Milton Keynes tries to rescue 2005 athletics bid

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The Independent Online

A last-ditch proposal to rescue the 2005 World Athletics Championships by staging them at Milton Keynes, less than 50 miles from London, is to be examined by the Government troubleshooter Patrick Carter.

It would be presented as a London bid and those involved believe it may be acceptable as such by the International Association of Athletics Federations, who have snubbed the Government's plea to switch the event to Sheffield aftter the embarrassing decision to abandon Picketts Lock.

Last night Howard Wells, the new chairman of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, the umbrella body of Britain's 240 sports organisations, revealed that he had written to Carter suggesting that new £30 million stadium at Milton Keynes could be the answer to athletics' prayer.

"It is close enough to London to be classed as a London bid," he argues. "It is accessible and would have all the facilities required. It is imperative we try and save these championships for the credibility of our sport."

Wells' initiative is endorsed by Pete Winkleman, the music entrepreneur behind the on-hold scheme to move Wimbledon FC to the state-of-the-art stadium in his home-town. "We could deliver the championships on time and at minimal cost to the Government," he said. "We have a fully funded stadium with a 25,000 capacity that could easily be upgraded to accommodate 45,000 and our archtects, HOK, are the ones who proposed the temporary platform track for Wembley. We believe it could be made to work as a London (MK) bid."

Half an hour from London by rail, Milton Keynes is more accessible to most Londoners than Picketts Lock or even Crystal Palace, which had been considered as an alternative, and I understand the IAAF could be receptive.