Spurs set to battle West Ham for new stadium
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Friday 01 October 2010
West Ham United yesterday submitted their plan to take over the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games, becoming the only declared bidder come the deadline of midday yesterday. The club will discover by the end of the year whether they are likely to prove successful and they remain favourites despite reports that a joint bid by Tottenham Hotspur and AEG, the American entertainment conglomerate which runs the 02, will be made public today.
At a four-hour meeting last night, Haringey Council approved Tottenham's plans to redevelop White Hart Lane. The club's representatives were asked about plans to bid for the Olympic Stadium at last night's meeting, but they preferred to concentrate on their submission to expand White Hart Lane to a capacity of around 56,000. Spurs still have to get permission from the mayor of London – a decision is expected in two weeks – as well as raise an estimated £250m in funding. The Olympic project offers a possible fall-back, but any move away from Tottenham would be hugely controversial, especially among supporters.
AEG is to make a statement this morning regarding its interest in the Olympic Stadium and may choose to go it alone in the wake of last night's decision in Tottenham's favour. AEG had talks with West Ham but both parties chose to go their own ways – West Ham teaming up with Newham Council, the local authority. Intermarket, a City-based equity trader, has also previously declared an interest. Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, said: "West Ham are not the only people that we've spoken to. I won't say if it is the leading proposal."
Whoever wins will have to retain the running track, though West Ham stress that has never been a concern and are keen for the stadium, which will be reduced from 80,000-capacity to just under 60,000, to be used for a variety of sports. UK Athletics is bidding for the 2015 world championships, while the stadium is also part of England's 2018 World Cup bid and earmarked as a possible venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It could also stage Twenty20 cricket.
Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole yesterday delivered West Ham's bid to Downing Street. The club have sought advice from as far afield as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a multi-sports arena, in an attempt to perfect their plans. The Olympic Park Legacy Company will make the decision with the government and the London Mayor's office having the final say. The OPLC, headed by Baroness Ford and with the likes of Tessa Sanderson and Keith Edelman, the former managing director of Arsenal, on its board, hope to have a preferred bidder by the end of December with the lease signed by the end of the financial year.
The cost of readying the stadium for football is estimated at around £150m, although some of that would be born by the Olympic Delivery Authority, who will prepare the site for handover after the Games. The stadium is costing £537m to build.
Karren Brady, West Ham's chairman, described the club's bid as the only one "that can deliver London's legacy commitment to the International Olympic Committee." If one of the clubs is successful then they will kick off the 2014-15 season in their new home in east London.
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