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West Ham face competition for Olympic Stadium


West Ham face competition from three other bidders wanting to become tenants of the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) confirmed today.

West Ham, who won the now-disbanded process to move to the stadium in Stratford, east London, after the London 2012 Games, have confirmed they are one of the bidders.

An OPLC spokesman said: "We have received four bids from parties interested in using the stadium after the Games.

"The Legacy Company will shortly start its evaluation process, with the aim of announcing which concessionaires will occupy the stadium alongside athletics before the Games.

"Legacy planning is further ahead than any previous Olympic host city.

"The stadium will become the new national centre for athletics and host of the 2017 World Athletics Championships and we remain on course to reopen the stadium as a multi-purpose venue in 2014."

The OPLC will start evaluating the four bids with the aim of making a decision before this summer's Games.

By today's noon deadline for submissions, the 16 would-be bidders who had shown an interest at the start of this new process had gone down to four.

A statement on West Ham's club website read: "West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady has today confirmed the club's intention to submit a bid by lunchtime (Friday 23 March) to be the anchor user of the Olympic Stadium post-Games in line with the OPLC deadline."

The original deal gave the Hammers, along with partner Newham Council, the keys to the stadium after the Games but it collapsed after it became hamstrung by a series of legal challenges from rival football clubs, including Tottenham and Leyton Orient, plus another anonymous party.

West Ham have applied for a 99-year lease of the stadium, which is reported to have cost £486 million to build.

Ms Brady said: "Having spent the last two years dedicated to this project, I am privileged to once more be submitting West Ham United's bid to become the anchor concessionaire of the Olympic Stadium post-the 2012 Games.

"From the outset it has been my firm, unwavering belief that the stadium can truly become a multi-use destination of which east London and the nation as a whole can be proud.

"I have never lost sight of our vision to play our part, along with the stadium's major stakeholders, in ensuring it grows into a global asset, the 'jewel in the crown' of the (Olympic) Park that will be watched by the world.

"Our vision for the stadium has always been about standing up for the promises made for London back in Singapore in 2005 and what they meant for our future generations. We are honoured to have once more received the support and backing of our friends at UK Athletics.

"I would like to thank the many West Ham supporters who have given their time to share their opinions on our proposed move ahead of this decision and despite the considerable constraints and confidentiality agreements we were required to enter into, I can assure them their feedback has been instrumental in informing the board's approach to our bid."

Despite being third in the npower Championship, West Ham are not assured of promotion after their poor recent form and there is no guarantee that the Londoners will be able to fill the 60,000-capacity ground if the club wins the tenancy battle.

Co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan have said they remain fully committed to the idea of leaving Upton Park.

In a joint statement, they said: "As we have always said, we remain committed to this magnificent stadium and provided we are able to offer a world-class stadium for football for our prolific, loyal and passionate supporters, we believe there is nobody better placed to help deliver the legacy for the East End community than us.

"This area - the one from which we both originate - deserves a true and lasting legacy to follow the 2012 Games. It will be a tremendous event that the whole world will be watching and will therefore present a real opportunity to showcase the UK at its best. However, the showcase must not stop there.

"We know that using the stadium as our home will bring with it huge responsibility, but we are fully committed to making it our home for at least the next 99 years. We will take on with pride the mantle of what that means in terms of giving something back to the community."