May 23 2013 Latest news:
Melissa York, Reporter
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
American football franchise National Football League (NFL) are in “exploratory” talks with the London Mayor’s office to become the anchor tenants of the Olympic Stadium.
Representatives from NFL met with Mayor Boris Johnson and his team following a visit by four gridiron teams to Wembley Stadium last weekend for discussions including the occupancy of venue in Stratford - currently subject to a bidding process involving local team West Ham United.
A spokesman for the Mayor’s office told the Recorder: “Given the ever-growing popularity of gridiron this side of the Atlantic the mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities for NFL in London.
“The talks were exploratory and we are at an early stage but the signs are encouraging.”
The London Legacy Development Corporation, in charge of operating the Olympic Stadium post-Games, have not confirmed any other action taken by NFL but Mayor Johnson is chairman of the company.
London Assembly Member for City & East John Biggs has waded into the debate, calling the talks “an act of desperation”.
Mr Biggs said: “I’ve got nothing against American football but I think local residents would prefer a local football or other sports team to be the main tenant.
“If the Mayor forces the NFL on East London I am worried it will alienate residents and confirm that the idea of the stadium as a venue for the local community, have finally fizzled out.”
Other bids under consideration including one from Leyton Orient, a football business college as well as a group wanting to host a Formula One race at the Olympic Park.
The £486million Olympic Stadium has already been earmarked for 20 athletics meetings, which include the World Championships in 2017, and will also be available for community use, with Newham Council contributing a £40million loan towards the redevelopment project.