to ensure there are no white elephants.
“We have been told we will have an answer by Christmas and look forward to them coming up with the right decision.”
Mills also added that even if Spurs did win the stadium, they wouldn’t necessarily take it. Rebuilding and expanding White Hart Lane – their current home – is still very much an option.
Spurs director: West Ham will probably get Stadium is a post from: The Olympic Borough
Kevin Blowe takes a very good look at the “secret” meetings to be held by Newham Council to discuss taking out an £80 million loan to finance the plans for West Ham to take over the Olympic Stadium post-Games:
Who would borrow £80 million to give to a club that already has staggering debts, estimated at £110 million by its new owners at the start of the year? Then there is the obvious question of West Ham’s current position at the bottom of the Premier League. At the start of this month, co-owner David Sullivan admitted that West Ham’s debt still stands at £85 million and that relegation gives him “sleepless nights” because the club might not survive a drop down to the Championship. Why give council tax payers’ money to such a high-risk partner? And why finance a proposal that a survey of West Ham fans shows has little support?
Read the rest here…
Newham Council’s loan deal with West Ham examined is a post from: The Olympic Borough
Are Spurs really planning to walk away from White Hart Lane?
Not at all unexpected, but now confirmed: Newham and West Ham United will be up against Tottenham Hotspur and AEG in the decision to take over the Olympic Stadium after the Games.
We already knew that it was likely for the two groups to be among the frontrunners, but the Olympic Park Legacy Company will now disregard all other offers and enter further discussion with the two clubs.
The final decision will be made in March. And, quite frankly, it will be a miracle if Spurs end up moving there.
Why? Well – given all the information available so far – Tottenham’s bid is inferior in almost every area.
Although, in footballing terms, Spurs are a bigger club, questions must be asked about exactly how appropriate it would be for a north London team to plonk itself in the heart of the east: West Ham’s back garden. David Sullivan, West Ham’s co-owner, has already suggested that a Spurs move would “cause riots”.
But in this era of money ruling everything in football, you wouldn’t left surprised if the morality – or even the desire of the faithful fans – is given more than a fleeting thought.
So let’s look at business.
AEG’s partnership with Spurs was the real ace in the pack for the north Londoners. With the world’s biggest entertainment company – they also run events at the o2 Arena – Spurs had put on the table a tasty proposition. A top class, European-playing football team fill it up at least every fortnight – and AEG fill it with the likes of Take That and Rihanna on other nights.
West Ham countered almost immediately. By getting LiveNation on-board the Hammers have plugged the hole left exposed by AEG’s inclusion in Tottenham’s approach. They now have a massive entertainment company to offer big, non-sporting events.
Not only that, but by cosying up to Essex County Cricket Club and UK Athletics, they have been comprehensive in covering all bases.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have not only admitted that the stadium is second choice behind rebuilding White Hart Lane in Haringey, but also expressed that if they were to get the Olympic site, they’d probably just knock it down anyway. Charming.
Some have questioned the range of hospitality on offer to Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales from West Ham, but given all that’s on offer from the Hammers’ bid, I think it would be unfair to suggest the Mayor is not working in the borough’s best interests.
There’s just over four months to go until we’ll know for sure – but Spurs have an awful lot of catching up to do if they think they’ll be moving in. That’s indeed if they want to – many have suggested that Spurs’ Olympic interest could in fact be a ploy to make sure Haringey Council don’t get in the way of White Hart Lane’s development.
Hammers and Newham up against Spurs and AEG in battle for stadium is a post from: The Olympic Borough
Home sweet home: West Ham's current ground, Upton Park.
While it may just be another attempt to derail Tottenham’s bid to take over the Olympic Stadium after the Games, you can’t help but agree with West Ham co-owner David Sullivan’s warning that there would be “violence” if Spurs were to move into east London:
“If it happens, there will be real problems that could easily lead to civil unrest.
“I think there could be riots, such is the ill feeling between West Ham and Spurs and I know the police feel the same.”
For Sullivan, the stadium bid is the latest frustration with their rivals – disputes over player negotiations reached boiling point during the summer.
“The way they do business is not right,” said Sullivan.
“How would they like it if we suddenly set up a new home in Haringey. I’m flabbergasted by the cheek of it.”
Further reading: Anaylsis – A storm brews as West Ham and Tottenham lock horns over Stadium takeover
Spurs move ‘would cause riots’, says West Ham co-owner is a post from: The Olympic Borough
The success of the Olympic legacy relies on the Olympic Stadium (picture: IanVisits)
All the bids for the Olympic Stadium are now in.
We don’t know how many there were, or exactly when they’ll announce the “winner” – but we do know that what risked being quite literally a white elephant post-2012 is now a highly sought after stadium. Phew.
So who’s in the running? The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) isn’t sharing details of all the interested parties, but it’s rapidly becoming a two-horse race between two of London’s sporting giants: West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The favourite, without question, is a bid led by West Ham. In crucial partnership with Newham Council, the Hammers’ offer is so advanced, so community focused that it seems hard to believe the stadium will be in anyone else’s hands after 2012.
But last week came a massive spanner in the works in the shape of Spurs and AEG – who had hinted some vague interest weeks ago – and formally made a bid at the last minute.
It didn’t go down well.
While West Ham is giving off signs or real desire – they’ve hired people dedicated to working on the potential move – Spurs seem to see the Stadium as little more than a back-up plan.
Their Plan A, if I can call it that, is to have their own ground redeveloped – the planning for which Haringey Council permitted last week. It’s a development that will provide some mini-regeneration to that area – 200 new homes and a hotel are planned along with the Stadium.
First choice: Tottenham's proposed new stadium
Given Spurs’ obvious desire to build their own, news stadium, it seems hard to comprehend that the OLPC would take such an approach seriously.
Do we really want a club who see the biggest development opportunity in the UK as ‘Plan B’? The full details of Spurs’ bid haven’t been released, but there are no signs of the community development promises that West Ham, along with the council, have made.
But they do have a very big trump card in AEG. Their Wikipedia entry tells you all you need to know. AEG are simply the biggest, most powerful live entertainment company around – and they would be able to bring massive acts to the Stadium.
It’s an attractive thought – Stratford is in so many ways a better place to hold events than Greenwich, home of the O2 Arena. And why should the Olympic Park’s legacy be limited to just sport? Why not give a top-class venue the chance to attract a wider breadth of people?
Tough choices – but the question will need to be asked just how often events would be held. In an open-air stadium, I can’t imagine many big gigs being held during the winter. Thus, AEG’s involvement must be seen as an added bonus, the icing on the Tottenham cake. There is a lot of doubt over what exactly Olympic Legacy is, but it is pretty clear what it isn’t: a series of summer concerts too expensive for locals to enjoy.
For the Park to fulfil its full promise, any deal needs to be truly evergreen – and on the face of it, Spurs don’t seem committed to that cause.
While the majority of West Ham’s fans are – according to a recent survey – unhappy with the plans for a move, at least the club itself is showing some sign of being completely behind the bid. Vice-chairman Karren Brady:
“Working with Newham Council we could ensure extensive use of the stadium that would create prosperity in the local area and see this club grow and move on to another level. Our plan to keep most of the stadium in place protects the public investment.”
Newham’s mayor Sir Robin Wales (“Our proposal with West Ham is the natural and logical solution that will provide a legacy for decades to come”) tops the list of support from almost all corners, including Westfield – the company behind the new super-shopping centre at Stratford – and even Essex County Cricket Club, who last week revealed they wouldn’t mind using the stadium during the summer, non-footballing months. Chairman David East:
“We’ve expressed our interest and have formed part of the bidding process for West Ham, who are seeking to demonstrate that they can operate, not just football, but a multi-sport delivery stadium. There’s a good strategic fit for us, in that we have responsibility for five London boroughs in terms of cricket development, and one of those is Newham. But at this stage we are very tentatively dipping our toes in the water.”
It’s a tie-up which has historical significance as well as logistical sensibility – Geoff Hurst played for both West Ham and Essex CCC during his years as one of England’s greatest ever sportsmen.
In contrast, Tottenham is suffering from a wave of ill-feeling towards their bid.
West Ham’s other co-chairman, David Gold, predictably slammed Spurs’ approach:
“They have just got planning permission to build a new stadium. So what are they going to do, have one stadium for when it’s sunny and another for when it’s raining?”
While Tottenham’s manager, Harry Redknapp, hardly shone with pre-Olympic delight at the prospect of a move.
“The new stadium or the Olympic Stadium would be great. I’m only the employee – I don’t want to say the wrong one!
“I do know there used to be a great pie and mash shop in Stratford.”
More serious doubts come from local MP David Lammy, who said that Spurs’ would “never be forgiven” if they were to move from north to east London:
“I am surprised to hear Spurs are also considering moving into the Olympic Stadium. It seems entirely wrong-headed to be directing efforts to a stadium on the other side of London when there is a fantastic opportunity to redevelop their home into a world-class stadium.”
And local Union boss Keith Flett, anxious about the knock-on effect of a major business and employer leaving the area:
“It may be prudent for Spurs to register an interest in the Olympic stadium. It would be more prudent for them to reaffirm their commitment to the people of Tottenham.”
Meanwhile, from a footballing point of view, the Daily Mail’s brilliant sports writer Martin Samuel brands a Spurs takeover unthinkable:
“This may seem strange to outsiders but Tottenham could move halfway to Cambridge and still be within their traditional boundaries, but roughly six miles down the road to where the Olympic park is located and they may as well be on the moon. That is West Ham country as indisputably as Tyneside belongs to Newcastle United.”
He also raises the issue that Premier League rules may even prevent Spurs moving there anyway: Any move needs the League’s approval, and has to work within some fairly strict rules regarding connection to the local area and not adversely affecting existing local clubs.
West Ham is a club steeped in history and pride - but many fans know it must move on
It would be a hard argument to suggest that Spurs being a couple from miles of West Ham wouldn’t affect attendance at Upton Park, and their ‘ties’ with the local area are at best negligible, and at worst completely non-existent.
Given all the available information, it seems fairly clear that West Ham should walk it.
What remains to be seen is if the distinct possibility of West Ham dropping out of the Premier League (they’re currently bottom after seven games) would affect their bid – as a Championship club would really struggle to fill 30,000 seats, let alone 60,000.
Respect must also be given to the needs – and indeed, feelings – of the local community. West Ham fans may not be too over-the-moon at the Olympic Stadium (with its running track and fairly big gap between the pitch and fans), but many supporters will concede that for a club which is struggling on and off the pitch, the move presents the best option.
Moving Spurs to east London would boil up all sorts of deep-rooted rivalry – and I’m not being too over-the-top if I suggest that hooliganism would haunt us once more, and it would go beyond your usual yobs – it would become a battle of north vs east. Spurs would be seen as invaders of West Ham-country, and neither sets of fans would like it in the slightest.
You get the sense that no move is to be without its controversy and tears. The Hammers will find it hard to adjust, but their fans would, I’m sure, eventually turn their attentions away from their fondness of Upton Park, and replace it with excitement of moving into one of the country’s most impressive and exciting sporting arenas.
Nothing to stop them holding a few concerts, either.
Analysis: A storm brews as West Ham and Tottenham lock horns over Stadium takeover is a post from: The Olympic Borough
Nearing completion: But who'll take over?
The formal process to decide the future of the Olympic Stadium begins tomorrow, with West Ham United taking centre stage as the likely tenant beyond 2012.
The club say they have proposed a “core mix” of athletics and football, as well as opportunities for other minority sports and community events in the area.
From the official West Ham site:
The process is now moving to the next stage. The OPLC, with the backing of the government and the Mayor of London, is to seek an anchor tenant for the stadium on a leasehold basis. A formal procedure is expected to start on 17 August 2010 and it is hoped a final decision on the future of the venue will be made by the end of the year.
The club says they are “confident” their solution is the best option.
It’s a move that will prove controversial with fans.
In a city of Chelseas and Arsenals, West Ham retains a proud position of being a decidedly “old school” football team – with a stadium which places fans right next to the pitch – and a local community that lives and breathes its team.
A recent poll on fan site ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ suggests fans are overwhelmingly against the move – especially because a running track is likely to feature in the design. That said, a poor start to the new football season could be enough to swell the group of fans who believe the club have to make big changes to survive.
Insidethegames.biz reported yesterday that Seb Coe has given his blessing to West Ham’s plan, with the promised athletics track being a key part of his support.
Olympic Stadium post-2012 talks begin, West Ham frontrunners for tenancy is a post from: The Olympic Borough
Upton Park: West Ham set for a move
It’s getting harder to see any alternatives to West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium after London 2012.
Club chairman Karren Brady told the BBC that the venue could also be used for rugby and cricket – as well as entertainment events organised by AEG – another apparently interested party.
The dismissed reports that Tottenham Hotspur also have one eye on a possible move, saying that:
They are weighed down building their own stadium, but to be fair to them, if they were interested it would be so far away from their natural home that it will be very difficult for them to justify the move to their supporters.
Brady said that it would cost between £150m and £180m to convert the stadium so it could be used for football – extending the roof, removing the running track (maybe), and other enhancements that a football stadium requires.
Brady said she “hoped” – yes, hoped – that those millions could be returned to the tax-payer in a few years.
Estate’s Gazette’s Paul Norman has a bit more analysis.
BBC News – West Ham ‘logical tenants’ for 2012 Olympic Stadium.
West Ham edging ahead in Stadium race is a post from: The Olympic Borough
Cornered: Will fans have any say over Hammers move?
East London football giants West Ham are edging closer to moving into the Olympic Stadium after 2012.
The club – with its new(ish) owners – have wanted it for some time, but now we’ve had the first real suggestion from shopping centre owners Westfield that they’d be delighted with the move too. Westfield’s Stratford City director, John Burton:
“Clearly there are statements saying we are opposed to West Ham and that is simply not correct. We will work with West Ham or anyone else for that matter in the delivery of a further use. The only criteria we would put around that is, given our role around access, that we have regular communication and co‑ordination to deal with any organisational issues.”
Two possible spanners in the works: AEG, the company behind the O2 have also bid.
And, understandably, many of the West Ham faithful are firmly against it. Not that that’s ever stopped a club moving in the past – just ask a Wimbledon/Millwall/Arsenal fan.
West Ham’s hopes of moving to Olympic Stadium after 2012 given boost | Football | The Guardian.
West Ham score Westfield backing for Olympic Stadium move is a post from: The Olympic Borough